Weekend Briefing No. 384

Welcome to the weekend.

Our firm did a fun thing this week. We built a page featuring our client reviews. I wanted to tell a story with client reviews. What do you think about it? Have you seen other examples of review pages that you love? Reply to this email to let me know your thoughts.

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Prime Numbers

4,000,000,000—Coca-Cola lost $4 billion in market value after Cristiano Ronaldo (Portuguese soccer player) endorsed water.

1,098—A diamond weighing 1,098 carats, believed to be the third largest ever found, has been put on display in Botswana.

5—The perfect number of hours to work every day? 5.

Technology Saves the World

While COVID-19 certainly has been plenty devastating in the U.S. and around the world, with 600K Americans dead of and infected with COVID-19, and with shockingly broad destruction of American small businesses, it has not been nearly as destructive as it could have been. We are coming out of COVID-19 years early, with many livelihoods and businesses preserved, compared to what we had any right to expect. And overwhelming credit goes to our spectacular technology industry. (1) The most amazing COVID-19 technology story has to be the vaccines. Moderna, a product of the American venture capital system, created the first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine within two days of receiving the genetic code for COVID-19 by email. (2) Telemedicine has been technologically viable for two decades, but COVID-19 provided the final push for insurance reimbursement and therefore mass adoption. (3) The most positively shocking development was that virtually all knowledge work in the economy simply kept going. Every knowledge worker went home, fired up their laptops, jumped online (Slack, Zoom, Gmail, Github) and kept on going. Future (8 minutes)

A New Silicon Valley Narrative

Toward the end of the twenty-tens, it became unclear whether the world had been eaten by software or simply paved over. Many of Silicon Valley’s most highly valued companies were platforms that aggregated transactions. Often, this meant that they’d built private, high-margin layers atop real-world processes while externalizing the risks. Tech is facing a new, critical challenge: crafting a revamped image of the techie of the future, one that embraces the great responsibility that arrives with newfound great power. The myth had been distorted; the idealistic, aspirational narratives had not borne out. The industry needed a new story. In Silicon Valley, “disruption” is giving way to “building.” Through networks of wealth and political power, or through storytelling, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors may actually succeed in building transparent, trustworthy institutions and gleaming, functional infrastructure. And yet, amid the updated rhetoric, it can be easy to forget that venture-funded companies have always been trying to envision banks, health-care systems, schools, postal systems and newspapers of the future. To date, they have been only somewhat successful—and sometimes destructive. “Building” would be a new story. But it might not be new enough. New Yorker (16  minutes)

#clientbrag

This week, Mackensie Scott donated $2.7 billion to a number of organizations. She said, “Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” I was excited to see our client Third Sector, who works with federal, state and local governments to transform public systems and advance improved and equitable outcomes. I’m so proud of the work they are doing and excited about this support for their important work. Third Sector (3 minutes)

Startup Mental Game

NFX just released helpful mental models for startup founders. Here are some I particularly liked: (1) The 11 of 13 Rule. There are 13 ways of doing anything. Eleven of them will work. Just pick one and do it. The best founders avoid over-analyzing. At a startup, you don’t have time—and the result will most likely be marginal. Pick a way, and do it. Be consistently decisive. (2) Paradox of Genius. Great Founders are rooted in the here and now but are also obsessed with what will endure 10 or 50 years from now. If you can somehow operate on a longer-term perspective, you have an advantage because nearly everyone else is completely short-sighted. (3) Rule violation. Great founders do not study rules so they can follow them. They master the rules so they can break them. Your highest leverage is studying “best practices” as a starting point while spending much more time on the psychology behind rule violation. NFX (22 minutes)

How to Be Good Managers

Here are some tactical tips to grow as a manager: (1) Great managers demonstrate self-awareness and empathy by sharing their working style preferences and development areas. This should include their work styles, expectations of their directs, values and motivations, areas of feedback they are working on, and decision-making preferences. (2) “I trust you, make the call” might be the six most powerful words you can hear from a supervisor. (3) The best managers I’ve worked with always make the time to talk to you, no matter how busy they are. They realize that five or 10 minutes invested immediately not only addresses the topic in question, but it also shows the employee that their needs are a priority. (4) Early on, my manager told me, “I don’t want you to mess up. But if you mess up, I will have your back.” This instilled in me that my manager trusted my decisions, was willing to help me through potential failure and subtly applied pressure to live up to that trust. First Round Review (18 minutes)

The Picasso Principle

Picasso created 50K works of art in his life. He used to paint till 2 a.m. “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary,” Pablo Picasso said. That mindset can set you up to become a better version of your creative self every day for a very long time. How do prolific creators maintain their momentum for so long? They commit an insane amount of time to their craft. Prolific output demands deliberate practice for as long as possible. There is no way around it. It requires you to create, design, produce, invent, code, draw, write or publish daily or weekly. That’s how you become better. Given time, the brain connects ideas better to help you do your best work and deliver outstanding results over time. If you stay prolific, your creative efforts will pay off. Insanely great creative people are good at sustaining effort for a very long time to get what they want. They structure their day to support their prolific lifestyle. Quantity is the most predictable path to quality. Personal Growth (8 minutes)

Sleeping Bees

Have you ever thought about how or when insects sleep? Because they are buzzing around at all times of the day, you might not have given it any thought. But as nature photographer Joe Neely shows, bees do, in fact, go to sleep. He captured an adorable photo of two globe mallow bees napping in a colorful globe mallow flower. The creatures, covered in pollen, are snuggled together in the center of the orange-crimson bloom in a scene that is almost too perfect to be real. Check out this photo. My Modern Met (2 minutes)

Bookshelf

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known—and feared—as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence. And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty. Amazon

Most Read Last Week

What is Ethereum?—Ethereum is so many things at once, all of which feed off of each other. Ethereum, the blockchain, is a world computer, the backbone of a decentralized internet (web3) and the settlement layer for web3.

Mind’s Eye—Researchers at Kyoto University have leveraged breakthroughs in deep learning and generative networks to create digital photographs from what a person visualizes, transforming these images at up to 99% accuracy.

Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy—There was a golden era when young urban professionals were living kings and queens on the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy, which is what I like to call the period from roughly 2012 through early 2020, when many of the daily activities of big-city 20- and 30-somethings were quietly underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

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 Theme Inn.

Should We Work Together?

This newsletter is my passion project. I hope it helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to create meaningful impact in the world. Many readers have asked about how we can work together. In case you’re interested, I run a law firm for startups. We try to keep things simple by offering transparent flat fees. We structure our engagements in two ways: (1) Per-project flat fee engagements—No billable hour means no surprise legal bills. (2) General Counsel—A simple monthly fee for all your day-to-day legal needs. It was recently recognized as one of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.

Weekend Wisdom

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” –Blaise Pascal

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