Weekend Briefing No. 234

Welcome to the weekend. Cheerio from London. I’m in London for my cousin’s wedding.

On my way back I’m spending a week in Iceland. As I’m driving around the country, I’m contemplating what series I should listen too: Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia? Cast your vote here.

Prime Numbers

2 MM bees must collect nectar from 2 MM flowers to produce a single pound of honey.

100 An average beehive produces 100 pounds of honey per year.

80 80% of US crops that rely on honeybees for pollination.

Designer Babies

The Pew Research Center asked 2,537 US adults how they felt about changing the genetic characteristics of babies using gene-editing tools. Seven out of 10 people said they think changing a baby’s genes is an appropriate use of technology, but only if it’s to treat or avoid a serious disease. When asked, only 20 percent thought making “more intelligent” humans would be acceptable. Most believed that using gene editing to increase intelligence would be taking things “too far.” Americans may be generally okay with genetically modified babies, but they still think negative results are more likely than positive ones. Survey respondents ranked inequality as their top worry. More than half think it’s “very likely” that gene-edited babies will only be available to the wealthy. Pew (22 minutes)

Purpose-Driven Burritos

“Our ultimate marketing mission is to make Chipotle not just a food brand but a purpose-driven lifestyle brand,” an executive, Christopher Brandt, said on an earnings call. What the heck does this even mean? Now, all kinds of companies are trying the strategy of using emotion and “shared values” to build relationships with consumers — and to sell them more stuff. That said, trying to equate a fondness for burritos with something greater may cause more than a few eye rolls. In my book Profit & Purpose, I highlight the importance of authenticity (Do you really align with my values? How do I know?) and accountability (Measuring the impact in a transparent and honest way.) Otherwise jaded consumers will see the inauthenticity and you’ll be worse off in the long run. That being said… Chipotle, I’m a huge fan! Email me if you want some help here. New York Times (6 minutes)


A recent survey of 1500 venture capitalists found that 40% of venture investors have attended Stanford or Harvard. Just TWO schools! Why is that? Everyone wants to work with those they are most similar to, and education, gender, and race are attributes that allow people to find similarities in others. With 82% of the industry being male, nearly 60% of the industry being white male, and 40% of the industry coming from just two academic institutions, it is no wonder that this industry feels so insular and less of meritocracy but more of a mirrortocracy. The bar to create a more diverse industry is difficult when one looks for folks that most resemble themselves; and while talent is evenly distributed, unfortunately, opportunity is not. Noteworthy (3 minutes)


Gwynne Shotwell launches spaceships, sells rockets, and deals with Elon Musk. Shotwell. The 54-year-old engineer has worked with Musk since SpaceX’s founding in 2002, longer than almost any executive at any Musk company. She manages about 6,000 SpaceX employees and translates her boss’s far-out ideas into sustainable businesses—whether it means selling customers on a rocket or telling them not to read too much into @elonmusk. She’s succeeded remarkably. Gwynne has been able to provide this constant, consistent, positive leadership for SpaceX. Her leadership is less emotional than Musk’s, but perhaps a bit more assertive. Aerospace insiders commonly use the word “normal” to describe her, in a barely veiled comparison to her boss. Gwynne is the steady hand, Elon says let’s go to Mars and she says, ‘OK, what do we need to actually get to Mars?’ Bloomberg Businessweek (12 minutes)


A recent study found that best endurance athletes in the world all have one thing in common: they oscillate between periods of stress and rest. As an athlete, if you want to improve something—your 100-meter time, say, or your deadlift PR—you’ve got to apply a challenge, some sort of “stressor,” and then follow it with a period of rest and recovery. Too much stress without enough rest and you get injury, illness, and burnout. Not enough stress plus too much rest and you get complacency, boredom, and stagnation. Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that. That equation can be beneficially applied not just to fitness but to your career, team and relationship. Outside (5 minutes)

Confident, Connected, Committed, Courageous

To lead effectively — really, to live effectively — you must be confident in yourself, connected to others, committed to purpose, and emotionally courageous. Most of us are great at only one of the four. Maybe two. But to be a powerful presence — to inspire action — you need to excel at all four simultaneously. Harvard Business Review (6 minutes)

Let It Go

All experiences arise and fade, and that can be observed in real time. There’s no such thing as a permanent experience. All experiences do go, guaranteed, but you don’t make them go, you let them go. When you let experiences go, they tend to go sooner. But we often don’t let them. We fight with them. We tend to see present-moment experiences as though they’re more permanent than they really are, so we think it’s necessary to fight with ones we don’t like and cling to ones we do like. We don’t quite recognize, for example, how few seconds the pleasure of an ice cream cone really lasts, or how quickly a moment of pain passes if we don’t dwell on it. Let it come, let it be, let it go. Raptitude (8 minutes)

From the Community

I just picked up a deck of Reflection Cards designed to help spark good conversations created by my friends at Holstee.

 Weekend Wisdom

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.Stephen Fry

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 Bruno Abatti