Weekend Briefing No. 282

Welcome to the 4th of July weekend!

Prime Numbers

45,000 A fire at a Jim Beam bourbon facility in Kentucky ruined about 45,000 barrels, potentially destroying hundreds of millions of dollars of bourbon.

5 5 Russian couples who are deaf want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique so they can have a biological child who can hear.

1 – Researchers in HK combined artificial intelligence and manual counting techniques to estimate the size of the protest, concluding that 265,000 people marched.

Women & Leadership

According to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones. Women were rated as excelling in taking initiative, acting with resilience, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty. In fact, they were thought to be more effective in 84% of the competencies that we most frequently measure. Interestingly, the data shows that when women were asked to assess themselves, they were not as generous in their ratings. When we compare confidence ratings for men and women, we see a large difference in those under 25. It’s highly probable that those women are far more competent than they think they are, while the male leaders are overconfident and perceive them as far more competent than they are in actuality. At age 40, the confidence ratings merge. It’s possible that these lower levels of confidence at younger ages could motivate women to take more initiative, be more resilient, and to be more receptive to feedback from others, which in turn makes them more effective leaders in the long run. Harvard Business Review (10 minutes)

Gen Z Values

Members of Gen Z—loosely, people born from 1995 to 2010— are true digital natives: from earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and to mobile systems. That context has produced a hypercognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences. A McKinsey study based on the survey reveals four core Gen Z behaviors, all anchored in one element: this generation’s search for truth. Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. That is why, for us, Gen Z is “True Gen.” In contrast, the previous generation—the millennials, sometimes called the “me generation”—got its start in an era of economic prosperity and focuses on the self. Its members are more idealistic, more confrontational, and less willing to accept diverse points of view. McKinsey & Co. (17 minutes)

Will Gen-Z Save Us?

Boomers and Gen Xers criticize Gen Z for being entitled, and emotionally fragile, etc. But the people in this movement have a sense of vocation, moral call, and a rage at injustice that is legitimate rejection of what came before. It’s often uncomfortable and over the top, but we’re lucky to have a rebellion against boomer quietism and moral miniaturization. The young zealots may burn us all in the flames of their auto-da-fe, but it’s better than living in a society marked by loneliness and quiet despair. New York Times (7 minutes)

Costco’s Secrets to Success

(1) Slim markups. Costco has stated in the past that it caps its markups at 14% for brand-name items, and 15% for its in-house Kirkland brands — even wine, which is notorious for its 200% to 300% markups elsewhere. But according to the company’s 2018 annual report, the average item in the store is only marked up 11%, compared to the 25%-50% often seen in retail. (2) A cover charge. As of 2018, 51,600,000 people pay Costco membership fees, good for $3.14B in annual revenue. More impressively, the renewal rate is a whopping 90%. (3) More of less. They stocks massive volumes of few products. The average warehouse stocks just 3,700 SKUs at any given time, less than 1/10th of most supermarkets’ 40,000 to 50,000 items, and not much more than the average corner store. In doing so, Costco solves the paradox of choice — a conundrum consumers encounter when an abundance of options causes stress and delays decision-making. (4) They work with brands to re-engineer products from the ground up to reduce cost. (5) Investing in people. But Costco realizes that it is more cost effective to retain happy employees and — brace yourself — actually pay them a livable wage, than it is to churn and burn. The average pay among its 245,000 workers (143,000 full-time, 102,000 part-time) works out to $21 per hour, double the national retail average and nearly 2x Walmart’s going rate. Moreover, 88% of Costco workers receive company-sponsored health insurance. The Hustle (14 minutes)

Sikh on Trucking

Mostly hailing from the Punjab region of India, Sikh drivers are transforming the U.S. trucking industry. As drivers age toward retirement — the average American trucker is 55 — and a shortage grows, Sikh immigrants and their kids are increasingly taking up the role. To the Sikh trucker  life in America is one of contrasts. On one hand, you see the diversity of America as you encounter new immigrants from around the world working the same job as people who have been truckers for decades. All transport the food, paper and plastic that make the country run. However on the other hand  you also see the relics of the past and the reminders of how you, as a Sikh in 2019, still don’t entirely fit in. Los Angeles Times (14 minutes)

Direct Listings

The biggest difference between an IPO and a Direct Listing is that there is no “o” — that is, there is no offering from the company selling its stock to public investors. Besides this and, the differences between IPOs and Direct Listings mainly boil down to the order of operations. The activities in both processes are actually rather similar — registration, investor education, trading, and so on — differing mainly in what happens when, and in some cases, how. There is also no formal book-building roadshow in a Direct Listing. In a traditional IPO, the company going public literally goes “on the road” with their underwriter (the investment bank) over an intense two-week period for back-to-back, intimate meetings with potential investors. They do this is not just to market their company story, but to enable the management team to build relationships with investors — typically, large institutional investors — and for those investors to then submit orders to purchase shares (“building the book”) at the end of the process. A16Z (17 minutes)

LightSail 2

So far, it’s been smooth sailing for the LightSail 2, the solar spacecraft orbiting on its own after being delivered to space last week aboard Space X’s Falcon Heavy. The mission team of the Planetary Society confirmed on Wednesday that it has established two-way communications with LightSail 2 and is running various tests. According to the spacecraft’s telemetry, all of its major systems appear to be operating normally. Over the next few days, a time will be set for LightSail 2 to deploy its signature solar sails which will propel it forward. Unlike traditional spacecraft which rely on rocket engines, LightSail 2’s design is powered by photons from the sun. If successful, it will be the first controlled light sail ever to enter and maintain Earth orbit. Engadget (5 minutes)


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Race is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism. Amazon

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 Ties Rademacher

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Weekend Wisdom

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. Thomas Jefferson