Weekend Briefing No. 432
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend. Hello from lovely Sedona Arizona!
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$1.57 trillion—The U.S. budget deficit has fallen by $1.57 trillion so far this year, thanks to rising wages and employment.
527%—The fish farming industry, which tries to sustainably farm seafood rather than hunt wild populations of fish, grew 527% from 1990 to 2018.
$77.80—The band Coldplay is running the cheapest tour operating right now, with an average ticket price of $77.80 per ticket, over 25% less than all of the other acts in the top 10 tours.
An Idea Machine is a network of operators, thinkers and funders centered around an ideology and designed to turn ideas into outcomes. An Idea Machine is a self-sustaining organism that contains all the parts needed to turn ideas into outcomes: (1) It starts with a distinct ideology, which becomes a memetic engine that drives the formation of a community. (2) The community’s members start generating ideas amongst themselves. (3) Eventually, they form an agenda, which articulates how the ideology will be brought into the world. (Communities need agendas to become idea machines; otherwise, they’re just a group of like-minded people without a directed purpose.) (4) The agenda is capitalized by one or several major funders, whose presence ensures that the community’s ideas can move from theory to practice—in terms of financing and lending operational skills to the effort. (Without funding, an idea machine is just that: an inert system that needs fuel to turn the crank and get it moving.) One of the most powerful examples of an idea machine is effective altruism (EA), a philanthropic school of thought that advocates for using high-quality evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to help others as much as possible. Nadia Asparouhova (10 minutes)
Winter is Coming
Here’s some advice for founders during the downturn: (1) Run your business like it’s … ya know … a business. The past few years have been all about blitzscaling. Now, profitable growth is the new black. Contrary to popular belief in startup ecosystems, profitability is probably the best place most companies can be in. (2) Delight customers. Even as you focus on managing your cash, don’t lose sight of what matters most: building something great that your customers will love. In times of cash conservation, it becomes more important than ever to keep your eyes and ears on your customers, build and ship for them fast, and be intellectually honest on whatever signal you get back. This is not the time to build more features. This is the time to work on things that matter—and only on things that matter. Fast Company (6 minutes)
The Company Reinventing D2C
Quince’s founders had successful careers in retail and manufacturing. They knew the process of making quality products but became disillusioned by inflated pricing and complex, wasteful supply chains. They started to wonder if quality could be more accessible. They set about simplifying the D2C model, focusing on quality products at the best value. Soon, their $50 cashmere sweater was flying off the shelves. Items that were seemingly unattainable were now within reach: European linen bedding for $130, washable silk blouses for $60, leather jackets for $150. They don’t do huge, wasteful production runs because they only make what they know will sell. (It’s common for restocks to sell out the same day.) They don’t follow trends because they believe in upgraded, timeless essentials. They don’t compromise on fair manufacturing and sustainable sourcing because why should you? Quince (Sponsored)
Startup tech company Showrunner raised a $4 million pre-seed round to fund its film production technology. They’re betting that Chicago will be the next big film production town and that their technology will make billion-dollar waves in the entertainment industry. The company’s software tools aim to help both industry giants and independent creators produce film content more efficiently—and to fulfill the company’s founding mission of getting Hollywood to treat their crews better. We’re proud to support the work this awesome team is doing. Reel Chicago (5 minutes)
First Round Review just released 35 questions a manager should ask themselves. Here are a few of my favorites: (1) Does my team know what success looks like for their role? (2) Does my vision for the team member’s trajectory line up with their vision for their own career trajectory? (3) Is anyone on the team just cranking out work without context? (4) What more can I say no to? (5) What have I been hesitating to share, create or act on? First Round Review (35 minutes)
Money and Happiness
There are 140,000 Americans who earn more than $1.58 million per year. They are the richest 0.1%. The researchers found that the typical rich American is the owner of an unsexy regional business such as auto repair shops, gas stations and business equipment contractors. Does being a millionaire make them happy? A study of thousands of millionaires led by researchers at Harvard Business School did find a gain in happiness that kicks in when people’s net worth rises above $8 million. But the effect was small: A net worth of $8 million offers a boost of happiness that is roughly half as large as the happiness boost from being married. New York Times (11 minutes)
Community and Longevity
Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proven that embracing community helps us live longer and be happier. The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ or even genes.
The Harvard Gazette (9 minutes)
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown. Brown takes us on a journey through 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.
Most Read Last Week
We Were Promised Jetpacks—We have jetpacks, and we do not care. Why?
Never Setting Sun—This 360° time lapse video follows the never-setting sun in a 24-hour trip around the sky above the Arctic Circle.
The Web3 Revolution—The new movement wants to free us from Big Tech and exploitative capitalism—using only the blockchain, game theory and code.
Funding Fridays is a briefing about the data and trends in startup funding. I send it out on the first Friday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Web3 Impact is a briefing I co-write with Banks Benitez about how Web3 is making the world a better place. We send it out on the third Thursday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Web3 Impact.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell
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