Weekend Briefing No. 238

Welcome to the long weekend! Sorry for the empty email this morning, we had a bit of a technical glitch. Anyhow, there are some good reads here, so I hope you take the time to leisurely read this holiday weekend.

I’m also trying a new section called #clientbrag. I get to work with some pretty amazing people doing great work to create a positive impact. So, like a mom who likes to brag on her kids’ latest achievements, I like to brag on the cool stuff my clients are doing. Hopefully you’ll dig it and be inspired.

Lastly, one of my favorite parts of road trips is jamming out to some good tunes. When I was driving through Iceland ealier this month I put together a playlist inspired by the rugged scenery of that island called Driving in Iceland. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Prime Numbers

2.46 MM – Facebook announced Tuesday that it has set a target of powering its global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. Last year Facebook used 2.46 million megawatts of electricity —an amount that could power more 228,000 average American homes.

2047.47 2047.47 m (1.27 miles): Length of the Guinness World Record longest shish kebab, created in South Africa in 2008

98.6 Forget everything you know about normal body temperature and fever, starting with 98.6. That’s an antiquated number based on a flawed study from 1868. Apparently, the average normal temperature in adults of 97.7 degrees.

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 not 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)

An Elite Charade?

Jay Cohen 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)

#clientbrag

How is it that the internet connects us to a world of people, yet so many of us feel more isolated than ever? That we have hundreds, even thousands of friends on social media, but not a single person to truly confide in? My friend and client Radha Agrawal calls this “community confusion,” and in her book Belong she offers every reader a blueprint to find their people and build and nurture community, because connectedness—as more and more studies show—is our key to happiness, fulfillment, and success. Belong takes readers on a two-part journey. 1) Going IN—a gentle but intentional process of self-discovery and finding out your true energy levels and VIA (values, interests, and abilities). 2) Going OUT—building on all that you’ve learned about yourself to find those few special people who feed your soul, and discovering, or creating, the ever-widening groups that align with your aims and desires. The book launches this week. Amazon (3 hours 27 minutes)

“Meat”

A new Missouri law has got beef with lab-grown ‘meat’. Under Missouri law, food producers are now prohibited from marketing anything that doesn’t come from animal flesh as “meat.” This Great Missouri Meat Mandate is the first law to regulate use of the m-word. Apparently, ranchers are feeling heat from imitation meat brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. As scientists develop new ways to produce food, legacy industries will continue protecting their imperiled products any way they can. The Hustle (3 minutes)

Making Ends Meet

Beginning in early to mid 2019, Y Combinator’s Making Ends Meet program will provide unconditional cash transfers to 3,000 participants in two states. The entire test has a lofty bill of $60 million, with 75 percent going directly to the participants. One thousand people will receive a $1,000-per-month stipend, while a control group of 2,000 people will get a monthly $50. There will be both a three- and a five- year test. Basic income has become Silicon Valley’s favorite answer to the question of how society should deal with jobs being eliminated by automation. It’s even becoming a presidential campaign issue for 2020. Despite the test’s struggles, Y Combinator’s president, Sam Altman, still believes basic income is the solution. Wired (6 minutes)

The New-Fashioned Summer Job

While some teens spent the summer of 2018 babysitting, bagging groceries, or scooping ice cream, thousands of others made hundreds of dollars—and in some cases, much more—the new-fashioned way: by doing sponsored content on Instagram. With “jobs you need to do a lot of training,” says a 13-year-old Pennsylvanian who asked not to be named. “Then you have to, like, physically go out and do the job for hours a day. Doing this, you can make one simple post, which doesn’t take a while. That single post can earn you, like, $50.” Last month, she started posting brand-sponsored Instagrams for her more than 8,000 followers. So far, she says, she’s earned a couple hundred dollars. I hate to be all “kids these days”… but c’mon. Gen Z, be better! Atlantic (7 minutes)

Logging Off

In other Gen Z news… It is widely believed that young people are hopelessly devoted to social media. Teenagers, according to this stereotype, tweet, gram, Snap and scroll. But for every kid who creates sponsored posts as a “summer job”, there are others for whom social media no longer holds such an allure. These teens are turning their backs on the technology – and there are more of them than you might think. This is part of a wider trend. According to a study by US marketing firm, Hill Holliday, of Generation Z – people born after 1995 – half of those surveyed stated they had quit or were considering quitting at least one social media platform. The Guardian (8 minutes)

Weekend Wisdom

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.Immanuel Kant

About the Weekend Briefing

A Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society by Kyle Westaway – Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose.