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100. Keep It Simple

In many sports, like diving, gymnastics, skating, etc, the way to win is to perfectly execute a high degree of difficulty move. In startups, unlike sports like diving or skating, you don’t have just one or two of three attempts to win. In startups, you get to show your stuff every day, all the time. So the better approach is to pick something simple to execute, nail it, then build on it with another relatively simple move, nail that too, and keep going. When, ten years later, you look back at what you and the team accomplished, it may well look like a reverse triple somersault with two twists in pike, and it will have been exactly that, and you will have won the prize too. But you will have done it by doing the easier things perfectly thousands of times instead of the hard thing just once. AVC (2 minutes)

 

99. Bananas

Around the world, people eat around 100 billion bananas every year. That creates around 270 million tons of waste–from peels to stalks–which are often burned or left to rot. Isaac Nichelson, a three-decade veteran of the sustainable fashion industry, learned of the magnitude of this waste and saw an opportunity. Food crop waste like banana by-products, pineapple leaves, flax and hemp stalk, and the waste from crushing sugar cane can be collected and spun into a natural fiber that can be woven into garments. While this concept is progressive, it’s really a reversion to the past–as recently as 1960, 97% of the fibers we used in garments and materials were naturally derived. Today, it’s only around 35%. Through his new materials startup Circular Systems, which converts these natural waste fibers into usable materials, Nichelson wants to set the fashion industry on a new path toward more sustainable production and sourcing. Fast Company (4 minutes)

 

98. There Will Be No Miracles Here

My friend Casey Gerald comes to our fractured times as a uniquely visionary witness whose life has spanned seemingly unbridgeable divides. His story begins at the end of the world: Dallas, New Year’s Eve 1999, when he gathers with the congregation of his grandfather’s black evangelical church to see which of them will be carried off. His beautiful, fragile mother disappears frequently and mysteriously; for a brief idyll, he and his sister live like Boxcar Children on her disability checks. When Casey–following in the footsteps of his father, a gridiron legend who literally broke his back for the team–is recruited to play football at Yale, he enters a world he’s never dreamed of, the anteroom to secret societies and success on Wall Street, in Washington, and beyond. But even as he attains the inner sanctums of power, Casey sees how the world crushes those who live at its margins. He sees how the elite perpetuate the salvation stories that keep others from rising. And he sees, most painfully, how his own ascension is part of the scheme. There Will Be No Miracles Here inspires us to question and reimagine our most cherished myth – the American Dream. Amazon (13 hours)

 

97. To Shake the Sleeping Self

On the eve of turning thirty, terrified of being funneled into a life he didn’t choose, my friend Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent the next sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Jed narrates the adventure that started it all: the people and places he encountered on his way to the bottom of the world, and the internal journey that prompted it. As he traverses cities, mountains, and inner boundaries, Jenkins grapples with the questions of what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to “wake us up” to life back home. A soul-stirring read for the wanderer in each of us, To Shake the Sleeping Self is an unforgettable reflection on adventure, identity, and a life lived without regret. Amazon (12 hours)

 

96. Why Americans Spend So Much on Healthcare

Despite the higher spending, the U.S. fares worse than the OECD on most major measures of health. The pace of improvement by other advanced nations has been faster on most measures since 1970. A big part of the problem in analyzing health spending is the opacity of the industry. Since insurers negotiate prices with providers, it is hard for individuals to judge health costs and make more informed choices. Of course, overall prices are rising. One reason prices are rising: Hospitals are becoming more consolidated and are using their market clout to negotiate higher prices from insurers. This consolidation contributes to the overall increase in health costs, research suggests. Hospitals with a monopoly in a geographic market charge significantly more for procedures than those in markets with four or more competing hospitals, according to researchers. Check out these 12 charts on US healthcare. Wall Street Journal (10 minutes)

 

95. The Patagonia Way

Incited by Trump’s agenda, Patagonia – a benefit corporation and #6 on Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies 0f 2018 – has upped its commitment to environmental activism, making an unprecedented bet on corporate social responsibility. This has served not only to energize product innovation and marketing but to grow the company’s brand awareness and sales. Rose Marcario, CEO, has overseen a quadrupling of Patagonia’s revenue in her decade-long tenure with the company, pursuing investments in sustain­able design and manufacturing and in startups allied with Patagonia’s mission. The company has built a righteous flywheel, like an Amazon for do-gooders: The more it invests in its beliefs and its products, the better Patagonia performs, develops creative solutions, and maps out a blueprint for other businesses, big and small, to follow. “Doing good work for the planet,” Marcario says, “creates new markets and makes [us] more money.” That’s the Patagonia way. Fast Company (7 minutes)

 

94. Future Factory

The best way to predict the future is to invent it… or so the saying goes. Back in the 1980’s a laboratory of misfits foresaw our future. Touch screens, automated driving instructions, wearable technology and electronic ink were all developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Today it’s creating technologies to grow food in the desert, control our dreams and build smart prosthetics. But my favorite project is run by Arnav Kapur. He’s developed a system to surf the internet with his mind. What happens is when you’re reading or when you’re talking to yourself, your brain transmits electrical signals to your vocal cords. You can actually pick these signals up and you can get certain clues as to what the person intends to speak. Those signals can then be used to surf the internet. If you’ve been reading the Weekend Briefing for a while, you know that one of my obsessions in brain machine interfaces. This is one of the best prototypes I’ve seen. Check out this video. 60 Minutes (13 minutes)

 

93. Blockchain & Fish

A new certification system, launched by blockchain company Viant and the World Wild Fund for Nature provides a step-by-step way to verify a fish’s journey from the ocean to the market to the dinner plate.The new initiative is the latest example of how blockchain can transform supply chains and preserve the integrity of the food supply. The fish are tagged with a QR code right after they are caught and are tracked as they move through the supply chain. Viant, which built its Ethereum-based blockchain platform with the help of Microsoft Azure and the Brooklyn-based incubator ConsenSys, the fish tracking tool is just one use of its technology. Fortune (6 minutes)

 

92. Atomic Habits

The title of this book is as brilliant and essential as the content. The concept is how creating positive habits at the smallest atomic level in your life can compound to make an atomic explosion of change. We’d all like progress in our business, relationships and life to happen overnight, and there are a million books that promise that.But James Clear instead gives us guidance on how to build achievable, replicable habits that lead to enduring positive change. I’ve learned a lot about the power of incremental improvement from this book. If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read to kick off 2019. Amazon

 

91. The End of the Beginning

One of my favorite venture capitalist Ben Evans, just posted a video of his presentation The End of the Beginning. He notes that close to three quarters of all the adults on earth now have a smartphone, and most of the rest will get one in the next few years. However, the use of this connectivity is still only just beginning. As we think about the next decade or two, we have some new fundamental building blocks. The internet began as an open, ‘permissionless’, decentralized network, but then we got (and indeed needed) new centralized networks on top, and so we’ve spent a lot of the past decade talking about search and social. Machine learning and crypto give new and often decentralized, permissionless fundamental layers for looking at meaning, intent and preference, and for attaching value to those. Ben Evans (24 minutes)

 

90. Average Speed

Anyone can feel a burst of inspiration, head to the gym, and push themselves for a single workout. That’s maximum speed. But what if you were to average all of your days in the last month? How many of those days included a workout? How about the last three months? Or the last year? That’s your average speed. From what I can tell, this principle holds true for your work habits, your eating habits, your relationship habits, and virtually every other area of your life. We all have an average speed when it comes to our habits. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, that average speed might be much slower than we’d like. The important thing is to be aware of what’s actually going on, realize that it’s within your control, and then embrace the fact that a small, but consistent change in your daily habits can lead to a remarkable increase in your average speed. In your health, your work, and your life, it doesn’t require a massive effort to achieve incredible results — just a consistent one. James Clear (8 minutes)

