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Weekend Briefing No. 178
Welcome to the weekend y’all! Hi from Tennessee. This week I’m taking some time to chill out with my family on the lake. I hope you’re enjoying your summer weekends. If you’re looking for some pop music to spice up your weekend, check out my Summer Pop Playlist.
66M – Volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive. About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge plantation campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh throughout Sunday.
80 – A newly discovered photograph suggests legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished 80 years ago on a round-the-world flight, survived a crash-landing in the Marshall Islands and was captured by the Japanese.
62 – In 2016, the fertility rate in the United States was the lowest it has ever been.There were 62 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, down 1 percent from 2015. There were 3,941,109 babies born in 2016.
There has been a growing swell of stories about sexism and inappropriate sexual behavior between VC’s and female entrepreneurs this month. It’s heartbreaking, but not the most shocking news in the world: men are using their position of power to try to get sex. I’ve heard vague stories of shady VC’s from a number of female entrepreneurs. It’s a tale as old as time, but it’s still – as always – wrong, gross and creepy AF. There has been a lot written, but Cheryl Yeoh’s post about Dave McClure’s sexual advances was particularly salient because it sheds light on the black box of “inappropriate behavior”. In addition to her personal story of one night in her Malaysian apartment with McClure, she also outlines different levels of sexual inappropriateness. It’s worth a read. Check it out at CherylYeoh.com (13 minutes).
I know it seems like the world is getting worse. Despite the gloom, the world truly is becoming a better place. Indeed, 2017 is likely to be the best year in the history of humanity. Here are some of the reasons: (1) Since 1990, more than 100 million children’s lives have been saved through vaccinations, improved nutrition and medical care. (2) For most of history, more than 90% of the world population lived in extreme poverty, however that number is fewer than 10% today. Every day, another 250,000 people graduate from extreme poverty. (3) About 300,000 people get electricity for the first time every day. (4) Some 285,000 get their first access to clean drinking water every day. So let’s pause from our pessimism for a nanosecond of celebration about a world that is actually getting better. The most important historical force in the world today is not President Trump, and it’s not terrorists. Rather, it’s the stunning gains on our watch against extreme poverty, illiteracy and disease. Learn more at the New York Times (8 minutes).
Last week, I featured a piece about the necessity of philosophy and morality in startups. This week I want to focus on the idea of faith in startups by exploring the concept of redemptive entrepreneurship. What does redemptive entrepreneurship look like? It starts with this. If the Christian narrative about the world is true, then founders and teams who operate in alignment with it should be the best-equipped to create ventures that everyone should want to see more of in the world—whether they share that Christian faith or not. What kinds of ventures? Companies and nonprofits tackling hard problems that are worth solving at any scale. Ventures conceived as starkly realistic lament over what’s wrong with the world, and pursued in confident hope that the world can be repaired—because that’s what the Christian narrative is, in the end, isn’t it? Ventures that, throughout their entire value chain, dignify instead of objectify people—because human dignity is most valued by people who believe it’s received, not conferred. Ventures that compete and grow financially strong because they solve real problems, ingeniously and with excellence at scale. Ventures that are designed to renew and strengthen industries, not only to disrupt or exploit them for personal or tribal gain. Learn more at Praxis Journal (5 minutes).
There are about as many people living without electricity today as there were when Thomas Edison lit his first light bulb. More than half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Even those with electricity can’t rely on it due to frequent power cut. Though many make the comparison to cell phones, there’s no guarantee that it will spread through the continent at the pace of cell phones. Still, in the past eighteen months, innovative startups have brought electricity to hundreds of thousands of consumers—many of them in places that the grid failed to reach. More than $200MM in venture capital was invested in off-grid solar in Africa last year, up from $19MM in 2013—and companies are rapidly expanding their operations with the new money. M-Kopa, an American startup that launched in Kenya, in 2011, now has half a million pay-as-you-go solar customers. Electrifying Africa is one of the largest development challenges on earth. It will likely be a mix of public utilities and off-grid solar technology companies that will finally achieve the task. Learn more at the New Yorker (26 minutes).
The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur
The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur is a new book about powering up your social justice career. It’s is a compendium of 21 original essays and insights - part memoir, part handbook - about the challenges and questions every social entrepreneur thinks about. For the novice change-maker, each chapter bristles with provocative tips and tools to transform your social justice career. Because social entrepreneurship is not called solo entrepreneurship, the book also contains 19 additional commentaries by change-makers… including me. Check out an excerpt at Stanford Social Innovation Review (16 minutes).
You’re Doing Weekends Wrong
A weekend without email and spreadsheets might seem like a victory in and of itself—and it is, kind of. But if you don’t feel rejuvenated and keen to face Monday after two work-free days, there might be a reason: You’re doing your weekend wrong. Positive psychologists note that the optimal weekend – where you feel refreshed and invigorated – does not just include vegging and partying. But should include: (1) socializing – maybe brunch with friends after reading the Weekend Briefing, (2) a hobby – origami anyone?, (3) altruism – some type of service, and (4) play. Learn more at Quartz (6 minutes).
Magnets Not Megaphones
Rank & File Magazine did a feature article on me. The piece talks about (1) how my values developed in my 20s, (2) the power of listening, (3) the failed social enterprise – a fashion brand that employed and empowered survivors of the sex trade in Bangkok – I founded with some friends early in my career, and (4) the story behind my book. If you’re interested in learning a little more of my back story, check out Rank & File (8 minutes).
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback, insights, tips 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.