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Weekend Briefing No. 150
Welcome to the weekend. Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Hanukkah! I hope you are spending time connecting with friends and family this weekend. I’m sitting by the fire with mine in Tennessee. If you’re looking for the right tunes to go with your egg nog, I got ya covered. Check out my ultimate Christmas playlist. Cheers!
This Week By The Numbers
40% – Percent of American Millennials live with their parents. It’s the highest share of young adults living at home since 1940.
10 – The number of "non-sponsored sleepovers" have been logged across the world by the Swedish furniture giant this year. The rules of the game are: casually walk into Ikea during the day, hide in a closet until after the store closes and then run amok in the shop and nap on the beds before casually walking out again in the morning.
7 – The number of words I used in a recent article offering career advice to aspiring social entrepreneurs. In case you’re wondering they were “Show up. Add value. Celebrate others’ work.”
Three overlapping stories converge in Google Translate’s successful metamorphosis to A.I. 1) The technical story is about one team on one product at one company, and the process by which they refined, tested, and introduced a brand-new version of an old product in only about a quarter of the time anyone, themselves included, might reasonably have expected. 2) The institutional story is about the employees of a small but influential artificial-intelligence group within that company, and the process by which their intuitive faith in some old, unproven and broadly unpalatable notions about computing upended every other company within a large radius. 3) The story of ideas is about the cognitive scientists, psychologists, and wayward engineers who long toiled in obscurity, and the process by which their ostensibly irrational convictions ultimately inspired a paradigm shift in our understanding not only of technology but also, in theory, of consciousness itself. This long form piece is well worth the time (it took me an entire flight to finish). Learn more in New York Times (1 hour 48 minutes).
When Slurpies Fly
This week 77 customers in Reno, Nev., have now received items delivered to their doorsteps via drone ordered from… 7-Eleven?! Pretty shocking that the winner of the race to make drone delivery was also the creator of the Slurpie not Amazon or Google. All 77 flights were from one store to a dozen select customers who live within a mile of the shop. 7-Eleven has partnered with the drone maker Flirtey for its delivery pilot. Learn more at recode (4 minutes).
The Book of the Future
At Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, most meetings are recorded, employees are expected to criticize one another continually, people are subject to frequent probes of their weaknesses, and personal performance is assessed on a host of data points. Bridgewater’s new technology would enshrine this unorthodox management approach in a software system. It could dole out GPS-style directions for how staff members should spend every aspect of their days, down to whether an employee should make a particular phone call. It’s being dubbed internally "The Book of the Future". Learn more at Wall Street Journal (9 minutes).
An anti-gravity suit (called NASG) used to keep astronauts from blacking out during extreme acceleration by squeezing their arms and legs to push blood back towards their head was the inspiration for a life-saving device for new mothers. In the developing world, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH)—loss of more than 500 milliliters of blood after the birth of a baby—accounts for up to 60% of maternal mortality cases. The wetsuit-like contraption, which has since been christened LifeWrap, and early tests show that the suit cut maternal mortality rates by over 50%. Learn more at Quartz (7 minutes).
Mo Money Mo Problems
"Necessity is the mother of invention," the saying goes. But what happens when inventors start imagining their necessities are far greater than they are? That's a question that more entrepreneurs should consider seriously. The most innovative businesses are often built at times of need—and on a budget. This raises the question of whether young companies should raise as much money as they can from deep-pocketed investors. Too much money—which is to say money that you don’t absolutely need—can do worse than just dilute a founder's ownership stake. It can undermine the fundamental motivation that comes from scarcity. Learn more in Fast Company (3 minutes).
Ambition, Marriage & Children
A recent study of MBA grads noted that there are surprisingly few “power couples”. While nearly all of the highest achievers paired off with men who had comparable degrees and career success, once they became parents ultimately only one person in the couple ended up with a classically successful career. The other spouse opted to stay home with the children, or to have a career with flexible hours that enabled them to be the primary caregiver. It is almost as though, in families where someone has a big job, all of the career ambition has been allocated to one person – in some cases this was the man, in others the woman. Learn more in the Atlantic (11 minutes).
Does getting on the phone stress you out. Turns out you’re not alone. We’re rarely separated from our mobile phones these days, but many people still suffer from a true, deep fear of making a phone call. Recognized as an offshoot of social anxiety disorder, telephobia afflicts people across countries and generations. Those who suffer from telephobia might be comfortable delivering a talk in a room full of strangers or might send dozens of text messages a day, but get shivers when they need to talk on the phone. Learn more at the BBC (8 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your weekend routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.