 

89. Accountable Capitalism

Corporate profits are booming, but average wages haven’t budged over the past year. The U.S. economy has run this way for decades, partly because of a fundamental change in business practices dating back to the 1980s. American corporations exist only because the American people grant them charters. Those charters confer valuable privileges—such as limited legal liability for their owners—that enable businesses to turn a profit. What do Americans get in return? Last week Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation to fix it – the Accountable Capitalism Act – which requires all corporations with more than $1 billion in revenue to become federally chartered and adopt a new model of corporate governance. The charter tells company directors to consider the interests of all relevant stakeholders — shareholders, but also customers, employees, and the communities in which the company operates — when making decisions. CEO’s who want to do right for their stakeholders frequently fall back on the idea that their first obligation is to do what’s right for shareholders. Warren’s new charter would remove that crutch, and leave executives accountable as human beings for the rights and wrongs of their own decisions. This concept is based on the benefit corporation model already in use in 34 states. I think this will be an interesting top down approach to encouraging business to do good. But if you’re a startup you can build your company from the ground up with these values in the benefit corporation. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want some help on that. Forbes (5 minutes)

 

88. A Poem for Parkland

My sister Katharine Westaway attended the March for Our Lives in DC last week and delivered this powerful, hard-hitting poem. YouTube (4 minutes)

 

87. Sex Recession

In a study hailed by every parent of a teenager across the US, the CDC found that from 1991 to 2017, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead—that rate hasn’t changed much.) Meanwhile, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has plummeted to a third of its modern high. When this decline started, in the 1990s, it was widely and rightly embraced. But now some observers are beginning to wonder whether an unambiguously good thing might have roots in less salubrious developments. Signs are gathering that the delay in teen sex may have been the first indication of a broader withdrawal from physical intimacy that extends well into adulthood. The Atlantic (13 minutes)

 

86. Interruptions

The average person today receives more information on a daily basis, than the average person received in a lifetime in 1900. The average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes. Collaborative Fund (4 minutes)

 

85. Delayed Gratification

You’ve probably heard of the marshmallow experiment. The researcher offered a deal to a child. If the child did not eat the marshmallow while he left the room, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. So, the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later. The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures. The researchers followed each child for more than 40 years and over and over again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever capacity they were measuring. In other words, this series of experiments proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life. James Clear (8 minutes)

 

84. Plastic Bag Ban

A year after Kenya announced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory – so much so that other east African nations Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are considering following suit. Kenya’s ban comes with the world’s stiffest fines and some businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives. But, in Nairobi’s shanty towns, the clean-up is changing lives. Waterways are clearer, the food chain is less contaminated with plastic – and there are fewer “flying toilets”. But it is equally clear that there have been significant knock-on effects to businesses, consumers and even jobs as a result of removing a once-ubiquitous feature of Kenyan life. The Guardian (4 minutes)

 

83. Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination. It received a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. I was fortunate enough to see it pre-release, and I was blown away. I didn’t expect to get so emotional (I went through a number of tissues) over Mr. Rodger’s simple concept of loving your neighbor. In our polarized and politicized world, this is the message we need to embrace. Do yourself a favor and go see it in theaters. YouTube (2 minutes)

 

82. The Best Year Ever

After the year we just had, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. Given the general outrage at everything, the rising risk of nuclear war with North Korea, the uncovering of sexual assault / harassment in many industries, the paralysis in Congress, warfare in Yemen and Syria, atrocities in Myanmar and an…. umm… unconventional (is that the word?) president. But 2017 was actually the best year in human history. A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell. Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water. Just since 1990, the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps. So, on this Saturday morning, take a moment to let this sink in and maybe even smile. (It’s good for you!). New York Times (7 minutes)

 

81. Best Of Intentions

A recent report entitled Best of Intentions reads like a theoretical generosity-inspiring playbook, chronicling the findings from several experiments that have nudged people toward auditing their own behavior and then acting more altruistically. More Americans feel like people should be acting at least twice as charitably as they really do. While most of us feel like people should be giving around 6% of their annual income to charity, the typical person actually gives about half that—only 3% overall. The gap between ambition and action leaves behind a huge sum of potential donations: about $291 billion. Best of Intentions gives tips to non-profits on how to close that gap. Fast Company (4 minutes)

 

80. Future of Work

If automation continues at its current pace, 400 million workers around the globe will be displaced by 2030. In spite of the vast economic effects these changes will bring, will we seize the opportunity to reconceive the very meaning of work? If mass automation is inevitable, what will our careers look like in the future? Four thinkers weigh in with their thoughts: 1) Automation will force us to realize that we are not defined by what we do. 2) The US can survive automation if it reimagines meritocracy. 3) Automation will take our jobs, but our personal data will save our paycheck. 4) Companies should help you retrain when you’re automated out of a job. Quartz (32 minutes)

 

79. Impact Investing & Empowerment

Impact should be evaluated by how the business model provides opportunity for empowerment. Not only by which consumer segment is served – by how the consumer segment is empowered. Not only by uniqueness of a product – by how the production, distribution and use of the product empowers the local community. A profitable company selling an improved cookstove to an impoverished woman could have minimal impact. Sure, the company is sustainable and the woman is marginally happier and healthier, but how is the business model shifting the locus of power to the local community to lift the community out of poverty? What if the Congolese mother said: “Give me the dirty old cookstove for half the price and give me the other half to do with what I want?” All of this is to say: If given the opportunity of financial freedom or having cleaner air in her home – what would the mother choose? This is not just a theoretical question – it is a question marginalized groups have answered many times. They have answered how every human does: “Empower us.” NextBillion (7 minutes)

 

78. Curiosity

The really fascinating, and even admirable, thing about Richard Feynman was that if he ever had a goal, it was simply this: to learn as much as possible in any direction that his innate curiosity took him. His orientation was pointed towards the most interesting thing he could find. The pursuit of interestingness, I think, solves the predicament that is inherent in goal-setting. It’s vague and nebulous enough to be honest about the unpredictability of the future, without being hopelessly lost in the chaos of pure luck and randomness. Interestingness isn’t hedonism or materialism or the chase of anything new and shiny that seeks to distract us. It’s deeper than that. It’s taking on that random project you had no plan to take on because you have a feeling that you might just learn something you didn’t know about yourself. It’s seeing a person you just met not as a potential partner or someone who can do something for you but simply as an individual who may open up a new, unknown, and unique dimension in your life. Medium (7 minutes)

 

77. Proof of Impact

Impact measurement has always been challenging. Could blockchain technology come to the rescue? The Ixo Foundation, based in South Africa, believes so. It is developing a “proof of impact” protocol allowing data about projects–for example, that a child has been vaccinated or that a tree has been planted–to be recorded on a distributed ledger (a blockchain). This enables the claim of impact to be verified as legitimate and for funders thousands of miles of away to see that their money has been well spent. It also creates a new asset class, a cryptographic token that’s issued as the claim is authenticated, that could become the basis for a more organized, regulated form of investing. Funders can fund an end-organization [that delivers a service] but fundamentally what they are buying is proof of the impact: a new digital asset that creates an opportunity for a new economy. Fast Company (4 minutes)

 

