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Weekend Briefing No. 320
Welcome to the weekend. I hope you are enjoying time with your family and staying sane. We had a wonderful happy hour discussing the briefing last Saturday, so we’re going to do it again tonight over Zoom at 5:00 PM ET. If you want to join the conversation with me and other Weekend Briefing readers sign up here.
We had 34 people participate in last week’s Kindness Challenge. See what happened in the Kindness Challenge section below.
I’m working on getting a clear understanding of how the COVID-19 is impacting startups / small business. My research includes legal – labor, contract, funding, governance, etc. – as well as the stimulus funding. As I put this together, I’m curious what questions you have. Click here to ask your questions.
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66.85– Coal is the dirtiest, and also historically the cheapest energy source, but owing to a total collapse in the oil market, coal stands as the world’s most expensive fossil fuel on an energy-equivalent basis. Australian Newcastle Coal traded at $66.85 per ton on Friday, which is the energy equivalent of a $27.36 priced barrel of oil. Brent Crude Oil Futures ended at $26.98 per barrel.
73.1 – In the week ending March 15 Americans spent $890.6 million on fresh beef, which is $376 million higher than the same week of 2019, a 73.1 percent bump. Turns out I’m not the only one buying beef.
300– Estimates that demand for electricity in New York City and San Francisco is down by 300 megawatts to 600 megawatts since residents were ordered to shelter in place. That’s about the equivalent of a mid-sized gas power plant.
Nonprofit Survival Guide
My friend Viktoria Harrison served as the Chief Creative Officer at charity: water. She now specializes in storytelling, marketing and branding for purpose-driven startups. This week she released a beautiful 32 page guide to non-profit survival. I’d highly recommend checking it out. It covers: (1) How to lead well right now. Stay calm and lead with competence and trust. (2) How to talk to your donors right now. Provide value and make asks with caution. Go above and beyond to show compassion. (3) Where to find savings right now. Where to find savings in your budget. Three OPEX scenarios to model right now. (4) How to find growth opportunities in this season. Ideas for digitally connecting & innovating. The opportunities that come with social distancing, slimming down and other constraints. The Branded Startup (35 minutes)
Entrepreneur Emergency Funding
Thursday my friend Cathy Clark and her team at Duke built a website in 24 hours which allows you to search for grants, loans and other cash equivalents that can help entrepreneurs, nonprofits and businesses anywhere in the world. Through the process they have learned: (1) (Prior to the stimulus package) There is over $14.5 billion already available in capital dedicated to COVID19 relief. (2) Many of the resources are governmental. (3) Corporations are acting fast as well, and putting significant funds aside, but few have dedicated significant funds available to support entrepreneurs. (4) Foundations have been extremely active and there are many new funder collaboratives, especially for new grant dollars and for more flexible grant terms. Duke CASE (15 minutes)
Trading Bitcoin Options 8 Days a Week
As best as we can tell, the “regular” hours that govern trading on many US stock markets tie back to the 19th century, when “curb” traders convened on the streets of lower New York once and then twice per day to trade with each other. Ultimately, “continuous trading” and “market hours” were instituted as a way to meet the evolving needs of traders, but old habits — or should we say hours — die hard. But folks trading crypto know that there’s no “off” period when it comes to decentralized assets trading on a global basis. That’s why LedgerX provides its customers with the ability to trade bitcoin derivatives at any moment, on any day, at any time. That means weekends and holidays too. Because opportunities to take advantage of big anticipated moves in bitcoin don’t care about “regular hours.” So why should you? To learn more, check out LedgerX. (Sponsored)
Small Business Stimulus
The sweeping coronavirus aid package provides $349 billion for the Small Business Administration to guarantee loans to small businesses using the existing framework of the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) program. (1) Who is eligible? Businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees are generally eligible, with some exceptions. Self-employed workers and gig workers, such as drivers for ride-sharing apps, are also able to apply for loans. (2) How do I apply? The SBA guarantees the loans, so borrowers will need to apply through banks, credit unions and other lenders. (3) How long will it take to get the money? Secretary Mnuchin said he expects that “by the end of next week, we will have a very simple process where these can be made and disbursed in the same day.” (4) How much can I apply for? Lenders determine the proper loan amount by using a formula that takes into account a business’s past payroll expenses. The bill also sets the maximum interest rate for these loans at 4% and allows borrowers to defer payments for six months to a year. (5) What’s this about forgiveness? There is a loan forgiveness component included in the bill for businesses that retain their workers or rehire ones that were laid off, according to Senate staffers. Those businesses would be eligible for forgiveness on portions of their loans used for certain costs—including payroll, rent payment, mortgage obligations and utilities—that are incurred during an 8-week period starting on the loan’s origination date, according to the legislation draft. The amount of forgiveness will take into account the number of workers retained or rehired. (6) What other help is available? Small businesses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply for a separate SBA program that provides disaster loans. Wall Street Journal (11 minutes)
