Category Archives: Cross Culture Awareness

Chinese FM calls for further cooperation between China, Latin American and Caribbean states

Thanks;  Pengying/Xinhua

Published;2018-01-23 13:31:36

SANTIAGO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday hailed the achievements made in the cooperation between China and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the past three years and called on relevant countries to keep the momentum.

Wang was attending the second ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum. The inaugural meeting of the mechanism was convened in Beijing in January 2015.

In his speech, Wang read a congratulatory letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke highly of the development of the China-CELAC Forum in the three years following its inception and proposed that the China-LAC partnership be led by joint efforts to implement the Belt and Road Initiative.

Wang said Xi’s letter reflected China’s sincere willingness to advance cooperation with countries in the region to realize common development.

Cooperation under the China-CELAC Forum, Wang noted, has achieved fruitful results thanks to both sides sticking to the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment, as well as their consistent commitment to jointly seeking cooperation and development.

Wang said the mechanism achieved early harvests in 13 key projects in the past three years covering such areas as trade, finance and energy, adding that China has been steadfastly implementing a package of financing arrangements for its partners.

In addition, Wang said the social foundation for the China-LAC partnership has been further consolidated, with China delivering its promises by granting government-sponsored scholarships to students from LAC countries, organizing personnel training and promoting exchanges among political parties.

Exchange programs between the two sides have also benefited young scientists and people in the media industry, according to the foreign minister, who further pointed out that the ministerial-level dialogues, the national coordinators’ meetings, as well as the 17 rounds of forums covering a broad spectrum of areas have built the mechanism into an institutialized one.

As the partnership sails toward the next phase, the foreign minister suggested that China and the LAC countries seize the opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road, promote cooperation under what is known as the “1+3+6” framework, and strive for an upgrading and innovative development of China-LAC cooperation.

In July 2014, Xi laid out the “1+3+6” cooperation framework in his keynote speech at a China-LAC summit held in Brasilia, Brazil.

The “1” refers to the China-LAC Countries Cooperation Plan 2015-2019 by which specific cooperation projects should be guided. The “3” identifies three driving forces for cooperation, namely trade, investment and finance. The “6” prioritizes six fields of cooperation, including energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, as well as information technology.

Specifically, Wang made a four-point suggestion, saying China and the LAC countries should jointly build “grand connectivity” covering both sea and land, cultivate “grand markets” that are open and reciprocal, create “grand industries” featuring advanced and independent technologies, and launch “grand communication” based on equality and mutual trust.

The foreign minister called on the two sides to make Monday’s meeting a fresh starting point for a new phase of China-LAC partnership characterized by expanded cooperation, more favorable structures, a stronger driving force and better qualities.

Officials representing LAC countries at the meeting lauded the cooperation outcomes in the past three years and the active role the China-CELAC Forum played during the process.

They unanimously agreed that the Belt and Road Initiative has provided their countries with ample development opportunities. They expressed the hope that by learning from China’s experience and joining the Belt and Road Initiative, the LAC countries will achieve common development with China.


80 Percent of the Total Bitcoin Supply Have Now Been Mined

Thanks; Jamie Redman

Published; January,15

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

Solving the General’s Problem

This has given individuals reason to believe that Satoshi solved one of the hardest computational equations, the Byzantine General’s problem, a security flaw that had plagued computer scientists for decades. Essentially the problem exists with distributed networks as the issue brings certain faults or security flaws making it easy to attack. This, in turn, makes it hard for protocols to prove something because there is an unsolvability proof within the network.

With Satoshi’s Proof-of-Work in the original bitcoin protocol, the economic measure makes it difficult to attack by making threats to the network costly, and time-consuming. For the first time ever in the world of digital computing, Satoshi introduced an asset that couldn’t be copied or double spent. And at the same time, he limited the supply which also introduced digital scarcity like no other technology before it.

