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Weekend Briefing No. 157
Welcome to the weekend! This morning I’m packing up my bags to head out on a month-long adventure. Me and my buddy Phil will be doing an overland trip in an old-school Land Rover Discovery across Namibia. Then we’ll hang out in Cape Town from March 1st – 15th. If you’re there and want to connect or if you have somebody I should meet on the trip, shoot me a note. Cheers!
46 billion – Users of WeChat sent around 46 billion electronic red packets - digital versions of traditional envelopes stuffed with cash - via the Chinese mobile social platform over the Lunar New Year period.
77.42 gigawatts – And just like that, China becomes the world's largest solar power producer. China’s solar capacity hit 77.42 gigawatts. As it stands, solar energy represents only one percent of the country’s energy output.
17 miles – A crack in an Antarctic ice shelf grew 17 miles in the last two months (that’s 5 football fields every day). The crack has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures.
The First Benefit Corporation IPO
On February 1, history was made when Douglas Becker rang the opening bell of the Nasdaq. With the ringing of the bell his company, Laureate Education, Inc., became the first public benefit corporation to be publicly traded. Only time will tell if Laureate is able to buck the trend of publically traded for-profit colleges that have failed to deliver value to their shareholders. Maybe converting to a benefit corporation will empower its management to navigate the public markets while keeping their purpose central. Hopefully the pursuit of purpose will drive long-term profit for investors. Learn more in my article in Fast Company.
uBeam’s Critics Silenced
Last year there were a number of stories claiming that uBeam – a company creating wireless charging technology – was a hoax; specifically that the technology is impossible. Journalists were branding uBeam as the next Theranos. Well… it turns out the critics are wrong. At a recent demo uBeam CEO Meredith Perry showed a working demo. While it appears the basic science of uBeam's plan does check out, there is still work to do. For one, the company has yet to squeeze its technology into the beautiful disc-shaped device that it plans to sell consumers. Perry said that the company has recently shrunken its tech into coin-sized chips, a first step in the process. Learn more at Axios (3 minutes).
Food Waste Dumplings
A single restaurant generally throws out 25,000 to 75,000 pounds of food every year. 40% of the food in the US food system goes to waste, just because it’s not pretty. What a waste! At a popular dumpling shop in Manhattan – Mimi Cheng’s - the newest dumpling on the menu is made with food waste. The owners partnered with legendary chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill, who has been leading a movement to help restaurants begin to address the problem of food waste. Learn more at Fast Company (4 minutes).
Ok. Valentine’s Day is upon us. So, many of us are looking for love. As AI continues to improve, an ethical question emerges: Is it possible to love a robot? There is a woman in China who has been told "I love you" nearly 20 million times. That special lady is Xiaoice (pronounced "Shao-ice"), a chatbot developed by Microsoft engineers in China. Some 89 million people enjoy having conversations with Xiaoice on devices such as smartphones, and they are developing intimate feelings toward her in the process. As advances in AI technology will create robots that can be ideal spouses, marriage between humans and robots will start in around 2050, said David Levy, a leading robotics expert who spoke at the meeting. Learn more at Asian Review (6 minutes).
Let’s Stop Calling Them Soft Skills?
The term “soft skills” in the workplace implies that they are somehow less important. Seth Godin, in arguing for their connection to success, wants to rename them as “real skills” and has broken them into five large categories: 1) Self Control — Once you’ve decided that something is important, are you able to persist in doing it? 2) Productivity — Are you able to use your insights and your commitment to actually move things forward? 3) Wisdom — Have you learned things that are difficult to glean from a textbook or a manual? 4) Perception — Do you have the experience and the practice to see the world clearly? 5) Influence — Have you developed the skills needed to persuade others to take action? Learn more at Medium (7 minutes). .
A List of Things You Control
So much in life is out of your control. Here are some things that are in your control: 1) Your beliefs. 2) Your attitude. 3) Your perspective. 4) How honest you are. 5) Your friends. 6) How often you exercise. 7) How often you say “I love you.” 8) How often you say “Thank you.” 9) How much you smile. 10) How much effort you put forth. 11) How much time you spend thinking about the past or worrying about the future. 12) Whether or not you try again after a setback. See the full list at Swiss Miss (3 minutes).
Just wanted to say that I really like your approach to keeping the weekend briefing away from politics. It's nice to have some sources of interesting content that can help me take a step back from the daily news cycle. Thanks. – Meg Gray, Director of Portfolio Operations at Kiva.org
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your weekend routine. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend