Weekend Briefing No. 416

Welcome to the weekend.

Did your brilliant friend forward this to you? Subscribe here.

Prime Numbers

$80K—Previous research has indicated that money stops buying happiness after $75K per year. However, new research finds a strong correlation between income and happiness, trending upward even after $80K per year.

205—The average U.S. yield for corn was 177 bushels per acre, up 3.3% over the previous year and a record high, with 16 states posting state records in output, and Iowa itself cranking out an eye-watering average of 205 bushels of corn per acre.

68—As of 2009, a black male in America has a 26.8% chance of being incarcerated at least once in his life. If he doesn’t have a high school degree, the chances increase to 68%.

Social Sector and Web3

How can the social sector (nonprofits, philanthropists, activists, social enterprises, impact investors, etc.) leverage Web3 technologies? A friend of mine Banks Benitez just released a white paper trying to answer that question. Here are some ideas: 1) Nonprofits should accepting cryptocurrencies. 2) Social sector organizations can capture and retain value by issuing and transacting digital assets (like non-fungible tokens, or NFTs). 3) Use decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as a participatory fundraising model. (4) Implement new models of organizing, ownership, and activism through DAOs and other on-chain communities. (5) Leverage new models of organizing, ownership, and activism through DAOs and other on-chain communities to address issues like wealth inequality. Banks Benitez (26 minutes)

Building a Startup Brand

The Marketing Expert in Residence at First Round has helped shape hundreds of startup brands. Working with hundreds of brands has cemented the importance of focusing on the fundamentals of your purpose, positioning and personality early on. Here are five mistakes you need to avoid when building a startup brand. 1) Skipping the fundamentals and diving into tactics. 2) Overcomplicating your purpose. 3) Not carefully considering your category. 4) Being focused on the wrong foil. Hint: The real foil is often the status quo, not your competitor. 5) Emphasizing emotional rather than functional benefits. First Round Review (24 minutes)

Add 10% to Your Bottom Line

Companies lose an average of ~10% of their bottom line through ineffective contract management. Why? Many remain wedded to outdated manual contract systems. Dates and terms are tracked via spreadsheet (maybe), and contracts are all over the place (network drives, individual drives, email). The results: lost time tracking down contracts and key clauses; missed renewal and payment dates; and difficulty collaborating and reporting. But you can turn yesterday’s spreadsheets and shared drives into today’s smart contract management. ContractSafe, an SaaS contract management solution powered with artificial intelligence (AI), makes it super easy to keep all of your important documents and information at your fingertips. Find any contract or provision in seconds. Enjoy full date tracking with email reminders so you never miss another deadline. Add users with a couple of clicks, and easily create reports. Interested? See ContractSafe’s award-winning, ease-of-use solution for yourself by booking a demo today. ContractSafe (Sponsored)

Netflix for Drinks

Could it be possible to create a machine that could synthesize any drink in their home at the press of a button? It sounds like something from SciFi. But apparently it’s real, and it’s called the “molecular drink printer.” The device, described as the “Netflix for drinks,” uses a single cartridge filled with flavor compounds that can make a nearly infinite number of drinks from a few core flavor compounds. It can do this across many existing beverage categories—juice, soda, hard seltzer, cocktails, wine, tea, coffee and beer. Consumer taste testing panels score the “printed” beverages at the same or better taste levels as commercially available alternatives. The hardware designs will print beverages quickly and accurately. The goal is for the pricing and the footprint of the hardware to yield significant savings and advantages for most households. The Spoon (5 minutes)

Circus and TikTok

In the 19th and early 20th century, the circus was the premiere form of American entertainment. Over time, the circus slowly became less relevant, with radio, television and other forms of entertainment taking precedence. While the American circus is in serious decline, performers are thriving on TikTok, where the hashtag #circus has 4.2 billion views. When the pandemic hit in 2020, circus artists, unable to perform, were ready to dazzle folks on TikTok. TikTok’s own culture, which celebrates the unusual, has helped circus performers thrive. People that feel like they’re totally different go online. They see somebody else who definitely is different, and it becomes a space where they can feel a little more accepted being weird and goofy. Input (9 minutes)

Old Music Is Killing New Music

Old songs now represent 70% of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures, trembling with fear. But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs. Investment firms are getting into bidding wars to buy publishing catalogs from aging rock and pop stars. The song catalogs in most demand are by musicians who are in their 70s or 80s (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen) or already dead (David Bowie, James Brown). Even major record labels are participating in the rush to old music: Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and others are buying up publishing catalogs and investing huge sums in old tunes. In a previous time, that money would have been used to launch new artists. The Atlantic (13 minutes)

U2 Live in London

The thing I’ve been missing most through the prolonged pandemic is concerts (and of course karaoke). I keep checking the website of my favorite band U2. At this point, I think I’ll fly anywhere to see them when they hit the road again. Until then, this beautiful concert for the BBC at Abbey Road studio in London will have to do. It’s an intimate set backed by a full orchestra. Enjoy. BBC (52 minutes)

Bookshelf

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Viktor Frankl’s riveting account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps, and his insightful exploration of the human will to find meaning in spite of the worst adversity, has offered solace and guidance to generations of readers since it was first published in 1946. At the heart of Frankl’s theory of logotherapy (from the Greek word for “meaning”) is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. Today, as new generations face new challenges and an ever-more complex and uncertain world, Frankl’s classic work continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living, in spite of all obstacles. Buy Now

Most Read Last Week

Habits in the Age of Technology—Digital technologies have dissolved the structure of the workweek, and further collapsed the distinctions between public and private life. Could habits help?

Can’t Help Myself—In artwork commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum called Can’t Help Myself, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu designed a robotic arm that is designed to keep a blood-colored liquid from straying too far away.

52 Places—Got the travel bug? The New York Times annual list of destinations to visit this year looks at spots where visitors can be part of the solution to problems like overtourism and climate change, plus some beautiful photography.

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 Mitchell Luo.

Should We Work Together?

This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. 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

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.Vicktor Frankl

Did your brilliant friend forward this to you? Subscribe here.