Weekend Briefing No. 355

Welcome to the weekend. I know this is a hard Thanksgiving holiday for many who are unable to be with their families. I hope that you take time to do something that brings you joy this weekend. 

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Prime Numbers

62,000,000—The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix drew a record 62 million household viewers in less than a month.

1,000,000—To meet demand for Clorox wipes due to the pandemic, Clorox has added 10 additional third-party manufacturers and is running its own facilities 24 hours a day. One million packages of Clorox Wipes are produced every day, and they are scooped up as soon as they hit the shelves.

5Five percent of nail salons in the entire United States are located in Brooklyn and Queens alone.

Pandemic Fatigue

Pandemic fatigue: it’s plaguing organizations and employees right now. In the context of the uncertainty and stress of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to understand that this sense of disillusionment is natural, to be expected, and, based on past experiences with similar crises, a normal cognitive response to a massive and traumatic disruption. And past crises have also shown us that it can take months or even years after the direct operational effects of a crisis are resolved to emerge from the long period of disillusionment and grief that tends to follow. It’s imperative for leaders to move through these phases effectively so they are able to lead with hope and inspiration. Here’s how: (1) Administer the antidote to disillusionment: Bounded optimism. (2) Listen deeply for signs of exhaustion and other natural responses to stress. (3) Develop adaptability and resilience skills at scale. (4) Focus on care, connection, and well-being. (5) Unleash energy by evolving the organization’s operating model. McKinsey Quarterly (21 minutes)

Distributed Communication Rules

Basecamp has a guide to internal communication. They’ve been working remotely for years. This is what they think is meaningful: (1) Meetings are a last resort, not the first option. Five people in a room for an hour isn’t a one-hour meeting, it’s a five-hour meeting. Be mindful of the tradeoffs. (2) Never expect or require someone to get back to you immediately unless it’s a true emergency. The expectation of immediate response is toxic. (3) Communication shouldn’t require schedule synchronization. Calendars have nothing to do with communication. Writing, rather than speaking or meeting, is independent of schedule and far more direct. (4) If something’s going to be difficult to hear or share, invite questions at the end. Ending without the invitation will lead to public silence but private conjecture. This is where rumors breed. (5) Ask if things are clear. Ask what you left out. Ask if there was anything someone was expecting that you didn’t cover. Address the gaps before they widen with time. Basecamp (18 minutes)

Time Confetti

One of the reasons that we don’t feel like we have as much leisure as we used to, even though we have more, is that our leisure (and even our work time) is a lot more distracted. This is the idea of “time confetti.” When we’re trying to enjoy leisure, or we’re trying to focus productively on work, our mind is being pulled in many different directions that make us feel stressed and overwhelmed. To the extent that our technology is distracting us, pulling us out of the present and undermining our ability to enjoy leisure, it’s also creating all this tension between various aspects of our life and things that we could or should be doing. That is a major driver of time poverty: time confetti and our relationship with technology. Behavioral Scientist (10 minutes)

NBA and Startups

What makes NBA player (and back-to-back MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo a bona fide superstar? And what would you look for in the numbers to spot the next Giannis? Efficiency and Usage. In basketball and tech in particular, a deeper understanding of efficiency—both in how to measure it and how to leverage that to build winning teams—and usage has changed the game in the last decade. Efficiency is essentially a snapshot view of how well a player or go-to-market team can perform, given some constraint such as cap space or advertising budget, while usage helps us understand how that efficiency will hold up over time. a16z (20 minutes)

Call In

Call Out Culture / Cancel Culture’s characteristics include presumption of guilt (without facts or nuance getting in the way); essentialism (when criticism of bad behavior becomes criticism of a bad person); pseudo-intellectualism (proclaiming one’s moral high ground); unforgivability (no apology is good enough); and, of course, contamination, or guilt by association. Smith College’s Professor Ross thinks call-out culture has taken conversations that could have once been learning opportunities and turned them into mud wrestling on message boards, YouTube comments, Twitter and at colleges like Smith, where proving one’s commitment to social justice has become something of a varsity sport. The antidote to that outrage cycle, Professor Ross believes, is “calling in.” Calling in is like calling out, but done privately and with respect. It’s a call out done with love. That may mean simply sending someone a private message, or even ringing them on the telephone (!) to discuss the matter, or simply taking a breath before commenting. Calling out assumes the worst. Calling in involves conversation, compassion and context. It doesn’t mean a person should ignore harm, slight or damage, but nor should she, he or they exaggerate it. New York Times (12 minutes)

Life Skills

Here are three important life skills that you were probably never taught: (1) How to stop taking things personally. We tend to have an inherent bias toward assuming that pretty much everything that happens to us is actually about us. But here’s a newsflash: Just because you experience something, just because something causes you to feel a certain way, just because you care about something, doesn’t mean it’s about you. When people criticize you or reject you, it likely has way more to do with them—their values, their priorities, their life situation—than it does with you. I hate to break it to you, but other people simply don’t think about you that much (after all, they’re too busy trying to believe everything is about them). (2) How to be persuaded to change your mind. You’re going to be wrong a lot in life. In fact, you’re going to be wrong pretty much all of the time. And in many ways, your ability to succeed and learn over the long term is directly proportional to your ability to change what you believe in response to your ignorance and mistakes. (3) How to act without knowing the result. We avoid moving and acting without knowing. And because we cannot act on what we don’t know, our lives become incredibly repetitive and safe. Mark Manson (15 minutes)


The Florida sky had grown dark, and Chris Nikic felt ready to quit. He had been pushing through the grueling race for more than 13 hours, even though he could not navigate the course or keep the time without help. It suddenly became too much. In the hot, humid air, he struggled to breathe. His feet burned as they pounded the pavement, his legs felt like concrete and it seemed as if the muscles in his back had been put through a shredder. Nikic, a 21-year-old who lives with his parents in an Orlando suburb, started the day with determination. If he could overcome the challenge of this race—a 2.4-mile open-water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run—and do it under 17 hours, he would be the first competitor with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. Such a feat would not just put him in the record books. It would also prove to himself and those around him that he could, in fact, do big things. And if he could do big things, then maybe one day he would be able to fulfill his ultimate dream: to live independently and have a wife and a family of his own. Would he make it? The finish line was 16 miles away, but he was breaking down. New York Times (14 minutes)


The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller. Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift and beautiful—irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath. They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice. Amazon

Most Read Last Week

JTBD Framework—Whether you’re a product manager innovating within a larger company, or building a brand new early-stage product at a startup, the Job To Be Done (JTBD) framework works to create better, non-obvious insights about your audience.

Cranberry Harvest—Starting in mid-September, Ocean Spray farmers across the Northeast start hustling to harvest 100 billion cranberries in just six weeks.

Dolly Parton’s America—A podcast series on Dolly Parton.

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 Jason Leung.

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Weekend Wisdom

The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us; we need a few people to love us. Because what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully knownan impossibility both professionally and personally if you’re so busy being likable that you forget to be yourself. Jessica Valenti

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