Weekend Briefing No. 302

Welcome to the Weekend. 

Prime Numbers

50 – The 50 best non-fiction books of the last 25 years

40 – One Stanford researcher thinks we shouldn’t start working until we’re 40

15 – Scientists from the University of Arizona say they have now found the “Goldilocks zone” for the right amount of failure – with their data suggesting people who fail 15 percent of the time learn the fastest

Mindset Inequality

Paul Graham once said: “you don’t have to grow up rich or even upper middle class to get rich as a startup founder, but few successful founders grew up desperately poor.” Why is that? One founder who did postulates that growing poor molds a mindset not conducive to launching a startup. He notes: (1) He minimizes conflict because fucking up is costly and opportunities are hard to come by, so it’s been a challenge putting my ideas out there and defending them. (2) He didn’t know how to manage resources. Being poor makes you suck at using money as a resource. His time was always cheaper growing up, so he’d rather spend time than spend money. A simple decision to hire, for example, took a very long time to the point that it cost his company growth. (3) He doesn’t have built-in resources – no “friends and family” money to give an idea a shot. In fact, he’s sending money to his dad every month from the measly income he takes out of his startup. Ricky Yean (10 minutes)

Sustainable Tsunami

Recent data released by Morningstar showing that sustainable funds are taking in more cash. Net flows into sustainable funds this year are on track to triple their 2018 total, driven by ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors as well as the desire to make a social impact, according to Morningstar. A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report predicted a “tsunami” of capital flowing to “good” stocks, fueled by high levels of interest among women, millennials, and wealthy individuals. BofA Merrill Lynch predicts that over the next two decades, $20 trillion in assets will flow into sustainable funds and strategies, nearly equaling the market value of the S&P 500 today (some $24.7 trillion). Barron’s (5 minutes)

Facial (Un)Recognition 

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation in the US Senate that would force law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using facial recognition software to track American citizens.The bill comes as the first concrete proposal to limit law enforcement’s use of the controversial tech, which has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns among both Democrats and Republicans in recent months. The Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act would require law enforcement agencies to prove probable cause and obtain a warrant before using facial recognition systems to surveil suspects, mirroring the legal procedures used to authorize other intrusive activities like cell phone searches, wiretaps and geotracking. The rule would apply to any surveillance activities lasting more than 72 hours, though it includes exemptions for particularly urgent cases. NextGov (8 minutes)

Bee Ball

Bees quickly master an insect version of football just by watching another bee handle the ball. Bumblebees watch a fellow bee tugging a ball into a goal, which earns the athlete a gulp of sugar water. The observing bees could soon do the task themselves. They even figured out how to nab the reward with less effort. They’re not just blindly copying. They’re doing something better. Previous research has shown that insects are capable of advanced cognitive tasks. But this is the first time that insects have shown they can become adept at actions far removed from the job of being a bee. The fact the creatures learned a complex skill by watching their fellow bees rather than by undergoing long, incremental training was also another first. Nature (6 minutes)

White-Collar AI

White-collar jobs (better-paid professionals with bachelor’s degrees) along with production workers may be most susceptible to AI’s spread into the economy. AI could affect work in virtually every occupational group. However, whereas research on automation’s robotics and software continues to show that less-educated, lower-wage workers may be most exposed to displacement, the present analysis suggests that better-educated, better-paid workers (along with manufacturing and production workers) will be the most affected by the new AI technologies, with some exceptions. A new study shows that workers with graduate or professional degrees will be almost four times as exposed to AI as workers with just a high school degree. Holders of bachelor’s degrees will be the most exposed by education level, more than five times as exposed to AI than workers with just a high school degree. Brookings (11 minutes)


Tesla announced a pickup truck this week. It looks like it would fit in very well in a post apocalyptic cityscape.  Cybertruck is built with an exterior shell made for ultimate durability and passenger protection. Starting with a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton, every component is designed for superior strength and endurance, from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin to Tesla armor glass. It goes from 0-60 mph in as little as 2.9 seconds and up to 500 miles of range. YouTube (5 minutes)

Romantic Competence

There are three core skills behind romantic competence: (1) Insight – taking the time to actually know yourself and your partner in the moment.  (2) Mutuality – is about ensuring your partner’s needs are addressed and factoring both partner’s needs into decision-making. (3) Emotion Regulation – developing the ability to manage those moments when you might act hurtfully due to the height of your emotion. TED (6 minutes)


Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen. 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 Matt Hardy.

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Weekend Wisdom

Perseverance is not a long race it is many short races one after the other. – Walter Elliot