Digital Scarcity and the Next Halving

Because there are only 21 million bitcoins the cryptocurrency’s limited availability make the asset harder to acquire the more scarce it becomes. In most cases when an asset is limited and resources are harder to come by, the supply causes demand for the market. The supply of bitcoin shows a significant gap between how many there are and those who want to obtain some. A great majority of bitcoiners believe digital scarcity will make bitcoin more valuable over time, and with 16.8Mn mined so far it will get harder.

In addition to the difficulty in accessibility miners themselves are going to have to up their processing power constantly. In two years or less depending on hashrate speed, the next miner reward halving is approaching. This means instead of miners getting 12.5 BTC for every block they mine they will get 6.25 BTC in two years time. This network consensus agreement of a halving every four years will make bitcoins more difficult to obtain even for the large warehouses all over the world filled with data processors. Every one of them and ASIC technology itself will have to progress for mining operations to continue profiting. Of course, the price per bitcoin should also be higher than the cost to mine the currency as well.

Unlike Ripple’s 100 Billion There Will Only Be 21 Million Bitcoins

Another thing to consider while observing the vast blockchain environment is that Satoshi’s creation unlike the 1,300 other cryptocurrencies in existence has only 21 million. Other digital currencies have billions already in circulation and billions more to come using other less tested consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Stake. So in essence bitcoin’s inventor created something unique and different than the digital goods we all swap today. Unlike your MP3s or digital movies, bitcoins cannot be copied, and this weekend 16.8 million of them have been mined, hoarded and a large number of them have been lost. To many cryptocurrency investors, this makes Satoshi’s invention a very valuable digital asset, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

What do you think about 80 percent of the bitcoins being mined into existence this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

237 companies worth $6.3 trillion in market cap now backing climate-risk disclosures

Thanks;Ciara Linnane

Published: Dec 12, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Task force seeking voluntary climate disclosure has more than doubled its support base since June

The Atlantic hurricane season broke records in 2017.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) now has 237 companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $6.3 trillion that have publicly committed to its goals, according to its head, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and entrepreneur.

The TCFD was established by the group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, and published its recommendations in June with the aim of encouraging companies to help investors understand the risks to their investments from temperature change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

The companies that have signed up include more than 150 financial firms with assets of more than $81.7 trillion, the TCFD said in a statement released at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse emissions. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, dismaying climate activists but spurring a greater effort from the private sector to push through its goals without government help. Insurers have said anything higher than a 2 degree-temperature increase would make the world uninsurable.

In case you missed it: U.S. health insurers are in a state of denial about climate change

The companies span a broad range of industries and sectors, from construction to consumer goods, energy, metals and mining, as well as the full capital and investment chain, from companies that issue debt and equity to the largest credit rating agencies and stock exchanges. The list includes Bank of America Corp. BAC, +1.31% , BlackRock Inc. BLK, +1.09% , Citigroup Inc. C, +0.40% JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +1.16% , Morgan Stanley MS, +2.05% and investors including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, among others.

“Climate change poses both economic risks and opportunities,” said Bloomberg. “But right now, companies don’t have the data they need to accurately measure the risks and evaluate the opportunities. That prevents them from taking protective measures and identifying sustainable investments that could have strong returns.”

Read now: In Trump era it’s up to companies to push climate agenda, advocates say

The movement won a victory late Monday, when energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM, -0.33% said it would disclose details on how climate change may affect its business, bowing to pressure from shareholders who voted 62% in favor of a resolution on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting this year.

Companies are expected to start making the first disclosures in the coming year and the TCFD will report on their progress this time next year at the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Carney.

The task force is also planning to launch a web-based platform to further support companies that are interested in implementing its recommendations. The TCFD Knowledge Hub will go live in the first quarter and be available via

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 19% in 2017, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.49% has gained 24%.

Read now: Axa to spend €1.2 billion to fight climate change


Top 100 City Destinations Ranking: WTM London 2017 Edition

Thanks;Wouter Geerts

Published;NOVEMBER 7TH, 2017

Euromonitor International is pleased to release its annual Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading cities in terms of international tourist arrivals. For the first time, the Top 100 City Destinations Ranking 2017 Edition was unveiled at World Travel Market (WTM) London, the leading travel and tourism event worldwide. This year’s report includes forecast data up to 2025 and incorporates future travel trends to give further insight on how travel trends are borne out of the opportunities and challenges that cities face.


According to the report, Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world, benefiting from its strategic location and relationship with China, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Asian cities dominate the global destination rankings thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism. In 2010, 34 cities from Asia Pacific were present in Euromonitor International’s ranking. This jumped to 41 cities in 2017 and is expected to grow to 47 cities in 2025. Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade with Singapore overtaking London as the third most visited city in the world by 2025 making the podium fully Asian.

On the contrary, the performance of European cities has been hampered by several events in recent years, including the Eurozone and migrants crisis, as well as Brexit and terrorist attacks. Despite the uncertainty, some European destinations, in particular Greece, Italy and Spain have profited from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as they offer a similar climate to countries affected by unrest such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.


Performance in the MENA region has fluctuated greatly in recent years, however Euromonitor forecast data show a recovery for the region in 2017 and beyond. Most noteworthy, it is expected that Egypt will register growth in 2017, after a strong decline in 2016. While the Middle East and North Africa’s main challenges are wars and border disputes, Africa is looking to do the reverse: opening borders and enhancing collaboration with the African Union’s plans towards seamless border. African leaders are seeing travel and tourism as a way to boost the economic prosperity of the continent.

In stark contrast to Africa, the plans towards stronger border controls might weight heavily on America’s performance. Although seeing positive growth, US arrivals witnessed a slowdown in 2016 due to a strong dollar and political uncertainty surrounding the US elections. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, if the US drops out the NAFTA and imposes a 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, followed by Mexican retaliation, the impact on inter-regional travel would be considerable. New York, the most visited city in America and the only US city in the top ten most visited city ranking, has revised its 2017 forecast expecting a potential fall of 300,000 visitors, as a worst case scenario.


The top ten most visited cities are:











Source: Euromonitor International


Euromonitor International’s report drills down into the detail of the figures to highlight why some cities are performing better than others and how emerging trends are going to re-shape the travel industry and disrupt the ranking up to 2025.

Some of the key emerging travel trends identified by the report are:

Asia – Cashless Asia

Cities as Digital Investments

To ensure continued arrivals growth and sustainable expansion, Asia cities are streaming ahead with initiatives to become smart cities. A big step towards as “smarter” society and economy is the growth of digital payment facilities. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The impact on the travel industry could be immense, not only in the way people travel, but also by simplifying smart contracts.

Europe – Angels and EU-nicorns

Cities as a Start-Up

While overcrowding represents a key issue in many European cities, there is a growing drive amongst start-ups in Europe to address other pain points in travel. Some of the largest start-ups in travel originate from the US. However, the US is increasingly competing with European hubs for start-up talents and investment.

UK – Rail Revolution

Cities as connectors

Over half of the international travelers coming to the UK visit London. There is a major gap between London and the second city, Edinburgh, which has less than 10% of London’s arrivals. Making the rest of the UK more accessible is an important focus of the UK’s strategy with rail a key focus to achieve a better connectivity and movement of international visitors.

Americas – Recognize that face?

Cities as hubs of innovation

As part of his policy to tighten border control, US President Donald Trump has ordered increased speed in implementing biometric scanners at airports. The travel industry is not only looking at the face to merely identify a traveler, but also to tell travel players what it wants, through speech and emotion. Voice is widely lauded as the latest frontier, which would have big implications for travel.

MEA – Looking beyond borders

Cities as entry points

Performance in the Middle East and Africa has fluctuated greatly due to unrest in many countries. However, 2017 is expected to be a good year across the board. Dubai seems insulated from all the turmoil that is going on around it. The city’s tourism industry is booking and is adopting new technologies at rapid pace. Johannesburg is the only Sub-Saharan Africa city in the ranking. However, tourism is considered a pillar of its economic growth strategy and the city is investing heavily in technology.



Beauty and Personal Care in Australia Sees Strong Demand from Chinese Consumers

Thanks;Tim Foulds

Published;OCTOBER 30TH, 2017

Australia’s beauty and personal care market was supported by Chinese consumers, both local and international, who view Australian products with high regard. Chinese consumers are attracted to Australian products, not only in beauty and personal care but also in other industries including consumer health and packaged foods, which is due to the country’s clean and green reputation, strict regulations and quarantine control. Chinese consumers snapped up Australian-made beauty brands, particularly in skin care and bath and shower, with this trend supporting overall growth of the industry in 2016. Brands that resonate well with Chinese consumers are typically naturally positioned and feature natural ingredients.

Australian companies looked to capitalise on Chinese demand for Australian products, focusing on expanding their Chinese distribution as well as tailoring their products and retail stores to suit Chinese consumers. In 2016, chemist/pharmacy Amcal launched a Mandarin Chinese language version of its website, with the new store to ship orders from Australia to China. Australian online premium beauty retailer Adore Beauty opened a store on Chinese online platform Alibaba in 2016; however, the store was closed six months after opening, with the company to consider other channels to connect with Chinese consumers. Australian brand Goat Soap has become popular amongst Chinese consumers, with trade press reporting that the brand made AUD1 million in sales on China’s Singles’ day in 2016 through the company’s store on the Tmall platform.


The demand for Australian products is not expected to wane, with Australian-made and -owned companies to maintain their strong reputations locally and abroad. Australian-made products are more trusted and perceived as higher quality, with consumers willing to pay a premium for Australian-made. Australian companies will continue to focus on their China strategies, with an increasing number of sales expected to occur in China direct to consumers through Chinese e-commerce sites Tmall and An increasing number of Australian companies and retailers have opened their own sites through these channels, as they look to capitalise on the demand from Chinese consumers.

China provides promising export opportunities for Australian beauty and personal care companies, particularly given the challenging operating conditions in Australia with the high level of discounting activity. Natural skin care company BWX has seen success with its skin care brand Sukin, which has been performing strongly through drugstores/parapharmacies in Australia. The brand is a cruelty-free and vegan range featuring natural ingredients. BWX has been eyeing the Chinese market and has established Sukin flagship stores on online retailers and Tmall, as the company looks to increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers. Pental Products is also focusing on its China strategy through the export of its Australian-made Pental products, including its Country Life and Velvet soaps. The company has launched “The Australian Country Life” brand of goat’s milk soap for export to China, specifically tailored to this market.


Catalonia just declared independence from Spain

Thanks;Alexandra Ma


Pro-independence supporters wave the Catalan flag in Barcelona.Yves Herman/Reuters

• Catalonia has declared independence from Spain.

• Meanwhile, Spain’s Senate is voting over whether to allow the government to activate Article 155 and take control of Catalonia.

• Mariano Rajoy, the country’s prime minister, wants to depose the Catalan president and hold new elections.

• Friday’s vote comes a day after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to dissolve parliament.

• The power struggle came to a head after Catalonia voted to secede from Spain in October.

Catalonia has declared independence from Spain.

Lawmakers in the regional parliament in Barcelona voted to become a sovereign independent state against Spain’s wishes. Carme Forcadell, the president of the paraliament, also asked the EU to recognise Catalonia as a sovereign nation.

It came as Spain’s prime minister asked the Senate to approve Article 155, which would allow the government to take control over Catalonia.

The Spanish Senate gathered on Friday morning to vote on the emergency measures. It remains unclear which of Catalonia’s powers will be suspended if Article 155 is activated.

While the article’s language is vague, it allows the government to “take the necessary measures” if an autonomous region “seriously undermines the general interest of Spain.” Madrid can, in theory, take control of Catalonia’s police and finances, and replace its administration, Reuters reported.

The power struggle between Spain and Catalonia came to a head after 2.2 million Catalonians voted on October 1 to secede from Spain.

In a 33-minute speech on Friday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked that the Senate let him depose Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, replace the regional administration, and hold new parliamentary elections within six months.

Members of Rajoy’s People’s Party applaud after the prime minister’s speech.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty

The vote came a day after Puigdemont refused to dissolve the regional parliament, as Spain had requested, saying he had not received guarantees from Madrid that it will ditch plans to trigger Article 155.

But Rajoy piled the blame on Puigdemont, telling the Senate: “The fault is his, and only his. The 155 is not against Catalonia, but to prevent the abuse of Catalonia.”

If the Senate gives Rajoy the go-ahead, this would be the first time Spain invokes Article 155 in its constitution’s 39-year history. The constitution, which said the country was “indivisible” but respected territorial self-government, gave Catalonia the right to its own language and control over healthcare and education, according to Bloomberg.

Rajoy said: “It is the first time since 1978 that Article 155 is adopted because the situation is exceptional.” He also said the referendum was “the biggest mockery of democracy we have seen since the adoption of the Constitution.”

The Catalan parliament is still in session, and could declare independence on Friday, the New York Times reported.


Thousands turn out to see lavish funeral of Thailand’s late king

Thanks;Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panu Wongcha-um

Published;WED OCT 25, 2017 / 9:00 PM EDT

Mourners wait for the start of the funeral procession for Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej before the Royal Cremation Ceremony in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, October 26, 2017.


(Reuters) – Thousands of people turned out in Bangkok to watch the funeral procession of Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday, with buildings draped in yellow marigolds and mourners lining the streets on the eve of his cremation.

Mourners dressed in black slept overnight on thin plastic mats on pavements near the Grand Palace in the Thai capital in order to secure a good view of the procession, which was expected to begin at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT).

The king’s cremation will feature ancient rites and a series of processions winding from the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s historic quarter to the 50-metre (165-feet) high Royal Crematorium that has been erected in a square near the palace.

His body will be pulled from the Grand Palace to the cremation site on a golden chariot. A sum of $90 million has been set aside for the funeral, the likes of which has never been seen in Thailand, officials in preparations have said.

King Bhumibol, also known as King Rama IX, died last October aged 88 after ruling for seven decades. He played a pivotal role in maintaining stability during years of political upheaval and rapid development.

Piyamat Potsopho, 38, said she had been waiting for the king’s funeral procession since Wednesday night.

“I was very fortunate to have been born under the reign of King Rama IX,” she said.

Another Bangkok resident, Suchinda Samparp, 67, said: “It’s so hard to describe the dedication I’ve seen, how people have come out to help each other and how the late king has inspired this.”

Analysts say the king’s death has left a large vacuum in the Thai psyche.

Thailand has observed a year of mourning for King Bhumibol and radio and television stations have played songs dedicated to the monarch almost non-stop since his death.

The songs urge Thais to follow in “father’s footsteps”.

King Bhumibol is often referred to as “father” by Thais and is credited with reviving the popularity of the monarchy in Thailand.

Days of heavy rain failed to deter mourners, many of whom pitched tents in order to gain the best access to the funeral.

Many businesses around the Southeast Asian nation were shut, while Bangkok’s old quarter was draped in floral garlands made of marigolds early. Some government buildings placed potted yellow marigolds around portraits of the late king.

King Bhumibol was born on a Monday, a day which Thais associate with the colour yellow.

Thai Buddhists traditionally keep the bodies of their dead for seven days before a cremation. Funerals of Thai royals, however, have historically taken place months after death.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Paul Tait)


There are no Muslim or Christian terrorists: Dalai Lama

Thanks;IANS in India


There are no Muslim or Christian terrorists because terrorists are no more religious once they embrace terror, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday.

“People cease to be Muslim, Christian or any group the moment they became terrorists,” the Dalai Lama said at a public reception here on the second day of a three-day visit to Manipur.

The Tibetan leader also said that he does not like the “America first” slogan of US President Donald Trump.

A strong votary of non-violence, the Nobel Prize winner said violence does not solve any problem.

“India, which has a tradition of 1,000 years of non-violence, could ensure world peace by reviving the ancient knowledge.”

According to him, almost all the problems people face today were “our own creation”.

He underlined the need to control emotions. Anger weakens people’s immune system and as such was bad for health, he warned.

“Out of seven billion people on earth, six billion are children of god while one billion are non-believers.”

Problems around the world can be solved through dialogue, said the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959 and who is hated by the Chinese Communist regime.

India with her ancient knowledge and education could ensure world peace, he said. “China has also potentialities except for the Communist ideology.”

The spiritual leader said that the widening gap between the rich and poor was morally wrong. “This gap is visible in India and Manipur also.”

In his speech, the Dalai Lama recalled how he came to India as a refugee 58 years ago. India is also home to some 100,000 Tibetans.


New Lifestyles System Data: 2017 Global Consumer Trends Survey Results

Thanks;  Euromonitor Research

Published; SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2017

images (2)

We are excited to announce that the latest consumer survey results from the 2017 Global Consumer Trends survey are now live in the Lifestyles dashboard in our Passport database. Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends surveys help companies stay ahead of a fast-changing consumer landscape by reaching out to internet-connected consumers from across the globe, then translating the results into comprehensive analysis and actionable opportunities.

Euromonitor International’s latest Global Consumer Trends survey data reveals a multitude of information about the 2017 consumer. With a global environment of rapid change and constant innovation, it is no surprise that consumer’s lifestyles are adapting quickly. The megatrend analysis enables Euromonitor International to identify emerging trends, while also monitoring how long-term megatrends are shaping the world. These megatrends are applicable to this year’s survey results.  Read on to learn more about the five key trends shaping consumer lifestyles.

Experience More

Millennials lead the way in trading the accumulation of things for experiences, particularly authentic, international travel opportunities. However, all consumers of all ages are looking for more time to relax.

Middle Class Retreat

Shopping preferences vary widely across markets and consumer segments, with some focused on buying fewer, high quality products and others succumbing to the pull of bargain hunting.

Connected Consumers

Consumers must now balance the benefits of ever-present internet access with added stresses and challenges to focus on “real world” activities.

Healthy Living

While consumers across the globe have nearly-endless access to health and wellness information, those with higher education are most likely to take advantage of tech advancements and opportunities to research and monitor their health.


Meal preparation from scratch is often the first thing to go as consumers juggle priorities, particularly among younger consumers who are more likely to turn to meal preparation kits or delivery / takeaway options that offer convenience and premium ingredients.

To learn more about the latest Lifestyles trends, download our free survey extract or request a demonstration of Passport. If you’re a current client, the full system refresher highlighting key survey findings across all major consumer lifestyles areas can be found in the Lifestyles system in Passport.



These 6 books can make you a better college student

Thanks;Drew Housman

Published;Aug 27, 2017 8:18 a.m. ET

Understand statistics, gain financial literacy and get out of your comfort zone

I did very little reading the summer before I started college. I was focused on figuring out which roommate was going to bring the mini-fridge to the dorm, what posters to hang and what classes to take.

I wish I would have realized how many engaging, well-written, informative books there are that could have helped me get more out of my college experience. While none of them would teach me the finer points of suppressing the need to burp while chugging beer out of a funnel, they certainly would have helped me avoid some of the typical college pitfalls.

If had a time machine, I’d go back and have 18-year-old Drew put down the PlayStation controller and read the following six books.

“How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff”

This book is a fun romp through what I found, in high school, to be an interminably boring subject — statistics. I can feel my eyes glazing over just thinking about Mrs. Camacho, my junior year teacher, saying the words “standard deviation.”

Yet once I was in college, I was kicking myself for not having a better grasp of statistics. In almost all of my classes, I was faced with a dizzying array of studies to interpret, and I had no rules of thumb for figuring out what was good science and what wasn’t. Reading Huff’s book would have made me feel much more comfortable reading through all kinds of studies.

Huff excels at using real-world anecdotes to explain how stats can be manipulated, twisted and spun in order to influence or even trick the average person. A great example is when he takes on something as seemingly obvious as the word “average.” He details how, with a loose enough interpretation of that word, you can do some nefarious things.

For instance, a Realtor might sell you on the benefits of a particular neighborhood by proclaiming that the average income of the residents is $100,000 per year. But, unless you know whether she’s talking about the mean, median, or mode, you don’t know what to make of that seemingly impressive statement. As Huff puts it, using the word average to mean any number of things is “a trick commonly used, sometimes in innocence but often in guilt, by fellows wishing to influence public opinion or sell advertising space.”

