Weekend Briefing No. 186

Welcome to Labor Day Weekend. I hope you enjoy this last weekend of summer!

Prime Numbers

92 – A whopping 92% of workers admit to multitasking during meetings, including 69% who check their email, and 49% who do unrelated work (re: Facebook). Focus on the people in the room: if you’re not engaged, expect the same from others.

51 – Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, seems like a principled dude. He’s been a vocal proponent of gender and race imbalances. Under his leadership, Expedia increased its workforce to 51% female, far more than Uber’s paltry 36.1%.

43 – Amazon.com Inc. spent its first official day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting prices at Whole Foods Market as much as 43% on mostly organic products. Notably, my favorite – the organic rotisserie chicken – is now below $10!

Family Business

We don’t have to scratch our heads and wonder why there is an alarming lack of women in positions of leadership, boardrooms, and public office. Women will never be able to effectively “lean in” without the proper economic, social, and community support for the most critical work of all: raising the next generation. The good news for skeptical business leaders: Supporting our working families isn’t just the ethical thing to do, it will also balance out financially. Patagonia recovers 91% of its costs annually. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., has estimated returns of 115% for its child-care program; KPMG found that its clients earned a return on investment (ROI) of 125%. Beyond that, it means more women in management, greater employee loyalty and a stronger culture of workplace trust. Patagonia just launched a book on their experience of offering child care for the last 30 years, check out a video highlighting their experience.  Patagonia (4 minutes).


We’ve been hearing a lot of negative news about gender equality and sexism in Silicon Valley. So, it’s cool to hear that over the past year, VC firm Sequoia Capital has been running a program that pairs technical women across its portfolio companies with mentors at other organizations. Dubbed “Ascent,” the initiative was started in the summer of 2016 by Sequoia’s human capital partner, Joe Dobrenski. Not surprisingly, women often lack access to relevant female role models and feel alone in their organizations. To solve for that, over the last year, Sequoia matched 50 women from portfolio companies like Eventbrite, GitHub, and Evernote with 50 more senior women from other organizations. The second class of mentors and mentees, which will start the one-year program later this week, will include 200 total participants. According to women who have gone through Ascent, one of its strengths is that it doesn’t just promote one-on-one relationships. It also includes access to peer groups, professional development events and an online component with structured content. Fortune (4 minutes).

Becoming Insanely Well-Connected

Add value in conversations’ is typical advice. This means making sure people walk away with a new idea, referral, intro, etc. But Chris Fralic, Venture Capitalist at First Round Capital, has found imparting energy to be even more important than sharing new information. He has 7 rules. Here are 3: (1) Use humility markers. “I’ll often start that conversation saying, ‘I’m wrong all the time and I very well may be here.’” Acknowledging your own fallibility and human imperfection can go a long way toward making yourself relatable. Especially if there’s a power dynamic where someone is asking for your advice, attention or help, you want to put the other person at ease. (2) Offer unvarnished honesty.  You can differentiate yourself by being as honest as you can. Just remember to root your honesty in what will actually have utility for the other party. This will set a good tone for all future conversations. (3) Give before thinking about what you get. Always offer something of value before expecting or asking for something in return. Key to this is not focusing on reciprocity. First Round Review (18 minutes).

Clean Meat

Alternative or “clean” meat startup Memphis Meats announced Wednesday morning that it has completed a $17 million Series A fundraising round. Memphis Meats is commercializing what it says is the “world’s first chicken produced without the animal.” The company grows meat in tanks by feeding living animal cells oxygen, sugar, and other nutrients. The process uses about 1% of the land and 10% of the water needed for conventional animal agriculture. The round was led by venture capital firm DFJ. Cargill, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson also invested, as did European venture capital fund Atomico, New Crop Capital, SOSV, Fifty Years, KBW Ventures, Inevitable Ventures, Suzy Welch, Kyle Vogt, and Kimbal Musk. Several research institutions also joined the round. Fortune (2 minutes).

Making Bad Decisions

Here are five common mental errors that sway you from making good decisions. (1) Survivorship bias – our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy. (2) Loss aversion – our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. (3) The Availability Heuristic – assuming that the examples which come to mind easily are also the most important or prevalent things. (4) Anchoring –the tendency to heavily rely on the first piece of information offered when making decisions. (5) Confirmation bias – our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs. James Clear (6 minutes).

Transparent Supply Chain

H&M’s newly launched label, Arket, which is priced slightly higher than H&M and focused more on staple pieces than trends, seeks to follow in the footsteps of brands like Apolis and Patagonia by giving the location and name of the factory where each and every piece of clothing was made. It’s a move that pushes transparency, which is vital to help keep corporations accountable, to a new level for mass-market fashion.But it also raises important questions: What is a shopper supposed to do with that information? And how useful is all this transparency, really? Quartz (5 minutes).

Good Listening

New York Magazine compiled a list of the best podcasts of 2017 (so far). I’m a huge podcast fan, so here are some of my favorites from the list. If you’re looking for something to listen to over the holiday weekend, check out: (1) Missing Richard Simmons. Frustrating and controversial, Missing Richard Simmons is a curious and fascinating show in pursuit of a why Richard Simmons disappeared from public life. (2) S-Town. Of course S-Town would be on this list. Novelistic, ambitious, and breathtaking in its attempt to capture the sum of a redneck genius named John B. Mclemore. This is my favorite of the year. (3) The Daily. Solid and fairly brief rundown of the news of the day from the New York Times. Vulture (7 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.