Weekend Briefing No. 182

Welcome to the weekend! To kick off August, I’ve got two special treats for you. First of all, here’s my August playlist. Secondly, I’m doing a workshop on August 17th in NYC with one of my favorite brands ,Apolis. The focus of the workshop is to give tactical guidance to getting your writing published. Click here to get your tickets before they’re gone.

Prime Numbers

222,000,000 – The world greets its most expensive soccer player. Paris St-Germain bought global superstar Neymar from Barcelona for a record-breaking €222 million ($261 million). The 25-year-old—who will now earn €865,000 per week.

58 – Lately, Google’s Chromebooks have overtaken Apple products in schools, selling 58% of all devices last year versus Apple’s 14% share for iPads and 5% for Mac computers. That has a lot to do with lower prices as well as the near-ubiquity of Google’s free software suite.

19 – A report from HR technology company Namely analyzed data from more than 125,000 employees and found that high performers take about 19 days of paid time off a year, five more than an average performer under a regular PTO plan.

Early Deals at Chan-Zuckerberg

What has CZI been funding since their founding in 2015? The biggest bets have been in science, medicine (a $3 billion commitment “to end all disease,” anchored by the $600 million pledge to Biohub at UCSF) and education, with an emphasis on tech-driven learning for all children. Andela and New Profit are among more than 20 investments in education. CZI has backed Brightwheel, an all-in-one administrative tool for early educators, Camelback Ventures, a nonprofit incubator supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs, and NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy fund that finances and supports education entrepreneurs. In addition to Biohub, CZI has backed Human Cell Atlas and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Using its flexible structure, the initiative acquired research aggregator Meta, an artificial intelligence tool to connect connect research across diseases, pathways and treatments by scanning medical journals. It’s great to see friends and Weekend Briefing readers on this list! Learn more at Axios (7 minutes).

CEO Activism

One group of consumers that is far more likely than others to believe corporate leaders have a responsibility to speak up on societal matters — and it will come as little surprise. It’s millennials. A new report from the global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and KRC Research surveyed Americans on how they feel about “CEO activism”. 56% of millennials said CEOs and other business leaders need to engage on hotly debated current issues more today than in the past, compared with just 36 percent of Gen Xers and 35 percent of baby boomers. 47% of millennials said CEOs have a responsibility to speak up on social issues that are important to society, compared with just 28 percent of Americans in older generations. And millennials were the only generation who view CEOs more favorably for taking public positions actually expanded since last year, rather than declined. Learn more at WaPo (5 minutes).

Africa’s Land Problem

Kenya has a land problem. Africa itself has a land problem. The continent seems so vast and the land so open. The awesome sense of space is an inextricable part of the beauty here — the unadulterated vistas, the endless land. But in a way, that is an illusion. Population swells, climate change, soil degradation, erosion, poaching, global food prices and even the benefits of affluence are exerting incredible pressure on African land. Data from NASA satellites reveals an overwhelming degradation of agricultural land throughout Africa, with one recent study showing that more than 40 million Africans are trying to survive off land whose agricultural potential is declining. At the same time, high birthrates and lengthening life spans mean that by the end of this century, there could be as many as four billion people on the continent, about 10 times the population 40 years ago. It is a two-headed problem, scientists and activists say, and it could be one of the gravest challenges Africa faces: The quality of farmland in many areas is getting worse, and the number of people squeezed onto that land is rising fast. Learn more and see some breath-taking photos at the New York Times (12 minutes).

Hyperloop

Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles company leading the race to fulfill Elon Musk’s dream of tubular transit tested its pod for the first-time last weekend. That pod is 28 feet long and made of aluminum and carbon fiber. It looks a bit like a bus with a beak. A fast bus with a beak. Once loaded into a 1,600-foot-long concrete tube in the Nevada desert, the pod hit 192 mph in about 5 seconds, using an electric propulsion system producing more than 3,000 horsepower. As the pod accelerated through the tube 11 feet in diameter, the 16 wheels retracted as magnetic levitation took over. Mag-lev—used by high-speed trains in Japan and elsewhere—reduces drag and the energy required to achieve near-supersonic speeds. Congrats to Shervin and his team! Watch a video and learn more at Wired (6 minutes).

Steve Jobs Reacts to An Insult

During a Q&A in the 90’s an audience member, in no uncertain terms, says that Jobs doesn’t know what he’s talking about and is lazy to boot! You can see it get’s under his skin, but instead of flying off the handle he: (1) pauses to reset his emotions. Soo hard to do, but soo important. (2) He agrees with his accuser. (3) He helps everyone see the larger picture. (4) He uses vulnerability to his advantage. (5) He praises his people. Watch the video at Inc. (6 minutes).

Honesty

How do CEOs properly message layoffs? CEOs should tell the truth, this seems obvious. How do you the truth without destroying your company? You cannot change the truth but you can assign meaning to it. How do you do that? (1) State the facts clearly and honestly. (2) If you caused it, explain how such a bad thing could occur  –  What was the decision process that you used to expand the company faster than you should have? What did you learn that will prevent it from happening again? (3) Explain why taking the action is essential to the larger mission and how important that mission is — A layoff, if done properly, is a new lease on life for the company and an action that was necessary to fulfill the prime directive and mission that everyone signed up for. As the leader, it’s your job to make sure that the company does not let those people lose their jobs for nothing. Something good needs to come out of it. Learn more at A16Z (8 minutes).

Outdoor Skills

I spent some much-needed time in Yosemite last weekend. I was struck by how much our modern conveniences are changing the way we spend time in the outdoors, especially how attached we are to our smartphones even in the back country. As our recreation habits evolve, we risk losing other skills teetering on the brink of obscurity—like how to navigate sans phone or weather spells of boredom without it. Check out this article that will teach you how to start a fire, use a real camera, make friends with strangers, pitch the perfect campsite, read a map (ya know… the ones on paper), dike a dump anywhere, have good sex in a tent and basically get your shit together. Get schooled at Outside (22 minutes).

From the Community

Tyler Gage just released his book Fully Alive, which tells the story of his immersion in Amazonian spirituality and how he integrated the lessons learned to build a successful, mission driven organization in Runa. Practical tools and lessons are woven throughout the stories of adventure and endless missteps, offering guidance on how to relate to obstacles as teachers and dig deeper to bring greater meaning to our lives.

About the Weekend Briefing

The best articles on innovation, impact, and growth distilled into one email every Saturday morning by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback, insights, tips or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.