Weekend Briefing No. 141

This Week By The Numbers

259.5m hectolitres – It’s a bad year for wine production. Output will reach 259.5m hectolitres this year – a fall of 5% compared to 2015. The drop is due in part to “climatic events” that decimated South American production.

50,000 applicants – When a land-rich family in sparsely populated Cape Breton Canada wanted to attract workers for its understaffed country store, it offered free land to anyone who would come and work for five years. The family expected a few dozen responses; more than 50,000 poured in.

43 years – The Tennessee Valley Authority is celebrating an event 43 years in the making: the completion of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in my hometown of Knoxville, TN.  It’s the first US reactor to enter commercial operation in 20 years.

Open-source Manufacturing

Much like how programmers will freely share code for others to improve upon, Shenzhen manufacturers now see hardware and product design as something that can be borrowed freely and altered. Success in business comes down to speed and execution, not necessarily originality. Nowadays, China’s copycat phenomenon extends well beyond multinational corporations like Gucci or Nokia—startups are affected too. Thanks to the internet, factories and designers looking for the next hit product can easily turn to Kickstarter to see what’s hot and crank out knock offs before the Kickstarter campaign ends. Learn more at Quartz  (8 minutes).

McCarthyism 2.0

There has been quite the controversy in Silicon Valley over contrarian VC Peter Thiel’s continued support of Donald Trump. Specifically, there’s outrage over the fact that YC hasn’t fired him over supporting a major party presidential candidate. This seems… well… crazy to me. In the name of liberalism, which rightly seeks more diversity and inclusion, they shame any political diversity. The means and ends are inconsistent. Do we really want to be a society where our personal political beliefs affect our jobs? We’ve done this before. It’s called Mccarthyism. It’s curiosity and empathy for people different than us that will unite this nation moving forward. That can’t happen if we shame and shun people with different political perspectives than us. Learn more at The Week (6 minutes).


A Silicon Valley dad decided to test his theories about parenting by turning his yard into a playground where children can take physical risks without supervision. Not all his neighbors were thrilled. The problem: boys are being deprived of masculine experience by overprotective moms, who dominate passive dads. The cure: create a space for free play without parents there to protect or mediate confrontations. Learn more in the New York Times (14 minutes).

Who Do You Trust?

Something profound is changing our concept of trust, says Rachel Botsman. While we used to place our trust in institutions like governments and banks, today we increasingly rely on others, often strangers, on platforms like Airbnb and Uber as well as through technologies like the blockchain. This new era of trust could bring with it a more transparent, inclusive, and accountable society — if we get it right. Who do you trust? Watch Rachel’s talk at TED (18 minutes).

Chinese Pork & Blockchain

Chinese agriculture has been notorious for running afoul of food safety mandates. That’s why Walmart is teaming up with IBM to digitally track the movement of pork in China on a blockchain, also known as a distributed ledger. The blockchain is a private database co-developed by IBM. It is designed to provide the retailer with a way to indelibly record a list of transactions indicating how meat has flowed through a commercial network, from producers to processors then to distributors to grocers—and finally, to consumers. Such a system could help prevent disaster scenarios like a fatal nationwide outbreak and establish trust to Chinese pork. Learn more at Fortune (3 minutes).

Upward Spiral

Exercise is known as a keystone habit – a habit, once formed, that creates an upward spiral of other positive behavior in life. Why is this? Well, it seems that exercise is a great way to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you can face hitting the wall at mile 20 in a marathon, suddenly that deadline at work, chores around the house, or challenge in your relationship seems more manageable. I call this the upward spiral. Learn more at New York Magazine (5 minutes).

Great Question

What makes for a great question? 1) Surprise. A great question takes you off guard and makes you think deeper than you normally do. You remember that feeling when you think to yourself, ‘Hmm, I haven’t thought of that.’ or ‘I wasn’t expecting that!’. 2) Depth. Ask about beliefs and emotions, instead of the obvious. Don’t just ask what they do, the why is always a lot more interesting. 3) Challenge. The effectiveness of practically any question is highly dependent on the intensity of thinking it evokes. Learn more from Patrick Obolgogiani (7 minutes).

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. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback 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.