01 Jun 2017

Ink: Home Cooking, Secure Retirements, and Restoring Humanity to Finance

Re: Mei Zhang (MBA 1996); Elizabeth White (MBA 1988); Mihir Desai


The Bookshelf

Travel maven Zhang Mei (MBA 1996), founder of WildChina, on her new travelogue (and recipe collection) and two other literary escapes for the armchair adventurer

Travels Through Dali with a Leg of Ham
by Zhang Mei

“People always want to know how I get under the skin of a place when I travel. It’s simple: I talk to people. For this book, that’s what we did. We drove around Dali—where I come from in southwest China—and spent time with people in their kitchens and at their dinner tables. Those are the places to get the best stories.”


A Year in Provence
by Peter Mayle

“The author is British, and he and his wife went to live in Provence. The French way of doing things differed from theirs, sometimes in surprising ways, but in the end, the larger humanity in people came out. I’m inspired by the simplicity of his life—and he’s a very funny writer.”


Personal Pick
The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey
by Linda Greenlaw

“Linda Greenlaw is a ship captain up in Maine. She documented one 30-day trip—prepping, being on the ocean, jostling to get the best piece of water to fish, and even managing the crew. It’s a very simple story but super engaging. It’s a part of the world that I knew nothing about.”



Zhang reveals her travel secrets on the Skydeck podcast



“Every eight seconds, another American turns sixty-five—that’s some ten thousand people per day. By 2030, nearly 20 percent of the population will be sixty-five or older, comprising the largest senior population in the history of the United States. And millions of boomer households are financially unprepared, one extended health crisis, job loss, or traumatic event from insolvency. …As individuals facing this situation, we’ve got to start talking about it if we want solutions. …We’re going to have to use our strength in numbers to change the national la-la-land conversation on retirement-income security.”
Elizabeth White (MBA 1988), on navigating the financial challenges she faced, from Fifty-Five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal


First Look

Professor Mihir Desai’s new book, The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return, seeks to redeem the oft-maligned finance industry. Desai argues that “viewing finance through the prism of the humanities will help us restore humanity to finance,” finding his evidence in works as diverse as The Maltese Falcon, the Bible, and Wheel of Fortune. Here, just two of the artists, philosophers, fictional characters, and others who make cameo appearances in this guide to finance and the good life:

(Getty Images/Bettmann)

(Getty Images/Bettmann)

Wallace Stevens: The 20th-century poet turned down a professorship at Harvard to work at a Hartford insurance company. As Desai explains, “[I]nsurance tries to make sense of the chaos of the human experience by capitalizing on patterns, and then creating pooling mechanisms for us to be able to manage that chaos. For Stevens, poetry had the same aim of addressing the chaos of the world.”




Elizabeth Bennet: The heroine of Pride and Prejudice is a master at risk management in questions of 19th-century matrimony, Desai says. Her decision at the end of the novel to marry the man she desires shows that she “understood that risk management is not a goal in and of itself—but rather a set of strategies to ensure that one can take the big bets one needs to take to truly create value.”

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1996, Section A

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