Weekend Briefing No. 410

Welcome to the weekend.

Hola from Costa Rica! Are there any Weekend Briefing readers in Santa Teresa? If so, shoot me a note. I’d love to grab a beer with you.

Also, I wanted to let you in early on an exciting new email for entrepreneurs that I’m launching next year called Funding Fridays. My goal is to clearly and concisely communicate the state of venture funding from Pre-Seed through Series C in about 2 minutes. I hope that Funding Fridays will equip founders with accurate real-time market data to make smart decisions their next round of funding. If this sounds interesting, click here to sign up for Funding Fridays.   

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Prime Numbers

200K—Ford has stopped taking reservations for the hotly awaited F-150 Lightning, the forthcoming electric pickup. The company has collected 200K of the deposits on the $40K pickup.

29—A new edition of the annual religion survey from Pew Research Center found that the percentage of U.S. adults who do not have a religion has hit 29%, a slight increase over last year and nearly double the 16% seen in the 2007 edition.

21—The fastest-growing sport in the United States is pickleball, the paddle sport that combines ping pong and badminton. Last year, around 4.2 million people played the sport, which was up 21% over 2019.

Opal

My latest Forbes article is about a hot new startup disrupting the webcam. We live in a world where every digital image of ourselves has been edited before we present it to the world. When we post pictures of vacations on Instagram to our friends, they’re perfect. But when we log onto Zoom for our professional lives, we’re generally stuck with low-quality webcams unless we want to spend thousands on a professional studio setup with a DSLR camera and a podcast microphone.  A new hardware startup Opal just launched the Opal C1 to solve this problem. I’ve tried it myself and I think it is probably 90% as good as a $5K DSLR studio setup for less than 1/10th of the price with a much more user-friendly setup and operation. Forbes (8 minutes)

The Future

Benedict Evans just released his annual report on the future of tech. There’s too much great content in there, so you should definitely dive into all 88 slides. One major theme is Web3 = Open Source 2.0. Open source changed how code is written. Web3 tries to change where it runs. Like open source and the early days of the internet, Web3 is a tech movement with an almost religious fervor and principles, including a number of paradigm shifts like: closed and centralized to open and decentralized; and companies make money to users make money. But what are people doing with Web3? (1) Store of value. Cryptocurrency as a hedge against inflation seems to be gaining more traction. (2) NFTs. “Cultural Value” can create financial value. Ben Evans (40 minutes)

The Hottest Investing App for 2022

A new app is taking the investing world by storm. This app gives you access to an exclusive asset class typically reserved for the 1%. This asset class is worth over $1.7 trillion, two times bigger than bitcoin’s market cap, according to Goldman Sachs. It has almost no correlation to public equities, and it outpaced the S&P 500 index over the last 25 years. What is this asset class? Surprisingly, Blue-chip art. But diversifying with art arguably costs $100 million. That’s where  Masterworks comes in. This hot investing app founded by Columbia, Harvard and Stanford alumni lets you invest in the same paintings collected by billionaires. Investors have seen more than a 30% price appreciation from 2020 and 2021, respectively. I’ve partnered with Masterworks to let Weekend Briefing readers jump the waitlist and join their 280K users with my private link. Masterworks (Sponsored)

193 Stories

This beautiful interactive, multimedia piece by the New York Times, vividly displays how climate change is impacting 193 countries. (1) Netherlands. Skating the canals in Amsterdam has been a winter tradition for hundreds of years. But in the last decade, the canals have only frozen three times. (2) Senegal. Three months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in September 2020, leaving Dakar sunk under algae covered water. (3) Tanzania. Wildfires are breaking out on Mt. Kilimanjaro. (4) Kuwait. The temperature in Nuwaiseeb reached 127.7 degrees Fahrenheit. (5) Switzerland. The warming temperatures are melting the ice and snow pack that holds the mountains together, so now the Swiss Alps are increasingly crumbling. New York Times (32 minutes)

Early-Stage Board Meetings

Don’t wait until your Series A or B to take board meetings seriously. Start with principles on day one, keep things short and focused, and expand over time. Here are some tips: (1) Company-board member fit—As you scale, who you will recruit depends on the expertise of the founders and investors. Map out the key areas in your business where you need to absolutely excel to be successful, and ensure you have a board member who can speak with authority on critical opportunities for the business. (2) Flip the board meeting—Many CEOs feel the need to use these meetings to justify their role on the board and explain the great job they’re doing. That’s a mistake. Spend 30% of the meeting on updates, and 70% on key forks in the road, operational challenges, strategy, competitive dynamics and organizational issues. (3) Short and frequent is usually better than long and infrequent. (4) Only the paranoid survive. It’s critical at all stages to talk about the negatives more than might be comfortable. You’ll have a feeling of wanting to give the presentation through rose-tinted glasses, but give equal or more weight to the negative. (5) Expose the board to your team and vice versa. (6) Find your business equation. Your “business equation” is the key levers and interplay between operational and financial metrics that gave us scale and success. It’s like a shorthand for your company’s health that everyone can see and understand quickly. NFX (12 minutes)

Polarizing Conversations

Conversations on polarizing topics are possible. If you’re up for it, here’s how to start. (1) Ditch the deficit model, and approach conversations with the other person’s background in mind. Scientists have traditionally defaulted to a “deficit model” for communicating science. The assumption is that people don’t trust the science on a certain topic because they don’t yet know enough about it. The solution? Simply tell people the facts, thereby remedying their knowledge deficit, and increasing their support for scientific ideas and practices. Unfortunately for scientists, the deficit model has proven time and again to be faulty. Past experiences and cultural and religious identity shape how people interact with facts, and in some cases, have a greater influence in shaping the opinions of people on controversial topics than actual knowledge about the topic. (2) Use personal stories to increase the potential for changing opinions. Using narratives to make points instead of arguments is more likely to create long-lasting changes in opinions: Narratives are not seen as manipulative and are less threatening to self-identity than arguments. Being nonjudgmental also decreases defensiveness and allows people to be more open to alternative viewpoints. (3) Actively listen and acknowledge the views and feelings of the other person. Active listening is one of the most important tools for a productive conversation. This conversation strategy involves a variety of verbal and nonverbal cues used during conversations, such as restating comments, asking relevant questions and demonstrating your attention. Asking open-ended questions in particular will keep the conversation flowing and allow the other person to open up about themselves and their feelings. Behavioral Scientist (9 minutes)

14 Peaks

Fearless Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8K meter peaks in seven months. The last successful attempt was in seven years. I’ve been looking forward to the release of this documentary, and I finally watched it last night. It’s such an incredibly compelling story. Check it out. Netflix (101 minutes)

Bookshelf

A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell. In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and—despite her prosthetic leg—helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it. Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war. Buy Now

Most Read Last Week

How to Be Successful—Sam Altman has observed thousands of founders from his time at Y Combinator. He has 13 thoughts on being successful.

Ladder of Proof—Venture Capitalists have a mental framework that lets them judge a startup based on a core group of predictors for risk and success that we call the “Ladder of Proof.

Pricing and Psychology—Pricing is one of the most powerful yet under-appreciated levers in business. Good pricing has the power to increase customer lifetime value, make unprofitable businesses thrive and completely change brand perception.

About the Weekend Briefing

This is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Daniel Born.

Should We Work Together?

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Weekend Wisdom

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”  Thomas Sowell

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