U.S. startups employed more than 2.2 million people in 2019 in all 50 states. However, the National Venture Capital Association, which advocates for the VC and startup communities in Washington, believes venture-backed startups won’t qualify to receive government aid under the huge new aid package. As part of the package, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are expected to receive $350 billion in loans, in addition to the $25 billion in small business loans already provided by the Small Business Association. Even though the majority of startups have fewer employees than that figure, they aren’t likely to qualify for the loans because of the SBA’s affiliation rule. That rule states that startups must include in their headcount the employees of other startups backed by shared VC investors, which will likely put them above the 500-person maximum. The Information (4 minutes)
The COVID-19 pandemic will change lives and careers than any other event in recent history. The most important question is, what skills do you need to survive in an uncertain future? Whilst we are all in isolation, you can take this rare opportunity to build new skills and bridge the gaps. In times of great crisis and uncertainly such as the present, we can approach our careers with a polymath mindset. In the environment of accelerating change, people with multiple skills can easily adapt and thrive. The market rewards people who are rare and indispensable. Make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty good” skills until no one else has your mix. In an insightful post, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, a well-known comic strip, explains: If you want something extraordinary [in life], you have two paths: (1) Become the best at one specific thing. (2) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things. The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try. The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it. Mind Café (5 minutes)
Stoicism & Golf
Who knew that the number 1 golfer in the world Rory Mcllroy was a stoic? Apparently, when he was struggling through a slump in his game, he turned not to a coach but to Epictitus, the ancient Greek stoic philosopher. Stoic philosophy is centered on the idea that we don’t control what happens to us in life, but we do have control how we respond to it. Watch this video interview with him and Ryan Holiday – author of the Daily Stoic. Golf Channel (9 minutes)
The Overstory by Richard Powers. 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? "Listen. There’s something you need to hear." Amazon
Most Read Last Week
Survive & Thrive During Lockdown – My article on staying safe and sane during the lockdown.
Apeirogon: A Novel – Colum McCann’s new novel.
Cutting Cost – Step-by-step advice on how business owners should approach cost cutting.
Last week challenged you to make a commitment to a specific act of kindness. 34 people took me up on the challenge. Here’s some good stuff that happened:
Stephanie Dodson Cornell sent toys to her staff’s kids, paid ahead for a year of dog walking service and made her year-end donations to the non-profits she supports.
Lauren Walsh delivered groceries for her elderly neighbors. On Wednesday she was having a rough day letting the weight of several of life’s variables hang over her. Getting out of the house and doing a favor for these people gave her a chance to step away from her worries and help solve theirs.
Sheryl Lynn Johnson owns and lives on an avocado ranch in California. They’re picking avocados and putting them in bags for an "Avocado Pick-up Party". We're going to do it for a few days, focusing on special groups. The first group will be for special needs families.
Paul Fraynd is helping a family in need – the dad committed suicide 10 days ago, the daughter is in the PICU recovering from a subdural hematoma and stroke (she is awake after 10 days!), Mom and the 3 boys have been staying with us in their time of need.
Tom Levywas in the grocery store. There was a restriction - only 2 kleenex per customer. A 92-year-old man in front of me wanted 4. As he was leaving I purchased 2 more, and ran up to him and put it in his cart. I am not sure he knew what just happened. But he got his 4 boxes!
Brian Folmer reviewed pitch decks for 8 founders and gave them feedback.
Michael Gordon was concerned about how the local newspaper sold by homeless / low income people to our community was making out, since selling stuff on the streets is now impossible. So he reached out and made a donation.
Joel Liechty is rallying donations for struggling clergy.
Jed Davis gave free legal advice to two women.
Kristen Joys has gone on 8 grocery runs for her friend with a newborn. No small feat these days.
About the Weekend Briefing
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This newsletter is my passion project. I hope it helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to create meaningful impact in the world. Many readers have asked about how we can work together. I run a law firm for startups. We try to keep things simple by offering transparent flat fees. We structure our engagements in two ways: (1) Per-Project flat fee engagements. No billable hour means no surprise legal bills. (2) General Counsel - A simple monthly fee for all your day-to-day legal needs. It’s like getting a subscription to your own general counsel. 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.
One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do. -Henry Ford
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