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Weekend Briefing No. 316
Welcome to the Weekend.
I don’t have a lot of friends that are authors, but this week 2 of them released books, so I’ll cover one this week then one next. I’m starting with Designing Your Work Life (see bookshelf section below for description). I blew through this in about 36 hours. It’s such a great practical resource that teaches us how to transform our work lives and create a dream job that is meaningful (without necessarily changing the job we have).
Housekeeping note: I’m testing a new section at the bottom which will highlight the most read articles from the previous weekend’s briefing. Let me know what you think. Thanks.
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79– Streaming now accounts for fully 79 percent of the overall revenue for the music business.
38– 9th graders are 38 percent less likely to have tried smoking a cigarette now than in 2000. There’s also big drop-offs in sex, weed, TV, etc. Perhaps Fortnite is the anti-weed, anti-sex, anti-TV, anti-alcohol, anti-smoking solution parents have been seeking for decades.
15– 15 percent of Apple’s revenue is from China, so they’ve issued a revenue warning since the Chinese market is being so impacted by coronavirus.
Over the past decade, technology start-ups grew so quickly that they couldn’t hire people fast enough. Now the layoffs have started coming in droves. Last month, the robot pizza start-up Zume and the car-sharing company Getaround slashed more than 500 jobs. Then the DNA testing company 23andMe, the logistics start-up Flexport, the Firefox maker Mozilla and the question-and-answer website Quora did their own cuts. “It feels like a reckoning is here,” said Josh Wolfe, a venture capitalist at Lux Capital in New York. It’s a humbling shift for an industry that long saw itself as an engine of job creation and innovation, producing the ride-hailing giant Uber, the hospitality company Airbnb and other now well-known brands that often disrupted entrenched industries. New York Times (10 minutes)
Or Maybe Not?
After WeWork exploded there was — at least supposedly — a change in sentiment among investors and founders alike. Gone were the days of easy nine-figure rounds, expensive growth, negative unit economics and the rest of the excess that Startupland has enjoyed over the past half-decade. Surely this downturn will tamper the irrational exuberance and venture capitalists and entrepreneurs would change their behavior inside this new paradigm?But by some measures, they haven’t. Q4 of 2019 recorded the highest average and median price increases in the last 16 years. Up rounds exceeded down rounds 84% to 5%. The average price of a round increased 142%. See the full report on Q4 of VC financings. Fenwick & West (4 minutes)
Don’t believe your car’s lying eyes. Hackers have manipulated multiple Tesla cars into speeding up by 50 miles per hour. The researchers fooled the car’s Mobileye EyeQ3 camera system by subtly altering a speed limit sign on the side of a road in a way that a person driving by would almost never notice. Mobileye EyeQ3 camera systems read speed limit signs and feed that information into autonomous driving features like Tesla’s automatic cruise control. The researchers stuck a tiny and nearly imperceptible sticker on a speed limit sign. The camera read the sign as 85 instead of 35, and in testing, both the 2016 Tesla Model X and that year’s Model S sped up 50 miles per hour. MIT Technology Review (5 minutes)
JPMorgan & Climate
Under pressure from investors and activists, the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels will quit funding new oil and gas developments in the Arctic and impose new restrictions on financing coal companies. The policy, unveiled this week by Jamie Dimon at the bank’s investor meeting, puts JPMorgan Chase on par with Goldman Sachs, which announced a similar policy in December. JPMorgan economists are warning of potential “catastrophic outcomes” and threats to “human life as we know it” in a climate change report that was leaked last week. Activists are calling for even bolder action, namely a ban on new fossil fuel funding. JPMorgan’s fossil-fuel financing totaled $196 billion in the three years after the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, according to RAN’s “Banking on Climate Change” report. But like this month’s reversal by BP, Dimon’s effort to go from laggard to leader will put pressure on other CEOs (see, “Net-zero pledges by BP’s new chief raise the stakes for oil majors”). Impact Alpha (8 minutes)
Prepping for Parenthood
Is there any way to emotionally prepare for parenthood? While the adage that “nothing can prepare you for parenthood” is mostly true, there are some things you can do to get into the right headspace before you have kids. (1) Manage your expectations; let go of the idealized image of parenthood and/or birth. (2) Connect with your partner (if you have one) during pregnancy and prepare for a potentially tough first year. (3) Overestimate recovery time. It may not be easy to “snap back” from birth in mere weeks; it can actually take up to a year to fully recover. (4) Sleep is important! Try to plan a way to get a decent amount of rest, enlisting help from family and friends if needed. (5) Social support can help normalize emotions; connect with other new parents through existing relationships, internet groups, classes or playgroups. Take time to see friends and pursue passions or hobbies to help retain a sense of self. New York Times (11 minutes)
A little over a year ago Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison completed the first ski descent of the 27,940-foot Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, which is right next to Mount Everest. On September 30, 2018, they skied the Lhotse Couloir from the mountain’s summit (8516m) down to Everest second camp (6400m) and this film perfectly tells what is an amazing story of human endeavor achievement. This film is a story of pushing the limits and being present in the moment. It’s also about a couple working together to achieve their goal. Of course, it’s incredibly scenic. YouTube (23 minutes)
Here are the winners of this year’s underwater photography contest. Because… pretty pictures. The Atlantic (5 minutes)
Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In Designing Your Work Life, Burnett and Evans show us how design thinking can transform our present job and our experience of work in general by utilizing the designer mindsets: Curiosity. Reframing. Radical collaboration. Awareness. Bias to action. Storytelling. Burnett and Evans show us how, with tools, tips, and ideas, to enjoy what we have and to live in a state of "good enough, for now," one of the strongest, most effective reframes there is, and how this idea, once understood and accepted, can make new possibilities available, giving us the energy to enjoy the present moment and allowing us to begin to prototype possible futures. And if we want to quit? Burnett and Evans show us how to use the job we have to get the job we want (in another company), and show us as well, the art and science of quitting (leave the campsite better than we found it), using the power of the quit design to reframe how we finish our current job and get a better one.They write, as well, about how the work world is changing as the automation of work increases (hello Alexa, artificial intelligence, drones, and robots); how thinking like a designer can make us flexible, and ready to adapt to change. Amazon
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Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works. - Steve Jobs
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