Weekend Briefing No. 144

This has been an intense week. Some of you are excited about the outcome of the election and some of you are depressed and angry. That’s ok.

The downside of an election cycle is that it pushes us into our rhetorical corners. It accelerates the need to be identified with a particular tribe and to demonize people that aren’t in our tribe. This leads us to seek simple answers and reject any information that disagrees with our tribe’s simple answers.

We’ve lost the ability to listen.

The real world isn’t simple. It’s complex. If we hope to forge a better future, we must listen to people who aren’t in our tribe; to see things from their perspective. It’s tough work primarily because we tie so much of our personal identity to our tribe. Humility, curiosity and empathy must be our guides on this journey. Check out this music video See The Love from my friends The Brilliance. It gave me hope. I hope it does for you as well.

This Week By The Numbers

49: Mauritius’s ranking in this year’s World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. It’s the top country in Africa. It takes 156 days to complete the construction permitting processes for simple buildings, compared to 183 days in France and 222 days in Austria. So if you’re looking for a place to resettle your business after this election… I’m just sayin’.

2.56: The number of doctors per 1,000 people in the US. We have a shortage of doctors. Though we have more than Canada (2.46), Poland (2.24), South Korea and Mexico (both 2.17), we’re way behind countries like Austria (4.99), Norway (4.31), Sweden (4.12), Germany and Switzerland (both 4.04).

0.637:The number of seconds it took a robot to solve a Rubik’s Cube. That’s about 10 times faster than the human record holder.

Missionaries > Mercenaries

Silicon Valley legend John Doerr noted that the best companies are led by missionaries, not mercenaries. Mercenaries are driven by paranoia; missionaries are driven by passion. Mercenaries think opportunistically; missionaries think strategically. Mercenaries go for the sprint; missionaries go for the marathon. Mercenaries focus on their competitors and financial statements; missionaries focus on their customers and value statements. Mercenaries worry about entitlements; missionaries are obsessed with making a contribution. Mercenaries are motivated by the lust for making money; missionaries, while recognizing the importance of money, are fundamentally driven by the desire to make meaning. Learn more at 25iq (11 minutes).

Access > Ownership

Let’s say you could just snap your fingers and have something magically appear in your hand whenever you wanted it at minimal cost. You have a hammer in your home and you probably use it an hour a year. If that hammer was sitting in some central location, it could be shared by thousands of people, really safely, making everybody wealthier functionally because they would get the hammer when they need it without having to pay for the hammer. This is a very likely future if the drone revolution comes to fruition, we’ll continue to move from an ownership to an access economy. Watch a video and read the interview with Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google X on the Verge (7 minutes).

Informed > Opinionated

While we all hold an opinion on almost everything, how many of us do the work required to have an opinion? Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway never allows himself to have an opinion on anything that he doesn’t know the other side’s argument better than they do. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. Doing this means becoming your most intelligent critic, which requires the intellectual honesty to kill some of your best loved ideas. Learn more at Farnam Street (3 minutes).

High Expectations

The first and most crucial step to successful positioning of your startup is to define your ideal user— the “high-expectation customer”, or HXC. The HXC is the most discerning person within your target demographic. It’s someone who will acknowledge—and enjoy—your product or service for its greatest benefit. That discernment is key, because this customer is also someone who can help your startup spread the word. The HXC is the epicenter of virality. Check out this article from the person who developed the brands for YouTube, Airbnb and Dropbox to learn the tactics of the HXC at First Round Review (16 minutes).

Poo Poo Power

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed an efficient way to turn poop into crude oil. Here’s how it works: inside the tube, the pungent mixture is heated to about 650 degrees Fahrenheit and squeezed at pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch. What comes out is a watery liquid and the bio crude that’s apparently close enough to petroleum to be refined the same way. A single American’s daily “output” can generate enough electricity to light a 60-watt bulb for more than 9 hours. Learn more at the Verge (4 minutes).

Chain-Smoking Robot

Researchers have built a chain-smoking robot (it looks like a Gatling gun of cigarettes), it passes the smoke into what’s known as a lung on a chip, which mimics a human airway. This transparent chip contains a channel of living lung cells. By loading up one chip with lung cells from a patient with pulmonary disease and another chip with cells from a healthy patient, researchers can observe how the two react differently to smoke. Learn more at Wired (3 minutes).

We Want Prenup

Prenups used to be for old money, but now prenups do different things, like safeguarding intellectual property including films, songs, screenplays, software, apps, and even ideas for technology concepts yet to be executed. The number of millennials seeking prenups is on the rise nationwide, and as women are increasingly taking the role of primary breadwinner, they are driving the push for prenuptial agreements. Learn more at Bloomberg (3 minutes).

About the Weekend Briefing

The best articles on innovation, impact, and growth distilled into one email every Saturday morning by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your weekend routine. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.