76. Unplugging

Baratunde Thurston wrote a brilliant (and practical) article about how he unplugged for 25 days and lived to tell about it. He has some interesting realizations: 1) I had become obsessed with The Information. Before The Unplugging, I wanted to read every feed and follow all the right sources so I could be connected to every important event and insight as they unfolded. 2) I shared too much. I spent an inordinate amount of time documenting, commenting on, and sharing experiences. In the process, I wasn’t fully having those experiences, since it was imperative that I tweet something relevant before they were even over. 3) I was addicted to myself. Our digital social tools feed right into that ego trap, since pretty much my every piece of self-expression is accompanied by performance indicators. I can measure how many “likes” an idea has. If my tweet was not retweeted, did I even tweet it? 4) Unoccupied moments are beautiful. The greatest gift I gave myself was a restored appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. I don’t need to fill every time slot with an appointment, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus. Unoccupied moments are beautiful. Fast Company (18 minutes)

 

75. Sex, Intimacy & Meaning

There may be more to sex than you think. Not only can it make you feel good physically, it can lift your spirits. In fact, it can give your life meaning, says a team of psychologists from George Mason University. Their study examined the relationship between sex frequency, quality with moods and overall well-being. The participants had to keep a nightly diary over 21 days where they wrote down their moods, if life felt meaningful, and whether they had sex since the last entry and whether it was good and intimate. The results show that sex increases one’s sense of self-worth or meaning in life. Additionally, (and perhaps unsurprisingly) the research showed that to have sex increase a sense of well-being the participants had to be in more intimate relationships. Intimacy was a greater predictor of the positive afterglow, while simply being in a committed relationship is insufficient to derive such benefits. Big Think (5 minutes)

 

74. A Farm Grows in Brooklyn

In sunny California, Elon Musk is upending America’s auto and space industries. And here, in a cold, gritty section of Brooklyn, his brother Kimbal has embarked on a project that’s just as significant in its own way: Trying to reboot the food system. The younger Musk is the co-founder of Square Roots, an urban farming incubator with the goal of teaching young people how to farm in cities while preaching the importance of locally sourced, non-processed food. In Brooklyn, budding agricultural entrepreneurs set up year-round farms inside 10 retired metal ocean shipping containers and grow crops like microgreens, herbs and strawberries. I visited Square Roots and chatted with CEO Tobias Peggs two weeks ago (and even got a t-shirt that I’ve been wearing too much). I was so impressed! By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be in urban areas. This just may be the solution that allows for them to eat healthy local food. USA Today (7 minutes)

 

73. Free Solo

This week National Geographic released a new documentary Free Solo in select theaters across the US. I saw it on opening night. It’s a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock … the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park … without a rope. Free soloing takes extraordinary commitment because you’re climbing without a safety system to catch you. Simply put, if you don’t perform perfectly, you die. It is the purest form of climbing, and the most dangerous. It’s just you and the rock with no margin for error. Alex Honnold prepares meticulously for his solos and has a specific talent — he can control his fear absolutely. The greatest athletes are judged by how well they perform under pressure. To be able to maintain total composure and execute perfectly for hours at a time when the stakes are life and death the entire time — that’s extraordinary. The choices you have to make to be a free soloist point to some very hard decisions — in a way, to the essence of some of the hardest decisions that a person has to make in life: ambition versus family/relationships, risk versus reward, etc. Watch the trailer and check out local screenings. National Geographic (6 minutes)

 

72. Millennial Activist CEO

Say what you will about TOMS shoes (I certainly have my own complex feelings on the company), but their announcement this week was the biggest act of activism I’ve seen from a Millennial CEO. On air, Blake Mycoskie announced a new campaign to end gun violence by making a record-breaking $5MM donation. It’s evolving their shoe-giving model to support organizations working toward the cause. Additionally, they are leveraging the power of their customers by making it possible for them to send a postcard to their Congressperson to let them know that they support universal background checks for gun purchases. See Blake’s emotional announcement on Fallon in this video. The Tonight Show (6 minutes)

 

71. Single Use

Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place. This doesn’t mean we should stop recycling, but that we should question how we can use plastic more responsibly. Scientific American (9 minutes)

 

70. Fireworks v. Drones

Call it Fourth of July 2.0: Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield saw a drone light show instead of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day. This is the first time Intel’s Shooting Star drones were used on Independence Day, the Santa Clara company says, although they were used at the Olympics, the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Lady Gaga, Coachella and more. Intel also showed off its first indoor drone show at last week’s Pride Parade in San Francisco. For the Travis show, the chipmaker developed a drone light show that used 500 drones and was synchronized to music. It also had animations that represents the history of Travis Air Force Base. The base is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Check out this video. San Jose Mercury News (2 minutes)

 

69. Finding Joy

We all start out joyful, but as we get older, being colorful or exuberant opens us up to judgment. Adults who exhibit genuine joy are often dismissed as childish or too feminine or unserious or self-indulgent, and so we hold ourselves back from joy, and we end up in a world that looks like this. But bright bold aesthetics actually create joy in the human brain. Ingrid Fetell Lee spent that last two years scouring the planet, looking for different ways that people have answered this question. For example, schools, transformed by the non-profit Publicolor. What’s interesting is that Publicolor has heard from school administrators who say that attendance improves, graffiti disappears and kids actually say they feel safer in these painted schools. And this aligns with research conducted in four countries, which shows that people working in more colorful offices are actually more alert, more confident and friendlier than those working in drab spaces. TED (4 minutes)

 

68. Big Decisions

If you find yourself mapping a “whether or not” question, looking at a simple fork in the road, you’re almost always better off turning it into a “which one” question that gives you more available paths. One approach, known as scenario planning, developed by a handful of management consultants in the 1970s, involves imagining three different future environments for each alternative: Concoct one story where things get better, one where they get worse, and one where they get weird. The psychologist Gary Klein has developed a variation on this technique. He calls it a “premortem” – imagine that it is months into the future and that their plan has been carried out. And it has failed. That is all they know; they have to explain why they think it failed. New York Times (7 minutes)

 

67. Message in a Purse

When Christel Wallace found a piece of paper folded up at the bottom of her purse in March 2017, she threw it in the trash. She hadn’t yet used the maroon bag, made by Walmart and purchased from one of its Arizona stores months ago. But after a few minutes, she got curious. She took the paper out of the wastebasket, unfolding the sheet to reveal a message scrawled in Mandarin Chinese. Translated, it read: Inmates in China’s Yingshan Prison work 14 hours a day and are not allowed to rest at noon. We have to work overtime until midnight. People are beaten for not finishing their work. There’s no salt and oil in our meals. The boss pays 2,000 yuan every month for the prison to offer better food, but the food is all consumed by the prison guards. Sick inmates have to pay for their own pills. Prisons in China cannot be compared to prisons in the United States. Horse, cow, goat, pig, dog. What would you do next? Vox (16 minutes)

 

66. S+R=G

A recent study found that best endurance athletes in the world all have one thing in common: they oscillate between periods of stress and rest. As an athlete, if you want to improve something—your 100-meter time, say, or your deadlift PR—you’ve got to apply a challenge, some sort of “stressor,” and then follow it with a period of rest and recovery. Too much stress without enough rest and you get injury, illness, and burnout. Not enough stress plus too much rest and you get complacency, boredom, and stagnation. Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that. That equation can be beneficially applied not just to fitness but to your career, team and relationship. Outside (5 minutes)

 

