Weekend Briefing No. 156

Welcome to the weekend! This is a special issue of the Weekend Briefing because we’re celebrating our third anniversary!

There are some of you that have been subscribers since the first Weekend Briefing, which looked very different (makes me cringe a little looking back at it…. But we all gotta start somewhere.) Thank you so much for being a part of the community. I’m so grateful for your encouragement and support. I truly consider it an honor to be part of your Saturday morning.

To celebrate 3 years, today I’m launching a second email titled Impact Esq.

It’s a monthly email designed specifically for lawyers interested in social enterprise and impact investing. This new email is not for everyone, but if you’re interested in geeking out about how the legal profession can create a positive social / environmental impact, sign up here.


This Week By The Numbers

420 million mph – If the car from 1971 had improved at the same rate as computer chips, then by 2015, new models would have had top speeds of about 420 million miles per hour. That is roughly two-thirds the speed of light or fast enough to drive around the world in less than a fifth of a second.

1,000% –The increase in tunneling speed Elon Musk thinks he can achieve. We’re just going to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by, I think, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent,” the serial entrepreneur said. “We have no idea what we’re doing — I want to be clear about that.”

52 years 39 days – After experiencing chest pain while out on a run Saturday, England’s Ron Hill decided to take a day off from running on Sunday. That may seem like a logical choice to most, but it certainly was not an insignificant one. The decision, by the champion of the 1970 Boston Marathon, ended the longest recorded streak of running every day at 52 years and 39 days, or 19,033 days.

Design With Humility

Good design starts not with doing, but with listening. The act of Listening assumes that the user knows better than the designer. Every social entrepreneur encounters unexpected setbacks, has to scramble to make improvements, or substantially pivots away from original plans. What’s vital, is that you approach the process with a good dose of humility, not believing you’ve got answers, but rather that you’re testing hypotheses. You can move forward according to these three steps: 1) Listen, 2) Build, 3) Iterate. In this article, we’ll go on the journey of discovery with the founders of Embrace as they worked to develop their baby warmer. We’ll see how user feedback and pivoting were vital to their successful product development and entry into the difficult market in India. Read the whole story at Westaway Review (15 minutes). As a special 3rd anniversary treat, click here to download the entire 2nd chapter of my book Profit & Purpose entitled Design With Humility.

IS in the Dock

They make an unusual team. Amal Clooney is an Oxford-educated human-rights lawyer married to a film star. Nadia Murad was born in a poor Iraqi village, once aspired to become a teacher and a former IS sex slave. Yet among her people, the Yazidis, Murad is better known and more admired than any other woman on Earth. Murad is a symbol of survival for a minority threatened with extermination. The two women are working to bring the leaders of IS before an international court for inflicting genocide on the Yazidis. The story of their campaign is an extraordinary one: a tale of pious savagery pitted against truth, law, and the soft power of celebrity. Learn more at 1843 (11 minutes).


Uber ended up directly in the crosshairs of liberal righteous anger during last Saturday’s protests of the Trump’s executive order at JFK. So what did Uber do exactly? Something about Trump, something about strike-breaking… either way, something about which you should be very, very upset. After the taxi workers’ strike began and AirTrain service for non-ticketed passengers (i.e., protestors) was suspended, Uber was, operationally speaking, in a bind. If the company allowed prices to increase due to congestion, riders would have been furious and accused Uber of gouging during a civil protest. If Uber suspended service at JFK entirely—in solidarity with the taxi strike—protestors and people trying to get to their flights would largely be stranded. So Uber did what was logically best: It turned off surge, ensuring that those who needed a ride could get one without paying extra, but didn’t force or even encourage drivers to keep working. The #deleteuber movement seems to have been angry groupthink misdirected. Apparently last weekend was enough outrage (misdirected or otherwise) to cause Uber CEO to leave Trump’s advisory council. Learn more at Quartz (5 minutes).

Building a Chimera

In a remarkable—if likely controversial—feat, scientists announced this week that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids. This biomedical advance has long been a dream and a quandary for scientists hoping to address a critical shortage of donor organs. What if, rather than relying on a generous donor, you could grow a custom organ inside an animal instead? That’s now one step closer to reality for a team of international scientists. The team created what’s known scientifically as a chimera: an organism that contains cells from two different species. Learn more and see a video of a pig lungs filtering human blood at National Geographic (7 minutes).

Systems > Goals

We’re actually much more likely to succeed in changing our habits when we use systems instead of goals. After all, goals tend to be somewhat constricted—say, “lose 10 pounds” or “beat my marathon record”—when it makes more sense to focus on holistically building a better life. My friend Khe Hy set about creating a system, using the project management app Trello, which gives him a bigger, birds-eye view of how he lives his life. He broke it into four sections: Two focused on big-picture issues and two dealt with concrete changes. The basic idea was with an actionable, yet, not overwhelming system, he could generate a lot of “small wins” on a daily basis—providing momentum for much bigger projects. Learn more at Quartz (9 minutes).

Ideal Week for a Startup CEO

Michael Karnjanaprakorn, CEO of Skillshare, has his own system to maximize the impact of his week. Monday: Meetings with the leadership team helps everyone get on the same page at the beginning of the week and empties the rest of the week of meetings. Tuesday & Thursday: Focus on doing both Deep Work & Task Work. Wednesday: Another day to stack meetings. These sessions can include candidate interviews, investor meetings, or team meetings. Friday: Planning. This includes working on the company vision and strategy and ending with a weekly review. Saturday: “Screen-free Saturdays” is an idea adopted from Tim Ferriss. Only use the phone for maps and coordinating with friends via text (no apps). Learn more at The Startup (3 minutes).

Generous Questions & Generous Listening

It’s hard to transcend a combative question. But it’s hard to resist a generous question – a question that invites honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking a better question. After asking, then comes generous listening – a posture of listening guided by curiosity, vulnerability, a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions, and take in ambiguity. The generous listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other and patiently summons one’s own best self, words and questions. Learn more at Farnam Street (4 minutes).

Feedback Loop

Wow, not one item about any of the hugely important actions taken by the Trump administration all week? – Peter Martin

Some of you were probably thinking the same thing as Peter, so I wanted to let you know my perspective on the issue. I specifically stay away from politics because it tends to alienate rather than include people unless it directly overlaps with innovation, impact or personal growth (like the Uber story this week). Also, I want the Weekend Briefing to be a refuge from the anxiety of the typical news cycle – a place for inspiration and thoughtfulness.

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 Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.