Weekend Briefing No. 429

Welcome to the weekend.

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

Prime Numbers

56%—In 2020, 56% of deceased Americans were cremated.

11.3%—Nationally, rents rose a record 11.3% last year.

$4 trillion—Exxon Mobil estimates there will be a $4 trillion market by 2050 for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground, the company said in a presentation on Tuesday.

United States of Babel

The story of Babel is the best metaphor for what happened to America in the 2010s and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past. It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics and American history. But Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums and even families. Babel is a metaphor for what some forms of social media have done to nearly all of the groups and institutions most important to the country’s future—and to us as a people. How did this happen? And what does it portend for American life? The Atlantic (39 minutes)

Effective Questions

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and effectively break down an issue in order to make a decision or find a solution. At the heart of critical thinking is the ability to formulate deep, different and effective questions. For effective questioning, start by holding your hypotheses loosely. Be willing to fundamentally reconsider your initial conclusions—and do so without defensiveness. Second, listen more than you talk through active listening. Third, leave your queries open-ended, and avoid yes-or-no questions. Fourth, consider the counterintuitive to avoid falling into groupthink. Fifth, take the time to stew in a problem rather than making decisions unnecessarily quickly. Last, ask thoughtful, even difficult, follow-ups. Harvard Business Review (7 minutes)

$900 Billion Prediction

Deloitte’s analysts predicted a tsunami of capital will flow into an unexpected asset class by 2026. How much? Try $900 billion. And it’s already begun. Ultra-wealthy investors just poured over $150 billion into it. This alternative isn’t bitcoin or anything digital; it’s real art. Since 1995, contemporary art prices have increased nearly three times more than the S&P 500. This explains why so much smart money is moving into this asset class like never before. But experts never expected a tech company would be at the center of it all. In the past, you could only buy shares of companies like Apple and Tesla, but with this art investing app valued at $1 billion, you can unlock this powerful investment. Now you can invest in million-dollar works of art for a fraction of the cost. In fact, hundreds of Weekend Briefing (WB) readers have signed up to invest in Picassos, Warhols and Basquiats. Join them today with my exclusive WB link. Masterworks (Sponsored)

#clientbrag

There is nothing in this world that connects us more to ourselves and our community than music. As live music prices increase due to production costs, inflation and venue closures, it’s never been more important, as citizens and music lovers, to play an active role on how culture is created and how talent and music is discovered. So, as we think about the future, how do we become curators of culture and music discovery while building relationships that endure the test of time? My friend and client Beatriz Ayala-Muñiz is the ultimate connector of people, experiences and ideas. A community enabler, Bea is the founder and CEO of Musicasa, a Techstars Music company, creating a community-powered marketplace connecting music lovers through highly personal home concerts. Check out her TEDx Talk entitled Why Music is the Mirror of your Life and Relationships. TED (16 minutes)

Personality and Wealth

A recent study used representative survey data to construct two large samples, one from the general population and one consisting of individuals with at least 1 million euros in individual net wealth, to analyze what personality traits characterize the wealthy and why their traits differ from those of the general population. High wealth was associated with higher risk tolerance, emotional stability, openness, extraversion and conscientiousness. This “rich” personality profile was more prominent among individuals who had accumulated wealth through their own efforts (“self-made”) than among individuals who had been born into wealth (“inheritor”). So, the study suggests a unique configuration of personality traits contributing to self-made millionaires’ economic success. Nature (18 minutes)

U.S.S. Indianapolis

In the final weeks of World War II, the Navy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis was attacked and sunk by a Japanese submarine in the middle of the Philippine Sea. The 900 survivors found themselves stranded in the middle of the open ocean, many without rafts or life vests, wondering when—or if—help was coming. This is the story of the greatest sea disaster in U.S. naval history and the courageous men who survived it. Check out this three-part podcast series. Wondery (42 minutes)

Quality Time

This is a really cool animated visualization about who we spend time with at different points in life. My takeaway: Marry someone you like spending time with. On the whole, the trends make sense. In our younger years, we spend a lot of time with our parents and siblings. By middle age, work takes a lot of time and we see co-workers on the regular. Time with the kids peaks in the late 30s and early 40s. Flowing Data (4 minutes)

Bookshelf

The Every by Dave Eggars. Delaney Wells is an unlikely new hire at The Every. A former forest ranger and unwavering tech skeptic, she charms her way into an entry-level job with one goal in mind: to take down the company from within. With her compatriot, the not-at-all-ambitious Wes Makazian, they look for the Every’s weaknesses, hoping to free humanity from all-encompassing surveillance and the emoji-driven infantilization of the species. But does anyone want what Delaney is fighting to save? Does humanity truly want to be free? Buy Now

Most Read Last Week

Fly-Through—This drone fly-through of Tesla’s new factory in Berlin is amazing.

Care Economy—Welcome to the $648 billion care economy—the money we spend to care for our loved ones, from their first breath to their last.

Science v. God—Many people perceive the struggle to understand our universe as a battle between science and God. But this is a false dichotomy.

Weekend Briefing

The Weekend Briefing is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Meriç Dağlı.

Funding Fridays

In addition to the Weekend Briefing, I write a monthly briefing on startup funding called Funding Fridays. I review the startup funding deals from the past month and deliver a concise summary to you on the first Friday of every month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.

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

I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.Walt Disney

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