65. Golden Rules of Leadership

I just came across the ten golden rules of leadership. I thought I’d share 4 I like: 1) Know thyself. Understand your inner world, your bright and dark sides, your personal strengths and weakness. Self-comprehension is a fundamental precondition necessary for real leadership. 2) Do not waste energy on things you cannot change. Do not waste resources and energies on things you cannot control, and therefore, cannot change. 3) Let competition reveal talent. Nurture an environment that can use the forces of competition constructively, create a platform that releases the ingenuity and creativity of your employees in pursuing corporate goals and objectives, identify subordinates who use competition as a constructive force, steer away from subordinates who use competition as a destructive force. 4) Character is destiny. True leadership is ultimately traceable to factors of character and personal integrity; much of what is called “destiny” lies in our hands, not in mysterious forces beyond our control. Farnam Street (7 minutes)

 

64. NEOM

A startup the size of a country. That’s how Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS as his friends call him) is dubbing his ambitious plan to construct a $500B mega-city called NEOM by 2025. The proposed 10,230-mile city would span 3 countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan), run entirely on renewable energy sources, and serve as a “hub of cutting edge research and technology.” Described on its website as “the world’s most ambitious project,” NEOM was designed to attract foreign investment and reduce Saudi Arabia’s reliance on its primary export, oil. To finance the project, MBS is selling off a 5% stake in state-owned Saudi Aramco (which is worth as much as $2T). A dozen high-profile American tech executives, including Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman, and Travis Kalanick, joined the advisory board for NEOM. Watch the video on the site and let me know whether you think it’s inspiring or a pipe dream. NEOM (12 minutes)

 

63. Blockchain & the Earth

An opportunity is emerging to harness blockchain to address six of today’s most pressing environmental challenges that demand transformative action: climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, ocean-health deterioration, air pollution and water scarcity. Many of these opportunities extend far beyond “tech for good” considerations and are connected to global economic, industrial and human systems. Blockchain provides a strong potential to unlock and monetize value that is currently embedded (but unrealized) in environmental systems, and there is a clear gap within the market. The World Economic Forum and PWC just launched a report that identified more than 65 existing and emerging blockchain use cases for the cluster around the following cross-cutting themes: 1) enabling the transition to cleaner and more efficient decentralized systems; 2) peer-to-peer trading of resources or permits; supply-chain transparency and management; 3) new financing models for environmental outcomes; and 4) the realization of non-financial value and natural capital. PWC (36 minutes)

 

62. $4,000 House

New Story, a non-profit that builds housing in the developing world, has a new invention: a massive 3D printer that will soon be able to extrude an entire four-room house for $4,000 in less than a day. “We thought, okay, what if the bottom billion weren’t the last ones to get this, but the first ones to get this?” says CEO Brett Hagler. “It made sense for us to try to leapfrog what’s happening domestically, because our homes are so simple.” The printer, set on tracks, squirts out the concrete material in layers to build floors and walls, which harden as it goes, to build a 600- to 800-square-foot single-story home, with two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The R&D that led to the 3D-printed house is rare in the nonprofit world. But New Story has a unique funding structure; donations from most donors go solely to construction costs, while a small group of larger donors funds other expenses–including the innovation process. Fast Company (8 minutes)

 

61. Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is now the best-selling mid-sized premium sedan in the USA with 31% market share. Twitter (2 minutes)

 

60. Imagination

In our increasingly automated economy, your imagination will increasingly matter. Here is a process for making use of your imagination and generating new ideas. 1) Overload is the enemy of imagination. “Overload” is a mindstate where you have too much information coming at you to think creatively. 2) Ideas are, at their root, combinatorial. The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships between disparate elements. 3) Ideas happen when you aren’t thinking. Voluntary abstention from conscious thought on any problem may, itself, take two forms: the period of abstention may be spent either in conscious mental work on other problems, or in a relaxation from all conscious mental work. Weekend Reader (12 minutes)

 

59. From Thin Air

A team of scientists from Harvard University and the company Carbon Engineering announced on Thursday that they have found a method to cheaply and directly pull carbon-dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere at industrial scales, by 2021. Their research suggests that people will soon be able to produce gasoline and jet fuel from little more than limestone, hydrogen, and air. It hints at the eventual construction of a vast, industrial-scale network of carbon scrubbers, capable of removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. Above all, the new technique is noteworthy because it promises to remove carbon dioxide cheaply. As recently as 2011, a panel of experts estimated that it would cost at least $600 to remove a metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If their technique is successfully implemented at scale, it could transform how humanity thinks about the problem of climate change. It could give people a decisive new tool in the race against a warming planet, but could also unsettle the issue’s delicate politics, making it all the harder for society to adapt. The Atlantic (6 minutes)

 

58. McKinsey & Co(rruption)

In late 2015, over objections from at least three influential McKinsey partners, the firm decided to sign its biggest contract ever in Africa, with a potential value of $700 million. It was the biggest mistake in McKinsey’s nine-decade history. McKinsey’s proposal appeared perfect for a company in desperate financial straits. Eskom – a state owned energy company in S. Africa – would pay only if the plan produced savings. Then the consultancy would get a percentage. All the risk, ostensibly, would be McKinsey’s, since it might spend heavily but get nothing in the end. They were betting the office and the firm’s reputation on this mega deal. The deal ended up being illegal and fraught with corruption. International corruption watchdogs call it a case of “state capture.” Lawmakers call it a silent coup. It has already led to the ouster of Zuma, the South African President. Yet McKinsey walked away with $100 MM for 8 months of work. How did McKinsey, with its vast influence, impeccable research credentials and record of advising companies and governments on best practices, become entangled in such an untoward affair? New York Times (18 minutes)

 

57. Racing the Rain

For the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the Monsoon season is approaching and there is a race against the rain. Their shelters are comprised of tarpaulin lashed to bamboo and sit perched on steep dusty hillsides, even a slight rain turns them into mud, the monsoon season will turn them into mudslides. The sewage from the 40,000 latrines will likely flood and contaminate the shallow wells spreading disease. In order to avoid fatalities that will come with the rains, workers are flattening hilltops, digging drainage systems and paving roads. But the efforts will only have a minimal impact and time is running out. This photo / video essay is one of the most stunning pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen. New York Times (14 minutes)

 

56. Career Advice

Choosing a career is an important, but daunting task. Leave it to Wait But Why to break it down for you in a very long form article. When selecting a career consider: 1) The general landscape. Take our best crack at evaluating the world’s current career landscape—the full range of options available (or create-able). 2) Specific game boards. For any careers that sound remotely interesting, ponder what the deal might be with that career’s current game board—the parties involved, the way success seems to be happening for others recently, the most up-to-date rules of the game, the latest new loopholes that are being exploited, etc. 3) Starting point. For those paths, evaluate your starting point, based on your current skills, resources, and connections relevant to that field. 4) Success point. Think about end points and where on each line your star should be placed. Ask yourself what’s the minimum level of success you’d need to achieve in order to feel happy about having chosen that career path. 5) Your pace. Make an initial estimate for what your pace of improvement might be on these various game boards, based on your current pace-related strengths and how much you think you can improve at each of them (in other words, how much your speed might be able to accelerate). 6) Your level of persistence. Evaluate the amount of time you think you’ll be willing to put into each of these respective paths. Wait But Why (134 minutes)

 

