Weekend Briefing No. 321

Welcome to the weekend. I hope you’re in good health and staying safe. I also hope that these briefings are contributing some value — helping you make sense of the chaos or sparking new curiosity. If the briefing is valuable to you, please take a moment to forward it to a few friends that might also dig it. I especially encourage sharing this briefing because the top story is a 40-page guide for entrepreneurs (and individuals) trying to understand the $2 trillion stimulus package. I’ve put a lot of work into the guide and think it can be tremendously helpful. I’m giving it away for free to help as many people as possible. Thanks in advance for sharing. If you’re reading this because your brilliant friend already forwarded it to you, feel free to subscribe here.

On a completely unrelated note, my April playlist should bring good vibes to you during lockdown.

Lastly, we’ve had a blast on the Bourbon & Briefing happy hour Zoom calls for the last two weekends, so we’re going to keep this going as long as we’re quarantined. There were some issues last week, so if you’re interested in this Saturday Zoom happy hour, click here. I’m going to send you a recurring calendar invite with the link. This should solve the problem of being denied access to the Zoom room.

Prime Numbers

75—Roughly 75 percent of Americans are, or will soon be, under instructions to stay indoors.

8.7—At Costco, traffic fell 8.7 percent year-over-year for the third week of March. The second week of March, traffic jumped 34.7 percent.

-100—OpenTable released data on year-over-year seated diners at restaurants compared to this time last year. We’ve essentially gone to a -100 percent growth rate year over year. It’s spooky to see an entire industry flat line.

Entrepreneur’s COVID-19 Playbook

COVID-19 has left many of us reeling. We are all concerned for the health and safety of our friends and family. But we entrepreneurs have the added responsibility of taking care of our team and keeping our business alive. Last week, the 880-page $2 trillion stimulus package was signed into law. I was skeptical and curious about whether there was anything in here for entrepreneurs running for profit and nonprofit organizations. After about 40 hours of research and analysis, it turns out that there is! So, I created a 40-page free guide to stimulus money, tax breaks and legal tips to help you survive and thrive during the pandemic. I was so psyched to work on this with Danelle Jenetayeva, who contributed the tax guidance and Vik Harrison who designed the document. This guide will help you make smart moves now so your business can survive this crisis and emerge stronger. It covers: (1) How to tap into the $2 trillion stimulus CARES Act. Forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program keep your team on the payroll in the next two months. Emergency grants and loans from the Economic Injury Disaster Program fund operations. (2) How to access new tax breaks. Personal — There is financial assistance for student loan payment suspension, retirement account withdrawals and expanded unemployment benefits. Business —Employee retention tax credits, deferment of payroll tax and employee education assistance may help your small business. (3) How to rethink your legal strategy. There is expansion of required paid sick leave for your employees under the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act. View force majeure and the doctrine of impracticability language in your contracts. I hope you find it helpful. Please dig into it and share it with anybody you think it might help. Westaway (80 minutes)

Designing for Uncertainty

So, how does an existing organization manage to see through the fog of uncertainty while also planning for an unknown future? My friend Jason Locy thinks there are four key activities every organization should be doing right now: (1) Conserve: Keep only what you need in order to survive. (2) Adapt: Explore ways to sustain your organization in the current situation. (3) Innovate: Design new products, services and offerings for existing and new customers. (4) Shift: Change internal cultures, brand perceptions and a narrative to reflect the new reality. FiveSTONE (12 minutes)

Bill Gates on Coronavirus

Philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates offers insights into the COVID-19 pandemic, discussing why testing and self-isolation are essential, which medical advancements show promise, and what it will take for the world to endure this crisis. This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. TED (51 minutes)


In just one week, a team at Oxford University and King’s College London have built a simple ventilator that could potentially save thousands of lives as part of the U.K. and the world’s fight against coronavirus. The OxVent is a rapid prototype ventilator that could keep people breathe while they battle the worst impacts of COVID-19. Andrew Farmery of the University of Oxford, one of the people involved in its development, talks about its past, present and potential. The Face (11 minutes)

