Weekend Briefing No. 232

Welcome to the weekend.

Prime Numbers

2035 – Electronic and autonomous vehicles are predicted to fully embraced by consumers by 2035. Since vehicles account for the largest share of global oil demand, our need for oil could peak by 2035.

118 – Halfway through the year, with 118 deals completed, startup funding on the African continent has reached $168.6 million—surpassing last year’s total of $167.7 million.

27 Online apparel sales accounted for 27.4% of overall U.S. apparel sales last year, up from 23.5% in 2016 and 20.7% in 2015.

B Corp Performance

A machine learning platform Helio has scored the brands of the 306 B Corps operating in the consumer space. Helio establishes a brand score by examining billions of data points covering a wide range of information to help us evaluate the strength, reach, growth and intensity of a brand. Brand rank is where a company with a certain brand score falls relative to companies in its same category (e.g. a peanut butter will only be ranked against other peanut butters). The average brand rank across all consumer companies is 5, but 93% of B Corps companies we analyzed scored above that average. In fact, 75% of B Corps scored a 9 or 10 on brand rank, as seen below. The strong brands of B Corps do indeed correlate to strong sales (as our brand model would predict). B Corps have seen high increases in sales over the past five years. As of October 2017, the B Corps cohort saw a 49% growth in sales compared to 15% for the category cohort––over 3X the sales growth. If you are considering B Corp certification for your company, shoot me an email. We’ve helped many companies achieve B Corp certification. Circle Up (6 minutes)

Facial Recognition in Schools

Over the past two years, RealNetworks has developed a facial recognition tool that it hopes will help schools more accurately monitor who gets past their front doors. This week the company launched a website where school administrators can download the tool, called SAFR, for free and integrate it with their own camera systems. So far, one school in Seattle is testing the tool and the state of Wyoming is designing a pilot program that could launch later this year. Like many parents in the United States, Rob Glaser, RealNetworks CEO, has been thinking a lot lately about how to keep his kids from getting shot in school. Specifically, he’s been thinking of what he can do that doesn’t involve getting into a nasty and endless battle over gun control. Could facial recognition be the answer? WIRED (7 minutes)

McKinsey & Co(rruption)

In late 2015, over objections from at least three influential McKinsey partners, the firm decided to sign its biggest contract ever in Africa, with a potential value of $700 million. It was the biggest mistake in McKinsey’s nine-decade history. McKinsey’s proposal appeared perfect for a company in desperate financial straits. Eskom – a state owned energy company in S. Africa – would pay only if the plan produced savings. Then the consultancy would get a percentage. All the risk, ostensibly, would be McKinsey’s, since it might spend heavily but get nothing in the end. They were betting the office and the firm’s reputation on this mega deal. The deal ended up being illegal and fraught with corruption. International corruption watchdogs call it a case of “state capture.” Lawmakers call it a silent coup. It has already led to the ouster of  Zuma, the South African President. Yet McKinsey walked away with $100 MM for 8 months of work. How did McKinsey, with its vast influence, impeccable research credentials and record of advising companies and governments on best practices, become entangled in such an untoward affair? New York Times (18 minutes)

Jake @ The ESPYs

It was amazing to see my good friend Jake Wood, cofounder of Team Rubicon, receive the Pat Tillman award for Service at the ESPYs this week. His speech was simple and inspiring. He noted that our capacity to love our neighbors is near limitless after a category 5 hurricane. People cross the tracks to assist neighbors in need, who they wouldn’t have spoken to the day prior. Why is it in the months following a storm, we retreat back into our corners and dismiss those very human beings we’ve come to love? Know your neighbor. Love your neighbor. Help your neighbor. YouTube (3 minutes)

Profit & Purpose

The new generation of global entrepreneurs is going into business motivated by purpose rather than just profit, according to research by the HSBC banking group released on Tuesday. The bank surveyed 3,700 entrepreneurs in 11 countries. One in five said their priority as a business owner was to deliver solutions to environmental and social challenges. One in four entrepreneurs aged under 35 said they were more motivated by social impact than by moneymaking, compared to just over one in 10 of those aged over 55, according the results of the HSBC survey. This research suggests this is a generational shift. Younger entrepreneurs are focused on environmental and social concerns and that’s because they see these values as being their own. Thomson Reuters (3 minutes)

Don’t Follow Your Passion

When people give the advice to “follow your passion” it always makes me cringe. According to a Stanford study, mantras like “follow your passion” make people think that pursuing a passion will be easy. Believers are then more likely to give up when they face challenges or roadblocks. I personally have followed my passion, and that’s been an incredibly challenging and risky road for me. I can tell you that following your passion makes your path more challenging by at least 2X and the chance of failure increases by at least 2X. Many people in my generation bought into the Disney story that following your passion will make the world unfold easily in front of you. It’s simply not true and not helpful. CNBC (5 minutes)


Nothing will change your future trajectory like habits. First forget inspiration. Forget goals. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice. Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do). Habits can compound. Stephen Covey paraphrased Gandhi when he explained: Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny. In other words, building a single habit can have a wider impact on our lives. Farnam Street (11 minutes)

Feedback Loop

Last week’s Reply All question was: Are you a procrastinator?

You responded: 82.9% Yes; 12.2% No; 4.9% Let me get back to you on that.

In response to the Preparing Our Kids article Peter Gross said:  It seems to me that liberal arts needs a PR push as well as a major public reminder of the value that liberal arts has added to society: viz., you know, the building blocks of Western society.  The key questions faced by Silicon Valley right now, for example, are nothing new to philosophers: what are the good and the beautiful?  How do ethos, rhythmos, and pathos find their place within a life well-lived?  What are public goods and why should we promote them?  Or, in more recent parlance – Why does AI tend to have a white-male-American bent?  Why are heavy phone users less happy?

Silicon Valley types are acting as if no one has ever asked these questions, when in reality, everyone who mattered asked these questions and fostered debate on these issues from the Renaissance until the 1980s.  Reclaiming these debates will be key to creating a better world in the era of globalization, and if we aren’t aware of them, we’re doomed to be enslaved by whomever owns the STEM assets we are so hell-bent on globalizing.

From the Community

My friend Rob Kaplan just launched a new fund called Circulate Capital that seeks to keep plastic out of oceans by financing companies and initiatives that focus on waste collection, processing, sorting and manufacturing.

Weekend Wisdom

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. – Colin Powell

About the Weekend Briefing

A Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society by Kyle Westaway – Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose.

Photo by Eder Pozo Pérez