55. Maintaining Sibling Relationships

The quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age. If your sibling relationships need a little rehab, or you’ve long fallen out of touch, there’s still hope. 1) Heal the past. Having a discussion about each other’s experiences growing up is also an opportunity to acknowledge past sources of pain and heal them. 2) Share your goals. Visualizing what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your sibling — like having more frequent communication, for example — and see if this is something you both want to work toward. 3) Be realistic. Be realistic about how much you can expect from your sibling. Not everyone is going to be best friends with their siblings, that doesn’t mean the relationship can’t be healthy and life-giving. New York Times (9 minutes)

 

54. Slow Travel

Last week, our client Unsettled was selected from over 3,000 startups around the world to pitch on stage at the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Tourism Startup Competition, the world’s largest initiative dedicated to identifying the startups that will lead the transformation of the tourism sector. And… they took home the top prize! It is a powerful recognition for their efforts pioneering a new type of travel experience; one driven by a slower, more intentional form of travel and local experiences rooted in community, co-creation, and growth as much as adventure. It’s the experience and who you share it with, not just the destination, that matters most. Unsettled (3 minutes)

 

53. Fortnite (on the Couch)

The online video game Fortnite helped cause 5% of UK divorces this year. Quartz (4 minutes)

 

52. Death of the American Dream

That loose civic concept known as the American Dream — initially popularized during the Great Depression by the historian James Truslow Adams in his Epic of America — has been shattered. No longer is lip service paid to the credo, however sentimental, that a vast country, for all its racial and sectarian divides, might somewhere in its DNA have a shared core of values that could pull it out of any mess. Dead and buried as well is the companion assumption that over the long-term a rising economic tide would lift all Americans in equal measure. When that tide pulled back in 2008 to reveal the ruins underneath, the country got an indelible picture of just how much inequality had been banked by the top one percent over decades, how many false promises to the other 99 percent had been broken, and how many central American institutions, whether governmental, financial, or corporate, had betrayed the trust the public had placed in them. And when we went down, we took much of the West with us. The American Kool-Aid we’d exported since the Marshall Plan, that limitless faith in progress and profits, had been exposed as a cruel illusion. New York Magazine (13 minutes)

 

51. Phone Bored

Today’s teens are still bored, often incredibly so. They’re just more likely to experience a new type of boredom: phone bored. It’s tempting to think that mobile devices, with their endless ability to stimulate, offer salvation from the type of mind-numbing boredom that is so core to the teen experience. But humans adapt to the conditions that surround them, and technical advances are no different. What seemed novel to one generation feels passé to the next. To many teens, smartphones and the internet have already lost their appeal. Phone boredom occurs when you’re technically “on your phone,” but you’re still bored out of your mind. It’s that feeling when you’re mindlessly clicking around, opening and closing apps, looking for something to do digitally and finding the options uninteresting. The Daily Beast (6 minutes)

 

50. 30 Lessons from 30 Years

One woman discovered 30 simple truths about life at her 30th college reunion. My favorites are: 1) No one’s life turned out exactly as anticipated, not even for the most ardent planner. 6) They say money can’t buy happiness, but in an online survey of our class just prior to the reunion, those of us with more of it self-reported a higher level of happiness than those with less. 7) Our strongest desire, in that same pre-reunion class survey—over more sex and more money—was to get more sleep. 28) Those who’d lost a child had learned a kind of resilience and gratitude that was instructive to all of us. “Don’t grieve over the years she didn’t get to live,” said one of our classmates, at a memorial service for her daughter, Harvard class of 2019, who died last summer. “Rather, feel grateful for the 21 years she was able to shine her light.” 30) Love is not all you need, but as one classmate told me, “it definitely helps.” The Atlantic (10 minutes)

 

49. Successful & Unhappy

Why are successful people unhappy in middle-age? Well, it turns out that satisfaction turns out to be U-shaped, with the nadir (in the U.S.) at roughly age 50. In addition, high achievers are wired to be dissatisfied when we meet goals — that is the evolutionary motivation to do the next big thing — but the result is often cumulating disappointment. Year after year of finding success less fulfilling than we expected makes us pessimistic about ever attaining satisfaction. So, we are simultaneously disappointed in the past and gloomy about the future. If you are a successful professional with everything to be grateful for, feeling disappointed in middle age will make no sense to you. High-achieving professionals tend to make a heavy emotional investment in their careers. Faced with inexplicable discontent, they may fantasize about throwing away their job and starting life anew. As if all of that were not enough, high-achieving professionals face social pressure to seem masterly and invulnerable, especially in their 40s and 50s, at or near the supposed peak of their career. If they are feeling restless, dissatisfied, or trapped, they often tell no one, not even their spouse. But isolation only makes the problem worse. The Ladders (12 minutes)

 

48. Brain Machine Interface

Neuralink is a new company by Elon Musk which may eclipse Tesla and SpaceX in both the boldness of its engineering undertaking and the grandeur of its mission. The other two companies aim to redefine what future humans will do—Neuralink wants to redefine what future humans will be. (spoiler alert: cyborgs) (additional spoiler alert: we are already cyborgs.) This company will create a “whole-brain interface,” or a magical wizard hat—a brain interface so complete, so smooth, so biocompatible, and so high-bandwidth that it feels as much a part of you as your brain. A whole-brain interface gives your brain the ability to communicate wirelessly with the cloud, with computers, and with the brains of anyone who has a similar interface in their head. This flow of information between your brain and the outside world would be so effortless, it would feel similar to the thinking that goes on in your head today. Weekend Briefing (15 minutes)

 

47. On Aging

Though keeping our body in top shape is important, how we respond to aging is a choice made in the mind, not in the gym. If there is one characteristic common to friends who are aging with a graceful acceptance of life’s assaults, it is contentment. It’s about accepting uncertainties of old age without surrendering to them. However, it takes discipline to accept with dignity the inevitable decline awaiting us: frailty, memory lapses, dimming sound and sight, the passing of friends and the looming finish line. New York Times (5 minutes)

 

46. Wealth, Money & Happiness

Wealth isn’t necessarily an abundance of money — it’s an abundance of time. Or potential time. When you accumulate a lot of money, you actually accumulate a large store of time to use however you please. However, many of us are in a catch-22. We work more to have more money to buy more Stuff…but because we have so much Stuff, we need more money, which means you have to work more. How do you escape this vicious cycle? There are two ways, actually. 1) Spend less. The first (most obvious) way to remove yourself from this hedonic treadmill is to deliberately reduce your spending so that it’s below the level needed to maintain your lifestyle. Frugality buys freedom. 2) Buy time. A recent study shows that individuals who spend money on time-saving services report greater life satisfaction. When you treat time as money (and money as time), you can better evaluate how to allocate your dollars and your hours. When you know how much your time is worth, you can decide when it makes sense to “outsource” specific jobs. What about you? How do you view the relationship between time, money, and happiness? Do you have some examples from your own life of buying time in order to improve your happiness? What balance have you arrived at — and how did you get there? Get Rich Slowly (6 minutes)

 

45. National Parks

The 22 best national parks to escape the crowds this summer. The Guardian (6 minutes)

 

44. On Writing

This article has 20 tips from Stephen King. Here are some of my favorites: 1) First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. 7) Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. 11) There are two secrets to success. I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married. 19) You become a writer simply by reading and writing. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. Open Culture (7 minutes)

 

43. Are We Friends

You probably know that adding people to your inner circle takes time, but how much time it actually takes to go from strangers to buddies has been somewhat of a mystery—until now. A new study suggests you need to spend at least 90 hours with someone before they consider you a real friend. The report, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that it usually takes roughly 50 hours of time together to go from acquaintance to “casual friend” (think drinking buddies, or friends of friends that you see at parties); around 90 hours to become a true-to-form “friend” (you both carve out time to specifically hang out with one another); and over 200 hours to form a BFF-type bond (you feel an emotional connection with this friend). If you’re not sure where you stand with someone you consider to be a friend (or is a friend candidate), check out this tool. Interactive Friendship Tool (2 minutes)

