Weekend Briefing No. 183


Welcome to the weekend. August is one of my favorite months. Things seem to slow down – even in the city that never sleeps. I find that it’s a great time to reflect before the manic pace of September hits. This week, there are two articles that argue about the pros and cons of seeking work-life balance. But ultimately, they are about asking the larger question of why we work. This is a good month to reflect on this more essential question. I hope you enjoy.

Oh, and there are a few tickets left for my workshop on getting your writing published. If you’ve had plans to become a writer someday, this workshop is for you. I’ll focus on both creating solid content and pitching your ideas to publishers / editors. Also, if you’re interested, here’s a photo essay from the same event last year. The Apolis space is perfect for this. Get your tickets here.

Prime Numbers

2,500 – On the freelance marketplace UpWork only 100 freelancers listed Virtual Reality development as a skill, now 2,500 do.

58 – Netflix is going to give David Letterman his own show in a bid to woo an older audience. The average age of a David Letterman viewer when his show went off the air was 58 years old.

10 – China has pulled ahead of both Europe and the United States in the electric car market – thanks to the rapid introduction of charging infrastructure and a policy initiative to set a quota requiring 10 percent of all new vehicles sold to be electric from 2018 onward.

Slow Burn

The business world’s obsession with tales of tech startups and entrepreneurship is typically focused on a very specific kind of success story: The kind where startup founders raise giant piles of venture capital to fuel hyper-growth, and then ride said hyper-growth to an IPO or sale. In reality, there are plenty of other paths to success. Not all of them involve venture capital and some end up earning more money for their founders in the end. With no outside investors, Blaine Vess built Student Brands from his dorm room and kept more than 80% of the company, earning at least $47 million on the recent sale of his company 17 years after he founded it. He achieved a better personal payday than the founders of some venture-backed buyouts with price tags that were twice as high. He also avoided the pressure to achieve Silicon Valley-style hyper-growth, which is designed to produce all-or-nothing results. Vess opted for a 17-year slow burn. Learn more at Fortune (5 minutes).

Interview Questions

Conducting a good job interview is tough. How do you really get to understand the candidate? Here is a list of some good interview questions: (1) What’s the shittiest job you’ve ever had? (2) Give me a single sentence to tell our CEO about you when I see her later today. (3) I’m going to give you 5 minutes. Teach me something new. Anything! (4) What are you learning right now? (5) What’s your secret superpower? Learn more at Swiss Miss (4 minutes).

You’re Hallucinating

What is consciousness? It’s essentially comprised of 2 elements. (1) The way we perceive the world. Our brain is constantly using our 5 senses to gather information. We then make a “best guess” as to what we are perceiving based, in large part, on historical data. So, the way we perceive the world is as much an outside in as its an inside out process. (2) The way we perceive ourselves is also based on best guesses from our past behavior. Our brain doesn’t always get it right (a very funny example of this in the video). So, our consciousness is actually a continual controlled hallucination. According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “reality.” Learn more at TED Talk (18 minutes).


Tesla is developing a long-haul electric semi-truck that can drive itself and move in “platoons”, that automatically follow a lead vehicle, and is getting closer to testing a prototype. Several Silicon Valley companies developing autonomous driving technology are working on long-haul trucks. They see the industry as a prime early market for the technology, citing the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic trucks face on interstate highways. It also allows an added benefit for drivers to rest while trucks travel. While established trucking companies and truck manufacturing startups have poured resources into electrifying local package delivery fleets, battery range limitations have largely kept the industry from making electric trucks that travel across swaths of the country. The size of batteries required for long haul trucking means that your cargo essentially becomes the battery. Learn more at Reuters (4 minutes).

The Case Against Work-Life Balance (in Your 20s)

How should you think about work-life balance in your 20’s? What’s not realistic is thinking you can own your future and be comfortable at the same time. Grit, not virtuosity, will be the biggest determinant of your success. However, grit and discipline aren’t enough. You need purpose. The catch, of course, is that true purpose doesn’t sit around waiting to be discovered. It requires constant pursuit. In your 20s, instead of balancing work and life, find meaningful work and bust your ass. Here are some practical tips: (1) There’s no time like now.  As a professional, your early 20s are the most formative stage. It is absolutely critical to make the most of this time because the pace of learning grows slower and more incremental as you age. (2) The place of maximal learning is often at the point of significant pain. Owning your future means choosing grit over the allure of a predictable pace. (3) Find the people who will sharpen your resolve as well as your ideas. Again, your first step matters. If you choose a job for work-life balance, chances are, so did everyone who came before. Learn more from Shyam Sankar (7 minutes).

The Case For Work-Life Balance

We assume that work is worth caring a lot about because of the fulfillments and rewards it supplies, so much so, that it should be the center of life. The solution to our over-worked state isn’t to do less work; it’s to care less about it. Following Socrates’ lead, we can ask ourselves, “If I’m not just a worker, then who am I?” Let this question sit in the back of your mind for a few weeks before you try to answer it. “Who am I?” you might ask while getting bogged down at work. “Who am I?” you might think while you notice your thoughts inclining once again toward completing tasks, planning, strategizing, and making insurmountable to-do lists. “Is this who I am? Is this all I am?” This philosophical question, posed over and over again, is intended to arouse great doubt in you, inviting you to prod your deepest ambitions, why you’re here, and what it’s all about. If your destiny is not to be a total worker, then what could it be? Learn more at Quartz (8 minutes).

Nice Shot

The winners of the National Geographic 2017 Travel Photography Contest are in. Unsurprisingly, they’re stunning. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so, I’ll just shut up and you check out National Geographic (5 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 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.