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Weekend Briefing No. 152
Welcome to the weekend. Hello from lovely Cambridge Massachusetts. This is the 5th year that I’ve had the opportunity to co-teach a course on social entrepreneurship at Harvard Law School with my good friend Suzanne McKechnie Klahr. I love that this venerable institution is supportive of the next generation of social innovators.
As we kick off 2017, I need your help. I want your input to improve the quality and shape the future of the Weekend Briefing. I want to know what interests you and get your feedback on some new segments that I’m considering for 2017. I don’t like to ask much from you, but, it would mean a lot to me if everyone (yes… that means you) takes 2 minutes to fill out this anonymous survey. (It works well on mobile.)
Just to say thanks for taking time to fill out the survey, here’s one of my best playlists yet – enjoy my January Playlist.
This Week By The Numbers
$361 B – While investment in renewable energy may be in question in the US, China is investing $361 billion to renewable power generation by 2020. China will use the money to build extra wind, hydro, solar, and nuclear power infrastructures over the next five years, creating 13 million jobs along the way.
3,000 – A new study released by MIT has found that just 3000 ride-share vehicles could do the job of New York City’s roughly 13,500 licensed cabs. The catch—it only works if all the passengers are using the carpool option offered by Uber and Lyft.
30 – This week Forbes released its annual list of 30 Under 30. A big shout out to friend and Weekend Briefing community member Samir Ibrahim for his work on SunCulture, which sells solar-powered drip irrigation systems to farmers in Kenya. The upshot: clean electricity, 300% greater crop yields using 80% less water.
Don’t Call Yourself a Social Entrepreneur
Calling yourself a social enterprise when seeking investment is a horrible idea, as is courting self-proscribed “impact investors”. Rafe Furst should know, he was/is both of these things. His advice to founders is: bake the impact into the profit model. The more profit you make, the more impact you should be making. And vice versa. In other words, if you are a social entrepreneur, it should be impossible for you to make good money and not have an impact. Learn more at Medium (2 minutes).
Finland Is Basic AF
Finland is starting a national experiment to try and prove a basic income doesn’t make people lazy. For the next two years, the Finnish government is handing out €560 ($583) tax-free every month to a group of citizens. In this trial period, 2,000 people aged 25 to 58 will get the monthly stipend and won’t have to report how they spend it. The trial will determine if basic income can become a blueprint for the Finnish social security system. Only people on unemployment benefits will be eligible, and they will keep getting the money even if they get a job. Learn more at Quartz (4 minutes).
Platforms Not Pipelines
For traditional or “pipeline” firms, the writing's on the wall: Learn the new rules of strategy for a platform world, or begin planning your exit. Under the platform model, a company creates a marketplace— usually a digital one—that connects producers or providers to consumers. Platforms have 3 advantages: 1) Their marginal costs approach zero, so they scale much faster. Airbnb and Uber began in 2008 and 2009, respectively, but they now have bigger market caps than Marriott and BMW, which launched in 1927 and 1916. 2) Platforms innovate faster by relying on ecosystem partners for external resources. 3) When users create value for other users, the value proposition scales with use, which creates buyer stickiness. Learn more about this and what you need to know in 2017 through the Zeitguide. Since the author, Brad Grossman is a member of the Weekend Briefing community, he’s hooking us up with a discount, use code WESTAWAY at checkout for 20% off. Click here to get your copy (5 minutes).
Small Is the New Big
The number of businesses classified as manufacturers with no employee has been rising steadily since the depths of the recession. U.S. food manufacturers with no employee but the owner nearly doubled from 2004 to 2014. One-worker beverage and tobacco makers expanded 150%. Such chemical manufacturers—a category that includes makers of soap and perfume—grew almost 70%. The tiny operations often make food, craft beer, toiletries or other niche products. Their growth stands out in a sector that has been shedding workers for decades. Apparently, a growing segment of makers want to be their own bosses, and nobody else’s. Learn more at Wall Street Journal (5 minutes).
Jeff Walker, Vice Chair in the United Nations Envoy’s Office for Health Finance and Malaria, and a member of our Weekend Briefing community, wants us to think about social entrepreneurship less as a solo project of entrepreneurs and more like an ensemble. This ensemble approach, which is the hallmark of a systems entrepreneur, is much more likely to shift the equilibrium and create actual system change. Watch his TEDx Talk to learn more (14 minutes).
Being Present at Home
Ever find yourself checking email, fantasy football, or social media when you actually want to be present with the most important people in your life? The ancient monastic tradition called a “rule” offers a simple, compelling way to set healthy boundaries. In monastic communities, a rule represents a voluntary commitment to do and not do particular things. It is a decision, made in a time of clarity, that helps guide choices the rest of the time. Rules turn intentions into specific commitments, commitments into actions, actions into habits and habits into a way of life. It could be argued that most, perhaps all, ancient rules held one primary purpose: attention. Consider setting a “rule” on technology with your significant other. It may be the best New Year’s resolution you can make in 2017. Learn more at the Washington Post (6 minutes).
I’m always interested in simple practices that create high value. A Weekend Briefing reader Alice Liu has a good one called the Logbook. The concept is simple. Create a Google Sheet called Logbook with three column headings: 1) Date 2) Source 3) Learning. Every week log at least one learning. Keep the entry to a max of two sentences. It works well because it allows you to immediately capture the core of the idea forever in a very concise form. Plus every time you open up the doc you get to rediscover great ideas. Check out the Logbook at Medium (6 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
TThanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning 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.