 

42. What is AI?

What is Artificial Intelligence, exactly? The question may seem basic, but the answer is kind of complicated. As it currently stands, the vast majority of the AI advancements and applications you hear about refer to a category of algorithms known as machine learning. These algorithms use statistics to find patterns in massive amounts of data. They then use those patterns to make predictions on things like what shows you might like on Netflix, what you’re saying when you speak to Alexa, or whether you have cancer based on your MRI. Machine learning, and its subset deep learning (basically machine learning on steroids), is incredibly powerful. It is the basis of many major breakthroughs, including facial recognition, hyper-realistic photo and voice synthesis, and AlphaGo, the program that beat the best human player in the complex game of Go. But it is also just a tiny fraction of what AI could be. The grand idea is to develop something resembling human intelligence, which is often referred to as “artificial general intelligence,” or “AGI.” Some experts believe that machine learning and deep learning will eventually get us to AGI with enough data, but most would agree there are big missing pieces and it’s still a long way off. AI may have mastered Go, but in other ways it is still much dumber than a toddler. Check out this informative flow chart to understand what AI is. MIT Technology Review (7 minutes)

 

41. Glomar Explorer

In 1968, an aging Soviet sub armed with nuclear missiles and torpedoes sank in the Pacific. The Soviets couldn’t find it, but the US Navy did, three miles below the surface. Thus began a six-year covert salvage effort that led the US Central Intelligence Agency to team up with billionaire recluse Howard Hughes to build a deep-sea drillship called the Hughes Glomar Explorer. It all went swimmingly… until a mysterious group of burglars, the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor, and Rolling Stone magazine got involved. With conspiracy theories, erratic billionaires, and Russian espionage all top of mind, today let’s dive into one of history’s most ambitious heists. You can’t make this stuff up. Quartz (12 minutes)

 

40. A Very Important Letter

On Tuesday, the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies received a ground-breaking letter from one of the most influential investors in the world. Laurence D. Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm BlackRock, put business leaders on notice that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock ($6T AUM). “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” When I started in the social enterprise sector, almost a decade ago, I did not in my wildest dreams imagine that the world’s largest investment firm would declare plans to hold companies accountable to profit & purpose (somebody should write a book about that). Despite Mr. Fink’s insistence that companies benefit society, it’s worth noting he’s not playing down the importance of profits and, while it’s a subtle point, he believes that having social purpose is inextricably linked to a company’s ability to maintain its profits. New York Times (6 minutes)

 

39. Habits

Nothing will change your future trajectory like habits. First forget inspiration. Forget goals. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice. Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do). Habits can compound. Stephen Covey paraphrased Gandhi when he explained: Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny. In other words, building a single habit can have a wider impact on our lives. Farnam Street (11 minutes)

 

38. Skoll Awards

This year there were 6 Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship given to transformative leaders whose organizations disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change. Skoll (12 minutes)

 

37. Eudaimonia Machine

How can architecture help us get into deep work? Eudaimonia Machine (EM), a precise work space layout based on Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia, meaning the epitome of human capability. The EM is a multipart floor plan that effectively funnels employees through various spaces with the intention of triggering different mental states. The layout consists of 1) an entry gallery – get inspired and apply the right amount of peer pressure to create good work, 2) a social salon – low pressure space for socializing, 3) a multi-person office – the space to write emails and do that other work that is still important, but can be a distraction from deep work, 4) an archival library – a technology free space chocked with books for reading and thinking, and 5) the chamber—a site for deep work. Architectural Digest (10 minutes)

 

36. Fake Change

Leading up to the release of his book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Anand Giridharadas penned a column on the topic. He notes that world-changing initiatives funded by the winners of market capitalism do heal the sick, enrich the poor and save lives. But even as they give back, American elites generally seek to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm. It’s fake change. Fake change isn’t evil; it’s milquetoast. It is change the powerful can tolerate. A successful society should be a progress machine, turning innovations and fortuitous developments into shared advancement. America’s machine is broken. Innovations fly at us, but progress eludes us. A thousand world-changing initiatives won’t change that. Instead, we must reform the basic systems that allow people to live decently — the systems that decide what kind of school children attend, whether politicians listen to donors or citizens, whether or not people can tend to their ailments, whether they are paid enough, and with sufficient reliability, to make plans and raise kids. Changing the world asks more than giving back. It also takes giving something up. New York Times (8 minutes)

 

35. An Elite Charade

Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-founder of B Lab, notes that amid the criticism of Goldman Sachs, Uber, AirBnB, the World Economic Forum, the Aspen Institute, and the Clinton Global Initiative, Giridharadas asks whether B Corps are just another “elite charade for changing the world.” While criticism of B Corps is welcome. B Corps don’t believe they are THE solution to or guarantor of anything. B Corps do believe that business can be a significant contributor to creating and scaling solutions. We can only do this together. That is the most fundamental belief of the B Corp community as expressed in its founding document the “Declaration of Interpedendence.” If B Corps only signed a Declaration of Interdependence, Giridharadas’ apparent dismissiveness would be wholly justified. However, B Corps distinguish themselves specifically because they transform those potentially empty words in the Declaration into credible, concrete actions in the marketplace. The actions of B Corps address the fundamental design flaw in our economic system—shareholder primacy. Shareholder primacy is the legal principle that states the purpose of the corporation is to maximize profits for shareholders by any legal means necessary, even if doing so harms people, communities and the natural environment on which all life depends. B Corps overthrow shareholder primacy. By requiring directors to balance the interests of shareholders with the interests of workers, customers, communities and the environment. B Corps fundamentally shift power structures and the legal system which reinforces them. B Corps fundamentally change the rules of the game. Forbes (12 minutes)

 

34. 52 Places to Go in 2018

Not much to say here. If you have wanderlust and just want to scroll through beautiful photos from places like Buhtan, Switzerland and New Orleans, then this is for you. It’s like crack for travelers. The Times does this every year, but it gets more interactive and fancy every year. New York Times (52 minutes)

 

33. Calendar > To Do List

The likelihood of me getting anything done goes up significantly when I put something on the calendar. On a regular calendar, things that get represented are meetings with other people. The things that don’t get represented are the most important things, the deep work that will take 30 or 100 hours. Exercising or meditation. Calling your mother. Playing with your kids. When you have a way to represent things easily like meetings and you don’t have a good way to represent the important things, the things that are represented will be carried out and the things that are not represented will not get carried out. And as a consequence, your life will be filled with things that might not fit with your agenda. So, the real question is how do we get the representation of our lives to fit our real objectives? The Mission (5 minutes)

 

32. Love Map

The Love Map is 10 questions to help you either find or deepen love. Some of the questions I think are good, if you are searching for love are: 3) Partnerships that inspire me… 4) Those partnerships inspire me because… 5) Good Story: Write about a moment when you felt great in a relationship. What happened? Why is it such a great memory? 6) Bad Story: Write about a difficult moment in a relationship. What happened? Why was it so difficult? 7) Future Me: Sketch an image of where you’d like to be in two years. What career are you pursuing? What are you doing with your partner? Where are you living? The Experience Journal (9 minutes)

 

