Weekend Briefing No. 94

Welcome to the weekend. In this week of Thanksgiving, I find myself being grateful for you. I love writing (well… really curating) the Weekend Briefing for you every week. And for some reason, you continue to keep opening it up and reading (and apparently sharing with your friends because the subscriber list keeps growing). I just wanted to say thanks. So, thanks.


Burma’s historic election was powered by Facebook. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party rode into power due in part to Facebook’s startling rise. In 2011, there were 0 Facebook users, now there are 6.4 million in a country of 50 million. That’s because television, print and remain firmly under state control. Facebook has given the opposition a crucial way of closing the gap. For most Burmese, when they say the internet, they mean Facebook. Htay Aung, 29, a fishmonger who works at an open-air market in Rangoon’s Insein district, accesses Facebook through his Huawei smartphone. Asked whether he’s ever used Google, he shakes his head with a smile. “I use my phone to make calls and to look at Facebook,” he says. Learn more in Foreign Policy.

Radical Candor. Kim Scott has built her career around a simple goal: Creating bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together. Radical candor is HHIPP: “Radical candor is humble, it’s helpful, it’s immediate, it’s in person — in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise — and it doesn’t personalize.” That last P makes a key distinction: “My boss didn’t say, ‘You’re stupid.’ She said, ‘You sounded stupid when you said um.’ There’s a big difference between the two.” Learn more and watch Kim’s 20 minute presentation on First Round Review.

Everlane’s Black Friday gift. The Everlane oxford is my daily uniform. I’m literally wearing one as I type this. So, I was interested to hear that they were doing something different for Black Friday. Nothing will be on sale, but all of the profits will go directly to help the workers who sew T-shirts in the company’s L.A. factory. The company hopes to raise $100,000 through its Black Friday Fund to create a new wellness program for factory workers, offering on-site health care, free food, and English classes. For food, instead of offering free lunches like you might find at Google, they’ve recognized that workers tend to bring lunches from home, so they’ll be offering free groceries instead. Learn more at Fast Company.

Blue Origin sticks the landing. It’s one thing to launch a rocket, it’s another thing to launch it into space and land it safely back on earth. That’s what Jeff Bezos’s private space company, Blue Origins, did this week. It was a historic event and will take us closer to commercial space travel because it will lower the cost drastically. Watch this CNET video to learn more. Thanks to my dad, Barry Westaway, for sharing this with me. 

Unilever’s sustainability journey. Not only does the Unilever sustainable living plan pledge to cut the company’s environmental impact in half by 2020, it also vows to improve the health of one billion people and enhance livelihoods for millions, all while doubling Unilever’s sales. Unilever’s factories are emitting 37 percent less emissions than in 2008, even while producing more goods. Waste going to landfills is down 85 percent. Those things please environmentalists, while shareholders are happy that revenue is up 22 percent since Mr. Polman took over. If Unilever can achieve its goals, it would have unlinked economic growth from resource consumption. But the journey is messy and the outcomes are in doubt. Many questions are raised along the way, such as the very definition of the word “sustainable.” Learn more in the New York Times.


Is going public worth it? The Andreessen Horowitz team discuss how to make sense of the recent Square IPO reactions. And more broadly, how to compare private vs. public valuations and investors. Is there a method to the madness, a formula to compare these from beginning to end (please say it’s so)? Listen to a16z podcast.


A Thanksgiving miracle. The Thanksgiving can be frought with family drama. Thankfully, Adele can save the day.


What’s your favorite side dish? Let’s peel apart this holiday and carve this nation up into factions like a bargain-bin bird. Who eats what where? FiveThirtyEight breaks down favorite Thanksgiving side dishes by region of the country.

Oliver Sachs on Gratitude. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Read more at Brain Pickings.


The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.