Weekend Briefing No. 328

Welcome to the weekend.

Hello from Tennessee. I’m spending some time relaxing with my family at the lake this Memorial Day Weekend. I hope you are finding a way to get outside safely today.

This week in Bourbon & Briefing, our weekly Zoom happy hour, we’ll have a special guest joining us. Li Jin wrote the piece below on the Passion Economy. If you don’t already have the calendar invite and you want to join us today at 5 p.m. ET, click here.

Also, here are some quick shout-outs to the community.

First, congrats to my friend David Gungor and The Brilliance. Their Telephone music video, featured in last week’s briefing, made YouTube’s Hot Videos list with Katy Perry and Harry Styles.

Second, a few weeks ago, I featured a fundraiser that All Hands and Hearts was conducting to raise funds for personal protective equipment (PPE). Thanks to everyone who donated, they raised more than $200,000 and distributed vital PPE to 41 entities, including police and fire departments, group homes and nursing homes.

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Prime Numbers

1B – A YouTube channel serving up nursery rhymes just set a new record: one billion views on the platform in a single week.

96 – There are 96 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States, supplying 20 percent of the electrical power in the country and about 50 percent of the carbon-free energy.

4 – For the first time ever, NYC has 4 Venture Capital backed, publicly traded companies with more than $10 billion valuations.

Passion Economy

Participants in the Passion Economy are individuals whose skills and abilities were previously under-monetized or under-utilized relative to their potential. New technologies and business models in the Passion Economy enable more people to unlock economic value from their creative skills and passions, where they had previously been hampered by traditional intermediaries and unfavorable business models. By developing new products and services that are cheaper, simpler and more convenient, workers in the Passion Economy can tap into large segments of consumers who previously could not access or afford, or were over-served, by traditional offerings. In this way, Passion Economy businesses have the potential to disrupt incumbent companies. Li’s Newsletter (9 minutes)

Death to the Megacity?

It is easy to assume the death of the megacity as the virus rips through our nations. Density is an issue. Some are calling big cities “plague pits.” To what extent does our response to COVID-19 mark a novel departure from the trends driving the creation of the megacity? The picture is actually nuanced. New York City Health Department data indicates that Manhattan, the borough with the highest population density, was not the hardest hit. Deaths are concentrated in the less dense, more diverse outer boroughs. Citywide, black and Latino residents are experiencing mortality rates that are twice those of white city dwellers. The disease is devastating cities like New York because of the structure of health care, the housing market and the labor market, not because of their density. The World Bank points out that the places most affected are not simply large cities or those with high population density. It is poor, overcrowded housing that lacks infrastructure services, especially water and sanitation, and with minimal open spaces such as informal settlements. It is too early to call time on the megacity. Exponential View (15 minutes)

Mother Earth

The real reckoning of our age, maybe of our lifetime, is not whether we will prevail over the virus. It’s whether our respect for science, and our collective will—so muscular during the crisis—will prevail when we reboot and rebuild. Looking back, Mother Earth was starting to clear her throat and make herself heard: Australian bush fires were ravaging the continent. Earth had registered its highest temperatures since records began. Icebergs and glaciers became melted popsicles in the sun. There were floods and droughts, and swarms of locusts descending on Africa. Bill McKibben was one of the early climate change whistleblowers, so to speak. Ever since, he has been issuing warnings on the danger of ignoring science. Biology just doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that it’s causing a recession. It’s not going to back off because it’s an election year. It doesn’t give a fig about any of that. So you have to respect that, and that’s hard for us because we’re used to a world where we run everything that there is to run. If microbes have the ability to create a rupture in the lives of billions, we humans have our own powers and evolutionary advantages—our intelligence, empathy and our ability to cooperate. It’s hard to conceive of another time in human history when, worldwide, the best minds of our generation were all fixated on solving the same riddle, scribbling on the same blackboard, sharing data and sharing screens. Flatten another curve. Flatten the carbon curve too. If we did that, then people might look back in 50 years at this time and thank us instead of curse us. 60 Minutes (14 minutes)

Overcoming the Purpose Gap

Seventy-two percent of employees say that purpose should have more weight than profit, and only 42 percent say that their company’s purpose has impact. There is a purpose gap. The only way to bridge a purpose gap is to embed your reflection, exploration, discussion, and action in the heart of your business and your organization. (1) Get real. Create a baseline from a stakeholder perspective. (2) Connect purpose with your company’s superpower. (3) Keep purpose at the top of mind. (4) Measure what you can. Learn from what you measure. McKinsey (16 minutes)

Recharge

Stanford researchers are one step closer toward enabling electric cars to recharge themselves wirelessly as they drive. Engineers have demonstrated a practical way to use magnetism to transmit electricity wirelessly to recharge electric cars, robots or even drones. Wireless chargers transmit electricity by creating a magnetic field that oscillates at a frequency that creates a resonating vibration in magnetic coils on the receiving device. The problem is that the resonant frequency changes if the distance between the source and receiver shifts by even a small amount. The technology could be scaled up to power electric cars as they drive over highways, robots move on factory floors and drones hover over rooftops. Stanford (6 minutes)

Doughnut Economics

Amsterdam is trying to get ahead of the problem with a recovery plan it released in early April titled Amsterdam Circular Strategy 2020-2025. It’s a bit different from what one might expect from a post-pandemic recovery plan: Its main goals aren’t about growing the economy or increasing the gross domestic product. Rather, it’s about making the city better for people and the planet. The city’s plan focuses on ensuring affordable housing and jobs, revamping recycling programs, and cutting food waste. Its overarching goals are to slash the use of raw materials in half by 2030 and phase them out completely by 2050. With this plan, Amsterdam appears to be the first city in the world to turn to something called “doughnut economics,” an economic framework created by British economist Kate Raworth in 2012. PRI (8 minutes)

PPP Loan Forgiveness

On May 15, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the long-awaited Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness Application. The new application provides clarity on a few points. I summarized them in my recent Forbes article: (1) The time window for forgiveness may start on your first payroll date after receiving money. (2) You have to certify if you and your affiliated companies received more than $2M. (3) Your amount of forgivable payroll costs won’t be reduced if employees turn down re-hire requests. (4) There’s a cap on business owners who take a draw. (5) The 75/25 Rule is still in place for now. Forbes (5 minutes)

Bookshelf

In this 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, the author brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

Most Read Last Week

Telephone—This simple, stunning music video focuses on loss in the time of coronavirus.

Mannahatta—This is a virtual tour of what Manhattan looked like before the Dutch arrives.

Fishing with Dynamite—The trailer of the upcoming documentary asks how can businesses do more than pursue short-term, easy profits at the expense of employees, customers, suppliers and communities?

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 Dave.

Should We Work Together?

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Weekend Wisdom

The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.Gandalf

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