Doomsday Business Boom

In recent weeks, doomsday businesses have been flooded with phone calls, emails, and bulk orders — not from survivalists, but soccer moms, professors and orthodontists. “Prepper” might conjure up an image of a militant, off-the-grid conspiracy theorist. But the bulk of today’s crop are normies — dentists in Nebraska, oil rig workers in Texas, techies in California — who share a distrust in the system and an individualistic outlook. They congregate in forums and private Facebook groups to discuss things like homemade lamp oil, the shelf life of canned sardines, and the optimal moment to “bug out” (evacuate). They use acronyms like TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) and read blogs like “Doom And Bloom” and “Mom With a Prep.” As one prepper told the AP, “The vast majority of this is ‘beans and Band-Aids,’ not ‘bullets and bunkers.’”According to one survey, 43 percent of preppers earn $100K or more per year, and 67 percent are homeowners. Doomsday stockpiling, it turns out, often calls for disposable income. The Hustle (14 minutes)


Preserving optionality means paying attention and looking at life from multiple perspectives. It means building a versatile base of foundational knowledge and allowing for serendipity and unexpected connections. We must seek to expand our comfort zone and circle of competence, and we should take minor risks that have potentially large upsides and limited downsides. Paradoxically, preserving optionality can mean saying no to a lot of opportunities and avoiding anything that will prove to be restrictive. We need to look at choices through the lens of the optionality they will give us in the future and only say yes to those that create more options. Preserving your optionality is important because it gives you the flexibility to capitalize on inevitable change. In order to keep your options open, you need diversity. Diversity of perspective, thought, knowledge and skills. You don’t want to find yourself in a position of only being able to sell something that no one wants. Rapid, extraordinary change is the norm. In order to adapt in a way that is useful, keep your options open. Farnam Street (14 minutes)

Shut-in Economy

All of this social distancing is making me think about an article on the shut-in economy from a few years back. It’s more relevant than ever today. The on-demand world isn’t about sharing at all. It’s about being served. This is an economy of shut-ins. In 1998, Carnegie Mellon researchers warned that the internet could make us into hermits. They released a study monitoring the social behavior of 169 people making their first forays online. The web-surfers started talking less with family and friends, and grew more isolated and depressed. “We were surprised to find that what is a social technology has such anti-social consequences,” said one of the researchers at the time. “And these are the same people who, when asked, describe the Internet as a positive thing. ”As income inequality increases, the shut-in model is tailor-made for the new polarized extremes. Maybe you’re the person behind the door and receiving your dinner in the tower. Or, you’re like the food delivery guy who told a concierge, “This is my dream place to live.” He’s the opposite of a shut-in. He’s stuck outside, hustling. Matter (13 minutes)


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I’ve never read Les Misérables and feel like the lockdown is the perfect time to give it a shot. Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroismand love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him, and has been a perennial favorite since it first appeared over 150 years ago. This exciting new translation with Jillian Tamaki’s brilliant cover art will be a gift both to readers who have already fallen for its timeless story and to new readers discovering it for the first time. Amazon

Most Read Last Week

Nonprofit Survival Guide — Nonprofit strategy for this unprecedented moment.

Emergency Funding For Entrepreneurs — Search for grants, loans and other cash equivalents that can help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and businesses anywhere in the world. 

Polymath — Make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty good” skills until no one else has your mix.

About the Weekend Briefing

This is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway – Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Taylor Simpson.

Should We Work Together?

This newsletter is my passion project. I hope it helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to create meaningful impact in the world. Many readers have asked about how we can work together. I run a law firm for startups. We try to keep things simple by offering transparent flat fees. We structure our engagements in two ways: (1) Per-Project flat fee engagements. No billable hour means no surprise legal bills. (2) General Counsel — A simple monthly fee for all your day-to-day legal needs. It’s like getting a subscription to your own general counsel. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.  

Weekend Wisdom

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.Henry Ford

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