31. Intentional Parenting

What does the data tell us about how to be a good parent? Here are some nuggets: 1) The less rules you have, the more creative the child. 2) If you are going to create rules, they shouldn’t be about the rules themselves, they should be about the underlying values that they represent. 3) The conversation about “What did you do at school today?” is not that helpful. What’s much more helpful is “what’s something you did for someone else this week?” 4) Any time kids are interested in learning about something, find a book on it. Their challenge then is to learn about it, maybe to teach it to the rest of the family. Farnam Street (4 minutes)

 

30. The Three-Day Effect

On the third day of a camping trip in the wild canyons near Bluff, Utah, David Strayer – a cognitive psychologist – is mixing up an enormous iron kettle of chicken enchilada pie while explaining what he calls the “three-day effect” to 22 psychology students. Our brains, he says, aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too. Strayer has demonstrated as much with a group of Outward Bound participants, who performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days of wilderness backpacking. The three-day effect, he says, is a kind of cleaning of the mental windshield that occurs when we’ve been immersed in nature long enough. Strayer’s hypothesis is that being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle. When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor. National Geographic (8 minutes)

 

29. Care of Souls

Over the past four years a team of Harvard Divinity School Innovation Fellows have traveled the country and conducted research on Millennials and spirituality. They learned to see the impacts of our crisis of disconnection at four levels – personal, social, environmental and religious. The solution, they say, is that America needs to care for its soul. In order to do that, they list 7 different archetypes that need to apply their wisdom and skills to this new generation. 1) The Gatherer forms communities of meaning and depth. 2) The Seer helps us approach the sacred 3) The Healer breaks cycles care of violence. 4) The Steward creates the infrastructure for spiritual life 5) The Elder grounds our gifts in history and community 6) The Venturer invests in creative ways to support human flourishing. 7) The Maker reminds us how to be human. Harvard Divinity School (15 minutes)

 

28. Thai Restaurants in America

There are just 300,000 Thai-Americans—less than 1 percent the size of the Mexican-American population. Yet there are 5,342 Thai restaurants in the United States, compared to around 54,000 Mexican restaurants; that’s ten times the population-to-restaurant ratio. So, why are there so many Thai restaurants in the US? Munchies (5 minutes)

 

27. Motivation @ Work

What motivates people to work? Career, community and cause. Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation. Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness. Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride. These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse. Harvard Business Review (8 minutes)

 

26. GDPR! WTF? OMG! IDK?

I’m sure your inbox has overloaded with companies giving you a GDPR notices this week. If you’re running a U.S. startup, you may be wondering if it affects you. The answer is yes. I’ve personally been deep into GDPR research for clients for the last month. The statute itself is 86 pages long, so it’s no small task to understand how that applies to a specific company’s activities. After a bunch of searching, I have not seen a solid comprehensive article on how the GDPR impacts U.S. startups, so I decided to write one. If you are a U.S. startup and don’t know where to start, check out this article. Reply to this email if you want some help getting your company GDPR compliant. Westaway Review (12 minutes)

 

25. Light Phone

I just backed a really interesting project on Indiegogo called the Light Phone 2. It’s a beautifully designed (Seriously… It looks like a Deiter Rams) minimalist phone that nudges you toward spending less time on your phone and more time being present with people. Less time on apps, more time living life. It’s connected to your current phone number and operates a supplement for those days you need to focus or moments you want to be present. It does 5 things: calls, SMS, music, navigation and alarm. The phone allows you to “go light” and leave behind the distractions. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Indiegogo (6 minutes)

 

24. Happiest Guy in the World

Mario Salcedo has spent the last 6,900 nights on a cruise ship. In 1997, he quit his corporate job, packed a suitcase and quietly disappeared from the lives of his friends and family to pursue a new life on the open water. Kottke (7 minutes)

 

23. $10,000 Series A

Legal fees can get out of control on funding rounds. An average Series A tends to be $15,000 to $50,000. I’ve heard horror stories of the fees hitting $100,000+. For an early stage company, every dollar counts. Less money to lawyers means more money to impact. So, today, we’re announcing the $10,000 Series A. Westaway (2 minutes)

 

22. Wisdom of Experience

When Marc Chernoff’s grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer on her 90th birthday, he sat with her and she calmly and passionately relayed 19 truths about life. Some of my favorites are: 1) The willingness to do hard things opens great windows of opportunity. The best things are often hard to come by, at least initially. And if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out on them entirely. 2) Small, incremental changes always change everything in the long run. We want what we want, and we want it now! Remind yourself: you can’t lift a thousand pounds all at once, yet you can easily lift one pound a thousand times. Tiny, repeated efforts will get you there, gradually. 3) The biggest disappointments in life are often the result of misplaced expectations. When we are young our expectations are few, but as we age our expectations tend to balloon with each passing year. The key is tempering expectations of how something “should be”, it will greatly reduce unnecessary stress and frustration. 4) Sensitivity can be a super power. Although sensitivity is often perceived as a weakness in our culture, to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness; it is the characteristic of a truly alive and compassionate human being. There is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being “too emotional” or “complicated” are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more thoughtful, caring and humane world. Never be ashamed to let your feelings, smiles and tears shine a light in this world. 5) Most of the time you don’t need more to be happier,you need less. When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting. Life gets a lot simpler and more enjoyable when you clear the emotional and physical clutter that makes it unnecessarily complicated. Marc & Angel (10 minutes)

 

21. Enduring Love

Many scholars have claimed that enduring intense love is uncommon, almost always evolving into companionate love which, as time goes by, is low in attraction and sexual desire. Love is a trade-off, the prevailing wisdom goes: we can either soar briefly to the highest heights or we can have contentment for many years. No one can have both. Or can they? Perhaps in looking for enduring love we should look for profundity not intensity. The complexity of the beloved is an important factor in determining whether love will be more or less profound as time goes on: a simple psychological object is liked less with exposure, while a complex object is liked more. A complex psychological personality is more likely to generate profound romantic love in a partner, while even the most intense sexual desire can die away. Sexual desire is boosted by change and novelty and diluted by familiarity. Romantic profundity increases with familiarity if the other person, and the relationship itself, is multifaceted and complex. Aeon (19 minutes)

 

20. National Anthem

7-year old Malea Emma absolutely crushes the National Anthem. It’s a perfect storm of cuteness and patriotism. Watch and try not get a little bit choked up. YouTube (3 minutes)

 

19. 2018 World Press Photos

Ok… time to look at beautiful photography. These are the top images being considered to win awards in the 61st annual World Press Photo Contest. Jury members selected the nominees in eight categories, including the new environment category, from submissions made by 42 photographers hailing from 22 countries. The Atlantic (12 minutes)

 

18. Toys

A 7-year-old toy reviewer is officially YouTube’s highest-earner of 2018. Ryan of Ryan Toysreview brought in $22m of that sweet, American tickle cash this year alone. CNN (2 minutes)

 

17. Goals v. Systems

When it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, focus on systems not goals. What’s the difference between goals and systems? If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day. If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week. If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million-dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process. Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference. The Mission (6 minutes)

 

16. Confident, Connected, Committed, Courageous

To lead effectively — really, to live effectively — you must be confident in yourself, connected to others, committed to purpose, and emotionally courageous. Most of us are great at only one of the four. Maybe two. But to be a powerful presence — to inspire action — you need to excel at all four simultaneously. Harvard Business Review (6 minutes)

 

