Weekend Briefing No. 179

Welcome to the Weekend! You may notice that there is a new section at the bottom of the email called “From the Community”. I’m constantly impressed at how amazing you – members of the Weekend Briefing community – are. So, in this section, I’ll highlight great work from you. This week we have an article, a book and a TedX Talk. Check it out. Let me know what you think.

Prime Numbers

70,000 – On Thursday 70,000 organizations, including Google, Facebook, and even PornHub, joined forces in encouraging people to voice dislike to the Federal Communications Commission about plans to U-turn on net neutrality rules.

6,668 – Ships carrying Chinese troops are about to take the 6,668km trip to Djibouti to set up China's first overseas military base. China says the support base will be used for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and West Asia.

35 – Forty years ago, nearly 60% of U.S. teenagers were working or looking for work during the peak summer months. Last year, just 35% were. Some are attributing it to lack of teen work ethic, others point to retirees taking the jobs to earn supplemental income.

The 5 Cent Anti-Aging Pill

Rather than trying to develop a wildly expensive, highly speculative therapy that will likely only benefit the billionaire-demigod set, Dr. Barzilai wants to convince the FDA to put its seal of approval on an antiaging drug for the rest of us: A cheap, generic, demonstrably safe pharmaceutical that has already shown, in a host of preliminary studies, that it may be able to help stave off many of the worst parts of growing old. Not only that, it would also shorten the duration of those awful parts. Research has shown that those who take the metformin live slightly longer, but the true promise of antiaging drugs, isn’t just in length of life. The ideal drug might not even extend life for all that long. Instead, it would extend our health span—the years of healthy, disease-free living before the diseases of aging set in. FDA approval is at least 5 years out, but early signs look positive. Learn more in Wired (12 minutes).

Automated Management

Rainforest QA, a quality assurance company that tests for bugs in websites and apps, has 60,000 contractors that are managed through AI – a series of interconnected algorithms. The AI is designed to guide contractors through its entire tenure from onboarding to testing. The service works a lot like the Uber algorithm that matches drivers and rides, but it’s much more granular. Imagine if Uber had cameras in the car that was judging the driver on every turn he made, then giving more rides to the drivers that made more efficient trips. It’s kinda like that. This future of automated management will soon leave startup tech companies and spill over into larger companies taking an increasing amount of work away from middle managers. Learn more at Quartz (12 minutes).

White Box

This week a new company called Brandless launched. Aiming to be the Proctor & Gamble of Millennials, they sell food, beauty, household and office supplies at the price of $3. Created in 2016 by entrepreneur Ido Leffler and Sherpa Capital partner, Tina Sharkey, Brandless has raised almost $50m thus far on the bet that younger consumers don’t care as much about brands as big CPG companies would like investors to believe. Rather than a prominent brand name, each product’s name and “values” are listed front-and-center on the package. They are aiming to remove what they call the Brand Tax – the hidden costs you pay for a national brand, and with every Brandless order, a meal is donated to people facing hunger through Feeding America. Seems like an interesting concept. Learn more at The Hustle (3 minutes).

Welcome to Our Startup

As you can probably tell by looking around, every employee at our startup is 23 years old. On the morning of your 24th birthday, the barcode on your employee ID stops working and you can no longer enter our building. We do this to ensure our company has a ceaseless, youthful energy. We believe old people are displeasing to look at and also, bad at ideas. We do things a little differently here at our startup. First of all, we have a completely horizontal, non-hierarchical organizational structure. There are no bosses, no subordinates. We show our commitment to a completely flat hierarchy by not giving anyone a salary. No one at our company earns a single dollar because everyone is equally important here. Did we mention we’re not like all the other startups? At our startup, employees are encouraged to fail. Failure is good. Failure represents progress toward success. We don’t focus on things like profit, or overhead, or returns on investment. Those things are boring and stupid, like old people. Read the rest of this satirical piece on startup culture in McSweeney’s  (6 minutes).

How to Raise Brilliant Kids

To raise brilliant kids focus on the 6 C’s. (1) Collaboration is everything from getting along with others to controlling your impulses. It's building a community and experiencing diversity and culture. (2) Communication comes next, because you can't communicate if you have no one to communicate with. This includes speaking, writing, reading and that all-but-lost art of listening. (3) Content is built on communication. You can't learn anything if you haven't learned how to understand language, or to read. (4) Critical thinking relies on content, because you can't navigate masses of information if you have nothing to navigate to. (5) Creative innovation requires knowing something. You can't just be a monkey throwing paint on a canvas. It's the 10,000-hour rule: You need to know something well enough to make something new. (6) And finally, confidence: You have to have the confidence to take safe risks. Learn more at NPR (7 minutes).

Conversational Narcissist

Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing your ego long enough to consider what is being said before you respond. Many people are conversational narcissists. They often employ the shift-response, which is the act of finding a connection to the previous subject and seeking an opening for the respondent to shift the topic to himself. When serving narcissistic ends, shift-responses are repeated until a clear shift in subject has transpired. This weekend, let’s all try to avoid being conversational narcissists and instead be active listeners. Who knows… we might learn something. Learn more at Farnam Street (10 minutes).

Lessons from Iron Maiden

In 40 years Iron Maiden has performed more than 2,000 concerts in nearly 60 countries. Their top five songs on Spotify have over 230 million streams. That’s more than Prince, that’s more than Madonna. The reason Iron Maiden has never been a radio band and the reason the band has survived through the decades are actually the same. There are essentially no Iron Maiden love songs, no ballads, and few short hard paced singles—three easy ways to appeal to the masses. Instead the great Iron Maiden songs tend to be based on historical characters or great works of literature. They’ve got an 8- minute long song about Alexander the Great. They’ve got an 8-minute long song about Paschendale, one of the most horrific battles of the First World War. They’ve got songs based on lines from Shakespeare, the epic novels of Frank Herbert and the myth of Icarus. In choosing to root their music in these historical events, Iron Maiden were essentially banning themselves from mainstream radio. But this was a brilliant choice, because while almost nothing on radio lasts, is there anything more durable than the themes of Shakespeare or the Greek myths? Learn more at the Observer (6 minutes).

From the Community

Jeff Walker discusses the traits of systems entrepreneurs in his article How a New Breed of Nonprofit Leader Is Driving Social Change.

Joel Solomon explores how you can ride the $40 trillion wave to create the new, ethical, and sustainable businesses that power local economies, restore ecosystems, and build social and financial equity in his book The Clean Money Revolution.

Daniela Papi Thorton explores the difference between being a social business founder and a system change leader and then unpicks how we talk about, fund, and educate for social entrepreneurship in her TedX Talk Reclaiming Social Entrepreneurship.

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. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback, insights, tips 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.