Weekend Briefing No. 277

Welcome to the weekend and to the month of June. Here’s my June playlist for your summer enjoyment.

Prime Numbers

960,105 – In 2012, TSA collected $531,000 in loose change collected in airport security checks. In 2016 it jumped up to $867, 812. By 2018, it reached $960,105.

12 – Rural Americans have made gains in adopting digital technology. Rural Americans are now 12% less likely than Americans overall to have home broadband; in 2007, the gap was 16%.

9 – The UK has now gone 9 days straight without burning a single lump of coal.

Nurturer Mindset

We are desperately in need of a new mindset that builds an economic system centered on creating a shared and durable prosperity for all, not on maximizing shareholder value for a few. As is often the case, what we are looking for is hidden in plain sight: It’s evident in a group of people who aren’t among the typical business leaders emulated for their innovations and best practices – farmers. The farmer’s mindset is in direct contrast to the exploiter mindset. Farmers bring a “duty of care” that is outside the legal conception of that phrase. Farmers embody an ethical custom that expands their duty of care to include care for the land, care for the people who work on it, care for the people who are nourished by it, care for the communities that are needed to tend to it, and care for the next generations that will need to be nourished by it. This is the nurturer mindset. Forbes (7 minutes)

EternalBlue

For nearly three weeks, Baltimore has struggled with a cyberattack by digital extortionists that has frozen thousands of computers, shut down email and disrupted real estate sales, water bills, health alerts and many other services. But here is what frustrated city employees and residents do not know: A key component of the malware that cybercriminals used in the attack was developed at taxpayer expense a short drive down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the National Security Agency, according to security experts briefed on the case. Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyber weapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard. New York Times (10 minutes)

Benefit Game

There are dozens of ways to identify your company’s purpose. One way is to play the benefit game. First, you write down what your company does and ask yourself what’s the benefit of that. You write down your answer and then ask what’s the benefit of that. You continue this pattern as many times as you can. Here’s an example of how the benefit game would play out with an electric car dealership. Proposed purpose: We sell electric vehicles. What’s the benefit of that? We help people drive in an environmentally-friendly way. What’s the benefit of that? It reduces pollution caused by driving. What’s the benefit of that? It reduces human-contribution to climate change. What’s the benefit of that? It reduces harm to life on Earth. Purpose: Provide a life-sustaining method of travel. What Matters (6 minutes)

Environmental Crime

In five years of intensive whaling (1955-1960) the populations of humpback whales off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand were reduced to almost zero. It was one of the fastest decimations of an animal population in world history—and it had happened almost entirely in secret. By the time a ban on commercial whaling went into effect, in 1986, the Soviets had reported killing a total of 2,710 humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the country’s fleets had killed nearly 18 times that many, along with thousands of unreported whales of other species. It had been an elaborate and audacious deception: Soviet captains had disguised ships, tampered with scientific data, and misled international authorities for decades. In the estimation of the marine biologists it was arguably one of the greatest environmental crimes of the 20th century. Pacific Standard (14 minutes)

Hobbies into Hustles

We live in the era of the hustle. Of following our dreams until the end, and then pushing ourselves more. And every time we feel beholden to capitalize on the rare places where our skills and our joy intersect, we underline the idea that financial gain is the ultimate pursuit. If we’re good at it, we should sell it. If we’re good at it and we love it, we should definitely sell it. We don’t have to monetize or optimize or organize our joy. Hobbies don’t have to be imbued with a purpose beyond our own enjoyment of them. They, alone, can be enough. Manrepeller (7 minutes)

Creating a Career

How do you move from a job to a career? 1) Analyze your strengths. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. 2) Find an industry that fits your strengths. So what should you do if you love something but suck at it? My opinion is to not pursue a career in that field. Treat it like a hobby instead. A lot of people love to make music, but they are not good enough to earn a living. 3) Improve your universal skills like writing, leadership, personal effectiveness, and persuasion. 4) Start at the bottom. 5) Continually improve. Darius Foroux (6 minutes)

Marriage & Spreadsheets

We tend to think that good marriages and happy families are born of love and care, not spreadsheets. But what if that’s wrong? One family applied the Japanese notion of “kaizen,” or continuous improvement, made famous by Toyota. When they translated the idea to their home life, the goal was simple but complicated — happiness. They weren’t sure what drove it, so they decided to collect data on everything: how many hours of sleep were sleeping a night, how much time spent on housework or child care, the amount of alone time, social time, commuting time, you name it. They assigned a score from one to 10 to each day, and then gave a primary reason for each score: not enough sleep, work sucked and, sometimes, “relationship bad feeling.” Soon enough, they began to spot patterns: It turns out that the minimum number of hours the wife can sleep without wanting to run away from the family is five and a half. Less than an hour a week of personal time also sent her to a dark place. The husband found that his happiness rose and fell with hours spent hanging out with friends or sitting in traffic. Before the spreadsheet, the idea that: Marriage and family should more or less work. If you’re with the “right” person and you’ve made the “right” choices, your family life shouldn’t require a lot of discussion or effort. Your spouse should know that you need alone time and should give it to you. The appointments you keep in your head, the family social schedule you juggle — all of it should be noticed and appreciated. Good marriages and happy families are born of love and care, not spreadsheets and a daily happiness score. But in the years since, she’s reconsidered. Far from making their marriage seem cold and robotic, the spreadsheet sparked more honest conversations than they’ve had in years. It also reminded them that they had more control over their lives than they had been exerting. New York Times (9 minutes)

Bookshelf

Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson. From the author of the international mega-bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck comes a counterintuitive guide to the problems of hope. We live in an interesting time. Materially, everything is the best it’s ever been—we are freer, healthier and wealthier than any people in human history. Yet, somehow everything seems to be irreparably and horribly f*cked—the planet is warming, governments are failing, economies are collapsing, and everyone is perpetually offended on Twitter. At this moment in history, when we have access to technology, education and communication our ancestors couldn’t even dream of, so many of us come back to an overriding feeling of hopelessness. Manson turns his gaze from the inevitable flaws within each individual self to the endless calamities taking place in the world around us. Drawing from the pool of psychological research on these topics, as well as the timeless wisdom of philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, he dissects religion and politics and the uncomfortable ways they have come to resemble one another. He looks at our relationships with money, entertainment and the internet, and how too much of a good thing can psychologically eat us alive. He openly defies our definitions of faith, happiness, freedom—and even of hope itself. Amazon

About the Weekend Briefing

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

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Weekend Wisdom

We live in a highly polarized society. We need to try to understand each other in respectful ways. To that end, I believe that we should make room for both spiritual atheists and thinking believers.Alan Lightman