15. Shareholder Value

I was so excited when I saw that Chad Dickerson – former CEO of Etsy, and Weekend Briefing community member – had launched his own newsletter. As expected, it’s good. You should subscribe. Right out of the gate he dives into socially responsible business and shareholder value noting that our entire business ecosystem in the US operates on the notion of shareholder primacy, i.e. that “shareholder value” rules all. This concept is so widely accepted that it can seem to be a natural law — like gravity — or a divine edict. But it is neither of those. He notes that: (1) Today’s CEOs and the next generation of leaders who fail to understand expectations around social responsibility in business from Millennials — the largest cohort in the workforce right now — will fail to attract the best talent, and (2) The way one thinks about leadership, strategy, success, and business in general rests on how you think about the role of companies in society. Chaddickerson.com (9 minutes)

 

14. Stacking Habits

As we enter the new year, you may be contemplating how to make resolutions that you can actually keep. I feel you. I’ve never stuck to a budget, workout regimen or spiritual practice. I stumbled on to a system that works for me. By intentionally creating a set of complimentary healthy habits, I built a positive feedback loop generating consistent momentum that improved my health, wealth and spiritual practice. I call this stacking habits. I’ve been implementing it (semi-consistently) and it’s had a positive impact in my life. I thought I’d share it with you. I hope it’s helpful. Medium (7 minutes).

 

13. Upper Bound

In 1996, Southwest Airlines was faced with an interesting problem.During the previous decade, the airline company had methodically expanded from being a small regional carrier to one with a more national presence. And now, more than 100 cities were calling for Southwest to expand service to their location. At a time when many airline companies were losing money or going bankrupt, Southwest was overflowing with opportunity. So what did they do? Southwest turned down over 95% of the offers and began serving just 4 new locations in 1996. They left significant growth on the table. Why would a business turn down so much opportunity? And more importantly, what can we learn from this story to put to use in our own lives? The answer has to do with the upper bound. James Clear (7 minutes)

 

12. Personality & Organization

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment divides everyone into 16 distinct types based on how you perceive and judge the world, and it can be a useful tool for not only understanding your own strengths and weakness, but for understanding others as well. Your Myers-Briggs Type can also help you identify important strengths and consider how your weaknesses could interfere with your effort to achieve your goals. Working with your MBTI type instead of against it may be the key to helping you organize your life. For Instance, I’m an ENTJ. The article was on point when it said that ENTJs like things orderly AF. This one was on point for me. My desktop is always clutter free and my closet is color coded. Bustle (7 minutes)

 

11. Everything Is Amazing, and We’re All Sad

By every metric we are living in the golden age of humanity. Why then is there is so much profound discontent, depression, drug abuse, despair, addiction, and loneliness in our advanced liberal societies? As we have slowly and surely attained more progress, we have lost something that undergirds all of it: meaning, cohesion, and a different, deeper kind of happiness than the satiation of all our earthly needs. We’ve forgotten the human flourishing that comes from a common idea of virtue, and a concept of virtue that is based on our nature. For most of the Ancients, freedom was freedom from our natural desires and material needs. It rested on a mastery of these deep, natural urges in favor of self-control, restraint, and education into virtue. It placed the community — the polis — ahead of the individual, and indeed could not conceive of the individual apart from the community into which he or she was born. They’d look at our freedom and see licentiousness, chaos, and slavery to desire. They’d predict misery not happiness to be the result. We are species built on tribe; yet we live increasingly alone in societies so vast and populous our ancestors would not recognize them; we are a species designed for scarcity and now live with unimaginable plenty; we are a species built on religious ritual to appease our existential angst, and yet we now live in a world where every individual has to create her own meaning from scratch; we are a species built for small-scale monocultural community and now live increasingly in multiracial, multicultural megacities. For our civilization, God is dead. Meaning is meaningless outside the satisfaction of our material wants and can become, at its very best, merely a form of awe at meaninglessness. We have no common concept of human flourishing apart from materialism, and therefore we stand alone. New York Magazine (18 minutes)

 

10. The Pop Tart Joke

How does Jerry Seinfeld write a joke? He always writes on yellow note pads, no computer. (He doesn’t like that cursor staring at him begin him to be brilliant.) His jokes are really stories. There are a couple key points, but he pays special attention to the transitions, which he measures down to the syllable. Of course, the biggest laugh has to be at the end, which is very daunting. Listen to Jerry explain how he built the Pop Tart joke. New York Times Magazine (5 minutes)

 

9. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp, apparently spends $2 million a month. Rolling Stone (13 minutes)

 

8. What is Blockchain?

Blockchain, the key technology behind Bitcoin, is a new network that helps decentralize trade, and allows for more peer-to-peer transactions. WIRED challenged political scientist and blockchain researcher Bettina Warburg to explain blockchain technology to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert. This video is surprisingly approachable and compelling view on blockchain. Which explanation made the most sense to you. WIRED (18 minutes)

 

7. Circles of Concern

Circles of Concern are the things that you often waste time and energy worrying about, but that you have little to no control over. Meanwhile, Circles of Control are the things that can have influence in your daily life. By eliminating or reducing your Circle of Concern, you have more time and energy to put towards your Circle of Control. That means you have more mental space to use for creating art, starting a business, having meaningful conversations, or otherwise contributing to the world around you. On the flip side, the heavy barrage of information in our society can easily push most of your time and energy into Circles of Concern if you let it. When you’re overdosing on information that you can’t act on it’s easy to see why people say things like “it’s a messed-up world out there” or “somebody needs to fix it.” Why make an effort when everything seems out of your control? James Clear (11 minutes)

 

6. Building a Beautiful Pitch Deck

A good deck can be the difference in getting funded or not. There is a lot of advice online about how to build the perfect pitch deck. These articles typically give you an outline of what to cover in your pitch. The problem is that this is often all they do. There is rarely any guidance on how to present the content for each slide in a visually compelling way. I really like this template because: 1) For each topic in your pitch, it offers multiple ways to present your ideas so that you can pick and choose the visualizations that work best for the story you want to tell. 2) It is built in Beautiful.AI, an AI-powered presentation tool that helps you visualize your ideas instantly and takes care of 95% of the design work you typically have to do in programs like PowerPoint or Google Slides. This means that each slide in the template is incredibly simple to edit; will adapt its design as you add or update content; and will be beautifully animated. Beautiful.ai (15 minutes)

 

5. Best Podcasts of 2018

Here is a list of my favorite 31 podcasts of 2018 ranked. Kyle Westaway (14 minutes)

 

4. Icebreakers

The 25 most popular icebreaker questions based on four years of data. Signal V Noise (11 minutes)

 

3. Get To

As adults, we spend a lot of time talking about all of the things that we have to do. You have to wake up early for work. You have to make another sales call for your business. You have to work out today. You have to write an article. You have to make dinner for your family. You have to go to your son’s game. Now, imagine changing just one word in the sentences above. You don’t “have” to. You “get” to. You get to wake up early for work. You get to make another sales call for your business. You get to work out today. You get to write an article. You get to make dinner for your family. You get to go to your son’s game. The things you do each day are not burdens, they are opportunities. So often, the things we view as work are actually the reward. Embrace your constraints. Do the work. You don’t have to. You get to. James Clear (3 minutes)

 

2. Best Books of 2018

I finished 59 books this year. Here’s a complete list ranked worst to best. Kyle Westaway (59 minutes)

 

1. 100 Most Nutritious Food

Scientists studied more than 1,000 foods, assigning each a nutritional score. They came up with the 100 most nutritious foods. Almonds top the list. Second is Cherymoya (yeah… I hadn’t heard of it either). BBC (22 minutes)

 

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