Weekend Briefing No. 62

Welcome to the weekend. This week Hillary Clinton finally announced her candidacy (and the biggest news seemed to be the outrage about her campaign’s logo) as did Marco Rubio, and Etsy had its IPO.


I have a bunch of events next week, I hope to see you at some of them. If you are in the New York area on Monday, I’ll be moderating a panel about legal and healthcare at the Brooklyn Freelancers Summit. If you’re in Boston come to the Harvard Law Social Entrepreneurship Pitch Event to see what our students have been up to this semester. Lastly, if you happen to be attending Q Boston next weekend come check out my learning community on Saturday about Profit & Purpose.






Does the law allow corporations to pursue social goals over shareholder profits?  This week’s Etsy IPO has resurfaced this question. The New York Times had competing experts weigh in on the subject. A response worth reading is by Lynn Stout. She argues that there is no legal duty to maximize shareholder value. To quote the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the recent Hobby Lobby case: “Modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not.” Learn more in this New York Times op-ed.


The Lawyer that’s taking on the on-demand economy. Shannon Liss-Riordan has filed lawsuits against Uber, Lyft, Homejoy, Postmates, and Try Caviar—five of the largest on-demand start-ups in the world. These suits all boil down to a rather simple allegation: these companies pay the people who supply the equipment and manpower that power their businesses like independent contractors, while burdening them with the work expectations of employees. Learn more in this Fusion article.


Former Massachusetts governor to launch an impact investing fund at Bain Capital. Deval Patrick is joining the Boston investment giant Bain Capital, where the former governor will start a new line of business, directing investments in companies that produce profits but also have a positive impact on social problems – a double bottom line investing strategy. Patrick will be the first African American managing director at Bain Capital. The establishment of this impact fund comes on the heels of Bain Capital taking a stake in TOMS Shoes. These recent moves may signal a push by the firm to be more inclusive and impact driven. Read more in this Boston Globe article.


The seven commandments of funding. Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation came up with 7 commandments for funding in the social sector. They are: 1) Thou shalt fund for impact above all else. 2) Thou shalt not restrict thy funds. 3) Thou shalt feed success with continued investment. 4) Thou shalt not hassle the doers. 5) Thou shalt not worship the god of overhead. 6) Thou shalt not be a doer by proxy. 7) Thou shalt advocate for thy doers. Learn more at Stanford Social Innovation Review.


What organizations do consumers think are most socially responsible?  According to a recent poll by Good.Must.Grow., which asked respondents to name a single company or organization that they consider to be socially responsible. 1 in 3 Americans could not name a single one, but the top 5 responses were: 1) TOMS Shoes 2) Whole Foods 3) Microsoft 4) Starbucks 5) American Red Cross. It’s kind of surprising the top 4 answers were not charities, but companies. It seems Americans are more open to the blending of profit & purpose. Learn more in this Fast Company article.






Taking back Detroit.Hear from the die-hard natives and upbeat newcomers who are re-imagining Detroit, playing out their dreams, or reveling in the once neglected city’s revival in this amazing 3-part interactive piece by National Geographic


IBM’s supercomputer Watson has made a recipe book. The learning machine has taught itself to make several dozen meals.


Coffee limits liver damage. Drinking three or more alcoholic beverages per day increases the likelihood of developing liver cancer, but research now suggests that drinking coffee may help offset that risk. This is very good news for me.






In defense of boredom. I just got off the trail from a 5-day trek in Patagonia. One thing that became abundantly clear to me is that there is very little time in our lives to be bored, and although I’m pretty relentless in my search for productivity, one has to wonder if we are missing the opportunity for deeper thinking, imagining and daydreaming when we push boredom out of our lives. To be bored is to be unafraid of our interior lives — a form of moral courage, central to being fully human. To be bored is to give space for the genesis of game changing concepts. Check out this thought-provoking collection of 200 Years of Ideas on the Virtues of Not-Doing from Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds including: Bertrand Russell, Søren Kierkegaard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Susan Sontag, Adam Phillips, Renata Adler, and more. Curated by the amazing Maria Popova.


The Road to Character. I can’t wait! One of my favorite New York Times columnists and authors, David Brooks, is releasing his new book The Road to Character. Having heard a few talks about the book already, I think it’s going to be his best yet! In The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed. Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. For a little preview, watch his 5 minute TED Talk Should You Live For Your Resume or Your Eulogy?, then go directly to Amazon and pre-order this soon-to-be bestseller.






The Weekend Briefing is a selection of the best stories from around the web about innovation and society curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway & Co.


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Have a restful & thoughtful weekend.