Even though it’s over 60 years old, the book feels as relevant as ever. In a world where “fake news” is the phrase du jour, it’s critical to have an understanding of statistics. People from all sides of the political spectrum are going to try to spin jobs reports in their favor. Food companies are going to present nutrition studies so as to make their product look like the best choice. Your future boss might even try to skew your performance history so as to deny you a promotion. If you aren’t confident enough to form your own opinions that are rooted in a basic understanding of statistics, you’re going to be buffeted about by the winds of those who might see you as a sucker.

Furthermore, I think there’s a great benefit in reading books that make complex topics accessible by showing how your budding knowledge can be applied in the real world. When you have a broader understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s easier to get through the boring parts.

“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport”

“Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a tenured professor and a best-selling author who churns out books at an impressive pace. How does he do it? By making room, every day, for what he terms “deep work.” These are chunks of time where he is singularly focused on one aspect of one project. He sits in a quiet room, sets a timer, and zeroes in on the task at hand.

The book is part an exploration of famous folks throughout history who embodied the “deep work” lifestyle, and part helpful tips on how to organize your life to make deep work more accessible.

It sounds simple, and it is. But that’s what’s so great about it. We are surrounded by tools, tech and apps that are all built to supposedly make life more efficient. Newport looks at things holistically, and understands that more important than any new app is developing the ability to sit down in a quiet room and just work.

Back when I started college, I was plenty distracted by my school email, my personal email, Facebook and my PlayStation 2. Now, that looks quaint. College freshmen have smartphones, Instagram, Snapchat, and a bevy of other time killers that are just a click away. If you can’t learn to harness the impulse to go down a YouTube rabbit hole, you’ll never be able to keep up with a full college workload.

My first semester of college was a whirlwind. It felt like every class was assigning an unsustainable amount of homework. And when faced with the siren call of emails and texts, it never seemed like I was making consistent headway on my tasks. Had I been better versed in the idea of deep work, I would have made it a priority to set aside a certain amount of time every day to do distraction-free work.

Cal Newport would have made me a firm proponent of living a life that minimizes the distractions that come from modern “conveniences.” I would be more likely to purposely limit my cellphone usage, eschew Flappy Bird for internal reflection while riding the bus to class, and to check my email only once per day. In a world where we check our phones upward of 46 times per day, staying on task while limiting access to technology is as important as ever.

Related: Deep Work and Deep Learning for Your Career and Your Life

“Early Retirement Extreme” by Jacob Lund Fisker”

My 18 year-old-self would have scoffed at reading a book with such a gimmicky title. But, I now know that this book is not espousing a lifestyle of Top Ramen noodles and living with roommates your whole life. It’s a philosophical treatise on the hows and whys of living a happy, sustainable life.

The author is a former physicist who left academia and retired in his early 30s. His book details how he was able to retire early even though he never earned more money than the average tollbooth worker, and he never inherited a windfall. This aspect of the book is particularly inspiring. Many luminaries in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) world just happen to have tech jobs that pay them six-figure salaries, plus bonuses. It’s intimidating to try to follow in their footsteps. When someone shows you a path to financial freedom while earning $40,000 a year, it feels more accessible.

The book makes a point of convincing the reader that, with a little effort, they can become a “renaissance man” — the type of person who can insource a lot of tasks that we now reflexively pay others to do for us. We can save a lot of money by cleaning our own homes, doing our own taxes, cooking our own food and properly maintaining our clothing. Such tasks must be undertaken with the understanding that it’s inherently rewarding to be self-sufficient. Frugality does not have to mean sacrificing your happiness.

The book also serves as a way to gain basic financial literacy, an area where our K-12 educational system consistently lets us down. I entered college with no idea how to build credit, how to invest or how to balance a budget. “Early Retirement Extreme” covers all of that without dumbing anything down, and it also goes over everything from calculating the true cost of home ownership to the importance of using your savings rate as a way to monitor your financial health.

