Weekend Briefing No. 119

Welcome to the Weekend

I usually don’t like to spend too much time talking about myself, but I’ve been involved with some great stuff this week.

Right now… I’m a little tired. This morning I just ran the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. Check out my pictures from the race on Instagram @kylewestaway.

On Thursday, COMMON just launched a community program for accelerating social enterprises that doesn’t require giving up equity, or giving up your life for three months. It’s pretty rad. My law firm is proud to be a partner on this.

Friday I had the pleasure of participating in the 2nd annual Legal Issues in Impact Investing at Reed Smith. It was cool to see the size of the conference double from last year. I’m so encouraged by fellow lawyers’ increased interest in the sector.

Digital Esquire

Other than the Blackberries and computers, law firms look the same as they did in the 1800’s. There’s been little to no innovation in my profession. That’s about to change. Over the next 2 decades artificial intelligence will change the business of law. This week is a milestone on that journey. Century-old law firm BakerHostetler has formally hired its first “digital attorney,” ROSS, as an artificially intelligent legal researcher. Built on IBM’s Watson computer, ROSS responds to questions by analyzing billions of documents to come up with a precise answer. Read more in Quartz (2 minutes).

Impact Investing in 2015

Somewhere between pure profit and pure charity is a small but growing movement of investors who seek financial, environmental, and social returns of their investments all at once. They are called impact investors, and their ranks are continuing to grow. The latest annual survey from the Global Impact Investor Network (GIIN) shows this strength. There are now at least $77 billion assets under management that qualify as impact investments, and a total of $15 billion committed in more than 7,500 deals in 2015 alone. Learn more at Fast Company (3 minutes).

The Timeline of Self-Driving Cars

Two terms for the transition have become standard in the auto industry. There’s the “evolutionary” path to autonomous vehicles, where today’s cars get self-driving features bit by bit — Tesla’s autopilot feature, for example. And then there’s the “revolutionary” path. That’s where totally self-driving cars, like the ones Google is working on, start as test vehicles and become more mainstream as they can drive in more places. There’s an ongoing debate over which path is the safer one. These paths will eventually converge in 2030. See both timelines at recode (8 minutes).

The Future of Work

Recently PwC released a report on the future of work which details three separate scenarios for the future of work. 1) In the blue world corporate is king. Big company capitalism rules and the primary goal and purpose of a business is to focus on profits and growth. 2) In the green world companies care. Both employees and customers force change. Companies are very focused on well-being and positive social and environmental impact. 3) In the Orange world small is beautiful. Big is bad for business and the driving goal is maximizing flexibility while reducing costs. Smaller more nimble and agile organizations reign supreme. Learn more in Forbes (4 minutes).

Managing the Hunt For Bin Laden

The former head of the CIA notes that the hunt for Bin Laden from 2009–2010 yielded many lessons about managing a large, complex organization that is focused on varied missions under intense pressure.  1) They had to question working hypothesis. Believing that Bin Laden was in that suburban villa required us to shed our most basic assumptions about how he would operate. 2) Surprisingly, even at the CIA, they needed to address a problem that plagues so many managers: the tyranny of the inbox, where the urgent replaces the important. Finding Bin Laden was a classic case of an important, but not always urgent, mission. Learn more in Harvard Business Review (10 minutes).


A 1:59:59 marathon would require a searing pace of 4 minutes 34 seconds per mile, seven seconds faster than the pace of the current world record. Yannis Pitsiladis, a renowned sports scientist, has a passion bordering on obsession to break the 2-hour marathon by 2020. His quest has led him to Ethiopia, Kenya and the Dead Sea. He has assembled an international team of scientist and is willing to beg (at one point, his genetics research was sponsored by an Indian restaurant in Glasgow) and borrow (refinancing his home) to fund his research. Learn more in the two-part series from the New York Times: Part 1, Part 2 (46 minutes).

Life According To Sticky Notes

Adult life can get complicated. There’s a lot of pressure: work, money, friends, family, health… sometimes you think to yourself, “is it just me?” No! We’re all in this together and artist and writer Chaz Hutton perfectly captures what many of us can relate to in funny sticky note illustrations, graphs and charts. Check out these sometimes sad but mostly true sticky note illustrations at Twisted Sifter (3 minutes). H/t Michael Karnjanaprakorn.

About The Weekend Briefing

The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.