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Weekend Briefing No. 135
Welcome To The Weekend
This week the Catholic Church made Mother Teresa a saint. The US Senate blocked funding to combat Zika. The Democrats refused to back the $1.1 billion package to help fight the Zika virus as it cut money from the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood group. And, of course, Apple launched the iPhone 7. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, and the entire internet flipped out. Shares in Nintendo soared by 18% in Tokyo after it announced a version of Super Mario for iPhone at Apple’s launch event.
Power Of The Plateau
Everybody is seeking exponential growth, but that sort of growth can only be sustained so long. For years I’ve been kicking around the idea of growth as a stair-step approach to growth where a company purposefully plateaus its growth for a time to invest in infrastructure for future growth. That’s exactly what LEGO did this year. The 67-year-old Danish toymaker (which has seen revenue increase by an average of 15% a year for the past 12 years) aggressively scaled back its advertising efforts last year because demand was simply too high. As CFO John Goodwin puts it, “We are of course excited about [LEGO’s success], but the high demand also puts a strain on our factories… We feel we need to invest, to build some breathing space.” Learn more at The Hustle (3 minutes).
Finding God In The Waves
I’ve had a chance to get my hands on an advance copy of my friend Mike’s new book, and I’m digging it. "Science Mike” (as he’s known in his hugely popular podcast) draws on his personal experience to tell the unlikely story of how science dismantled his faith, then surprisingly led him back to it. Among other revelations, we learn what brain scans reveal about what happens when we pray; how fundamentalism affects the psyche; and how God is revealed not only in scripture, but in the night sky, in subatomic particles, and in us. This is a book for the faithful and skeptic alike. Buy it now at Amazon (hours of enjoyment).
Bees buzz during courtship, or out of alarm if they are caught or trapped. Another reason is to collect pollen. Some flowering plants hide their pollen in structures called anthers, and to get it, bumble bees (and other bees) bite the anthers and then hang on and buzz until the vibration causes the anther to spill out a shower of pollen. The process is called sonication, or buzz pollination. Watch this video at the New York Times (2 minutes.)
There’s often a big gap between changing the world and convincing people that you changed the world. Things that are instantly adored are usually just slight variations over existing products. We love them because they’re familiar. The most innovative products – the ones that truly change the world – are almost never understood at first, even by really smart people. It happened with the telephone, airplane and the automobile. Big breakthroughs typically follow a seven-step path: 1) First, no one’s heard of you. 2) Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts. 3) Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity. 4) Then they view your product as a toy. 5) Then they see it as an amazing toy. 6) Then they start using it. 7) Then they couldn’t imagine life without it. Learn more at the Collaborative Fund (6 minutes).
How The World Ends (According to NASA)
A NASA study uncovers two important features which seem to appear across societies that have collapsed. The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses. In unequal societies, collapse is difficult to avoid. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. Learn more at The Atlantic (4 minutes).
Hire Bold Failures
Bezos hired former Webvan executives to run AmazonFresh. He didn't just hire the guys who failed, he hired the guys who failed big. But, because they got it so wrong, they took away the deepest learnings from their experience. Conventionally successful people are often those who’ve played it safe and haven’t tried to innovate. Hire people who’ve failed at doing something bold, because they’re the only ones who’ll succeed at something bold. Learn more at Entrepreneur (4 minutes).
How To Solve Problems
Thomas Hall had quit canoe racing because it was time. Though he never expected it, he missed the simplicity it brought his life. He never had to search for a goal; it was always clear. He had to be better, to win the next competition. It had been eight years since Thomas Hall had stood on the Olympic podium and four since his last race, and he had hated what he’d become. He had gone from an Olympian—confident, gifted, and fit—to an overweight insomniac with no direction. Outwardly, he was still functional, but increasingly these moments were undermined by waves of anxiety and jealousy at others’ seemingly complete lives. Learn more about his story at Walrus (9 minutes).
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