Weekend Briefing No. 313

Welcome to the weekend.

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Prime Numbers

54 Tesla stock surged 54% — and it’s added $56B to its value in the last week. 

17 17 designs that Bell almost used for the layout of the telephone keypad.

9.1 Applications to MBA programs in the U.S. were down 9.1 percent over the course of the 2019-20 academic year.

Risk

Focusing on sustainability helps investors navigate the risks that transcend personal, political or social views to target long-term value. Larry Fink’s call to make sustainability a new standard for investing misses the point of what an investment manager’s core job is. Yes, the main objective is to generate a return on invested assets, but to meet this objective an investment manager must identify, evaluate and manage risk. Long-term investors have to look ahead to the risks that might impact the value of their investments over very long time horizons. Their focus on sustainability, therefore, is a value-driven imperative, not a values-driven agenda. This includes the concern, based on risk analysis, that climate risk may be at an inflection point. Does anyone know with certainty or precision what the scope and pace of climate change might mean for long-term investments? No. And because the range of risk outcomes multiplies over time, long-term investors must demand that the companies in which they invest evaluate and report on the risks that impact their value in both the short and long term. Focusing on sustainability helps investors navigate the risks that transcend personal, political or social views to target long-term value. That is the essence of fiduciary responsibility. Wall Street Journal (3 minutes)

Brand Purpose

Unilever is doubling down on its investment in brand purpose, saying it is important for both the short- and long-term growth of its brands that “stand for more”. The investment in brand purpose comes alongside work Unilever has done to measure how brand purpose is perceived by the consumer and whether people truly understand this at the point of purchase. “We are investing more of our marketing spend on communications that are explicitly purposeful as we have extremely strong data on the link between both purposeful communication and short- and long-term growth,” says Unilever CEO. Marketing Week (6 minutes)

Wealth & Race

Beyond the overall growth in top-line numbers, however, the growth in household wealth (defined as net worth—the net value of each family’s liquid and illiquid assets and debts) has not been inclusive. In wealth, black individuals, families, and communities tend to lag behind their white counterparts. Indeed, the median white family had more than ten times the wealth of the median black family in 2016. In fact, the racial wealth gap between black and white families grew from about $100,000 in 1992 to $154,000 in 2016, in part because white families gained significantly more wealth (with the median increasing by $54,000), while median wealth for black families did not grow at all in real terms over that period. The widening racial wealth gap disadvantages black families, individuals, and communities and limits black citizens’ economic power and prospects, and the effects are cyclical. Such a gap contributes to intergenerational economic precariousness: almost 70 percent of middle-class black children are likely to fall out of the middle class as adults. Other than its obvious negative impact on human development for black individuals and communities, the racial wealth gap also constrains the US economy as a whole. It is estimated that its dampening effect on consumption and investment will cost the US economy between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion between 2019 and 2028—4 to 6 percent of the projected GDP in 2028. McKinsey (18 minutes)

On Listening

How can we reclaim the lost art of listening? Listening goes beyond simply hearing what people say. It also involves paying attention to how they say it and what they do while they are saying it, in what context, and how what they say resonates within you. It’s not about merely holding your peace while someone else holds forth. Quite the opposite. A lot of listening has to do with how you respond — the degree to which you facilitate the clear expression of another person’s thoughts and, in the process, crystallize your own. New York Times (11 minutes)

Runway

At a startup, life and death is dictated by how long your cash runway is. The quicker you burn cash the less likely you are to take off. So, what cities give you the most runway in the US? The least expensive cities to launch a startup in are: (1) Denver, (2) Phoenix, (3) Tampa, (4) Salt Lake City, (5) Louisville.  Embroker (11 minutes)

Control

Facebook / Instagram has begun to give users some measure of control over ad settings. You can now switch Ads based on data from other partners – meaning data about websites you have visited or purchases you have made on your credit card – to Not allowed. You can switch Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere, which I don’t understand, to Not allowed. You can switch Ads that include your social actions, meaning ads telling friends I liked certain products, to be shown to No One. This may clean up your feed a bit. Good luck. The Guardian (16 minutes)

Making Friends

David Rockefeller, practiced the habit of building strong relationships for much of his life. After Rockefeller passed away earlier this year, one business professional who knew him wrote he “delighted and disarmed” by focusing on relationships, not networking. “If you were so fortunate to be a fly on the wall for any of his countless meetings and interactions, you would hear him inquire about the smallest details of his guest’s life, from a child’s ballet recital to a parent’s recent health concern. Rockefeller’s interactions were said to be “transformational, never transactional.” But he also gave himself an advantage by creating an analogue CRM. His custom-designed Rolodex stood 5-feet high. It contained contact information for 100,000 people. Forbes (5 minutes)

Bookshelf

Ultralearning by Scott Young. In these tumultuous times of economic and technological change, staying ahead depends on continual self-education—a lifelong mastery of fresh ideas, subjects, and skills. If you want to accomplish more and stand apart from everyone else, you need to become an ultralearner. Scott H. Young incorporates the latest research about the most effective learning methods and the stories of other ultralearners like himself—among them Benjamin Franklin, chess grandmaster Judit Polgár, and Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman, as well as a host of others, such as little-known modern polymath Nigel Richards, who won the French World Scrabble Championship—without knowing French. Ultralearning explores this fascinating subculture, shares a proven framework for a successful ultralearning project, and offers insights into how you can organize and exe – cute a plan to learn anything deeply and quickly, without teachers or budget-busting tuition costs. 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 Brent Cox.

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Weekend Wisdom

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.  –Henri Nouwen

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