The book really shines in the way it addresses things through the lens of building robust systems and encouraging the reader to think outside the box. Had I read this before college, I may have been more inclined to try to start side hustles and think about ways I could build a wide range of skills so I’d never be jobless in a recession.

At my college, it often felt like success was defined by the number of zeros in your bank account, or whether you had lined up a prestigious job after graduation. It doesn’t have to be like that. It’s up to you to decide what path you want to take. Just because your parents and grandparents worked a 9-5 job until they were 65 doesn’t mean you have to. “Early Retirement Extreme” can help young people think about their career trajectories, and their lives, in a whole new way.

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand”

Eighteen-year-olds, my younger self included, can be a bit dramatic. A bad grade, or a fight with your roommate, can feel like the end of the world. But, obstacles like that will inevitably arise, and how you deal with them will be a major determinant in how much you get out of the college experience.

Reading a book like “Unbroken” can help you keep your problems in perspective. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who faced being stranded at sea for a record period of time, only to be “rescued” and put into a Japanese prisoner of war camp. He faced conditions that would have made me think twice before complaining about how unfair it was that I got put in a dorm without central air conditioning.

Hillenbrand tells the story masterfully, with rich details and perfect pacing. You feel like you’re right alongside Zamperini as he battles through one hardship after another. I have always been a sucker for underdogs and come-from-behind stories, and this book is near the pinnacle of that genre.

Zamperini’s resilience, determination, and stoicism are constant reminders that I need to appreciate the simple things in life that are so easy to take for granted. Sure, your dorm food might not be great. But once you’ve seen the world through the eyes of someone like Zamperini, you eat it with a smile, happy to live in a world full of freedom and opportunity.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie”

Again, my younger self would have been turned off from this book by the title alone. It sounds like a get-rich-quick manual for con artists. Plus, I had tons of friends — what use would I have with this weird book by a circus promoter?

But, had I taken the time to read it, I would have learned that it’s the ultimate guide to networking. I didn’t think I needed help with networking at the time, but I did.

I had a great crew of friends in high school, but I was never able to replicate that in college. This was partly because I was scared of the unknown. The unfamiliar people, the foreign landscape, the intimidating “career fairs” — I quickly found that I was much more comfortable staying away from all that. The world outside my dorm could be full of rejection and awkwardness.

Yet, once you read “How to Win,” you are better able to see those potentially scary events as opportunities. The book provides simple, easy-to-implement advice that can improve your confidence in social situations. The mere fact that it’s still being widely read, so many years later, should speak to its effectiveness.

If you can get out of your comfort zone and effectively network while in college, you’ll set yourself up to have better relationships and more lucrative career opportunities. It doesn’t have to be smarmy, and you don’t need to print business cards. You just have to realize the simple power of things like being a good listener, remembering people’s names, and avoiding arguments. If you develop a wide array of rich relationships while in school, you’re taking a tremendous step toward improving the quality of the rest of your life.

Related: How to Be More Likable, and Why That’s Financially Valuable

“Reading with purpose”

Not only do I wish I’d read all of the above before college, but I wish I’d digested them. I tend to read very fast. It’s a skill that serves me well, but also hindered me in ways. I was great at technically completing my college reading assignments, not so great at actually absorbing anything. I was much more focused on getting reading done just to say I did it. After all, there were videogames to be played!

So, that’s why I also wish I’d read “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren. It’s a bit pedantic, but on the whole it offers good tips on how to get more out of the texts you read. It extols the virtues of slowing down, taking notes, and rereading passages to make sure you understand them.

If you’re an avid speed reader, using the methods from this book will be laborious at first, like trying to run underwater. But, with time, you’ll realize that reading in a more focused, deliberate manner will improve your ability to get concepts to stick in your brain. As with Aesop’s famous tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

“Summing up”

If I had taken the time to slowly and methodically read the above books, I’m confident I would have had a better college experience. I could have made this list a hundred books long, but I think these six provide a nice base for those college students who want to be inspired while broadening their understanding of both themselves and the world.