Weekend Briefing No. 101 | Blake Mycoskie’s Investments, Transitional Philanthropy, Minimum Viable Team, Happiness, Google’s Autonomous Vehicles
Welcome to the weekend. I don’t usually like to talk about myself in the Weekend Briefing, but I’ve been working on some cool stuff I think you might dig… so bear with me.
In January of 2008, I launched my law firm on a shoestring, a dream and a lot of hustle. My dream was to build a law firm focused exclusively on entrepreneurs that are making the world a better place. This month we’re celebrating the 8th anniversary of our law firm. In that time, my audacious dream has become a reality. We’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of social entrepreneurs and are looking forward to serving thousands over the next decades.
But after eight years, it’s time for a refresh. So, today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the new brand. The rebrand is about honoring our past work as well as the work that lies ahead, while articulating our core values: empathy, experience and clarity.
We worked with Brendon Manwaring to redesign our identity, including shortening the name from Westaway Law to just… Westaway (much cleaner). We worked with FiveSTONE to launch our new site westaway.co.
I hope you like it. Shoot me a note to let me know what you think!
What do you do with an extra $200 million? This is a question Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes had to answer. So far, privately and through the Toms Social Entrepreneurship Fund, Mycoskie has made 16 investments, ranging from $25,000 to $1 million, in a diverse and ambitious set of companies. Some are tiny, like ArtLifting, a website that sells artwork created by homeless and disabled people. He’s also supporting the petition site Change.org and Rubicon Global, a data-driven garbage hauler that has been called “Uber for trash.” “The diversity is really appealing to my entrepreneur side,” says Mycoskie, who sees his investments as part of a larger “crusade to prove that business can be a force for good.” Learn more in Fast Company.
Transitional Philanthropy. Scale is the holy grail in social enterprise. As we studied this week in our social entrepreneurship class, there are many models to scale: replication, franchise, and mergers to name a few. But for certain social enterprises that align with government priorities, transitional philanthropy makes sense. Rather than assuming that the social enterprise will replace a government function like providing health and education services, why not assume that the innovation if successful, can be embedded into the larger social system? Once impact is proven on a small scale, the government can adopt the strategy and create impact on a large scale. Learn more at Pulse. Thanks to Jeffery Walker for sharing this with me.
Minimum Viable Team. A small team just big enough to ship and iterate on your minimum viable product can make you smarter and more productive at the earliest phase of a startup because you have: 1) Reduced communication overhead. The cost of communication increases exponentially with the addition of each new team member. 2) Faster decision-making. There are a million decisions to be made at the earliest stages of a startup and the speed of your decision-making can make all the difference. Learn more in this post.
Want to be happier? Spend more time contemplating death. Meditation on death is can be a key to better living. It makes you aware of the transitory nature of your own physical lives and stimulates a realignment between momentary desires and existential goals. In other words, it makes one ask, “Am I making the right use of my scarce and precious life?” If contemplating a corpse is a bit too much, try to live as if 2016 were your last year. Then remorselessly root out activities, small and large, that don’t pass the “last-year test.” Learn more in the New York Times.
Near misses. Google filed a report with the state of California on Tuesday that outlined 272 occurrences during a 14-month period where the software on its vehicles detected a problem that required an immediate handover to the human test driver. Of those, Google analyzed that if a human hadn’t taken over, there likely would have been 13 “contacts” with other vehicles or objects. The report also showed that the number of disengagements declined significantly during the period, going from once every 785 miles in the first quarter of testing to once every 5,318 miles in the most recent. Learn more in the Wall Street Journal.
PODCAST OF THE WEEK
Cathedral. Amy and Ryan Green’s one-year-old son is diagnosed with cancer and begins an agonizing period of treatment. And then, one night in the hospital, Ryan has a strange epiphany: this whole terrible ordeal should be a video game. Keep a box of tissues handy for this episode of Reply All podcast that touches on pain, faith and hope.
THINGS I LIKE
52 Places to Go in 2016. It’s a big world out there, so the New York Times narrowed it down for you. From ancient temples to crystalline waters, here are their top destinations to visit this year.
Personal finance advice… keep it short. Personal finance experts distill down their advice to fit it on a 4×6 index card.
ABOUT THE WEEKEND BRIEFING