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Weekend Briefing No. 184
Welcome to the weekend. Thanks again to those who attended my creativity workshop with Apolis about How to Get Published this past week. You can check out more here.
3,500,000 – A recent analysis by Cornerstone Capital Group suggests that 7.5m retail jobs – the most common type of job in the country – are at “high risk of computerization”, with the 3.5m cashiers likely to be particularly hit hard.
7,870 – Public electric vehicle (EV) charge points will outnumber petrol stations in the UK by the end of the decade. There were 8,472 traditional fuel stations in the UK at the end of last year, representing a steady decline from the 37,539 recorded in 1970. Based on the rate of decline in recent decades the number of petrol stations is likely to fall to under 7,870 by summer 2020, Nissan said.
74 – 74% of Americans have sexted. Americans are most likely to sext using SMS (65%) followed by Snapchat (38%).
A Moonshot for the American Dream
The opportunity to start and grow a business is not equally accessible to hardworking entrepreneurs everywhere in the United States. And because of that fact, our country’s economic dynamism is in crisis, as is the American Dream. The Kaufman Foundation and Village Capital just released a report on how to address this problem. One of the problems addressed in the report was that most companies don’t fit the venture capital profile. While venture capital is looking for “unicorns”--boom-or-bust companies--the majority of companies are “zebras”--lower-risk companies aiming for steady growth, not billion-dollar valuations. The solution proposed was that a $200m ‘catalytic capital pool’ would increase support for normal-growth companies by combining $20 million in commitments from 10 private philanthropies. This would create a fund of funds aimed at seeding & sparking efforts by financial intermediaries to test innovations around distinct “capital gaps.” As more innovative approaches are tested and proven, this would create more incentives and lower risk for private capital to contribute to these intermediaries. Download the report at Village Capital (27 minutes).
With no direct English translation, ikigai is a Japanese term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning. To those in the West who are more familiar with the concept of ikigai, it’s often associated with a Venn diagram with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Ikigai is what allows you to look forward to the future even if you’re miserable right now. It’s about feeling your work makes a difference in people’s lives. But this isn’t necessarily limited to your career. In fact, in a survey of 2,000 Japanese men and women conducted by Central Research Services in 2010, just 31% of recipients considered work as their ikigai. Someone’s value in life can be work – but is certainly not limited to that. Knowing your ikigai alone is not enough. Simply put, you need an outlet. Ikigai is “purpose in action.” Learn more at the BBC (9 minutes).
Myanmar is Mobile
Just six years ago, only North Korea had fewer mobile phones than Myanmar. Now, almost everyone in Southeast Asia’s poorest country is connected. In 2015, Myanmar signed up more people for mobile phone service than any country in the world except China and India. By last June, about 90% of the country’s 54 million people had access to a phone with internet service. Some 60% use Facebook or other social media to get news. In Yangon, the country’s biggest city, you can now hail a car using ride-sharing apps like Uber or Grab. Back in the days of the junta, the identification chip that goes inside a cell phone, a SIM card, could run you more than $2,000 on the black market. These days, a data-enabled card sold by Ooredoo, the Qatari company, can be had for $1.50. A smartphone itself can cost less than $20. And domestic calls are about 2 cents per minute. Learn more at Bloomberg (6 minutes).
What does it benefit a person to gain the world and lose their soul? Too many of our friends, while wealthier and more successful than us, have objectively worse lives. Calendars packed. On planes all the time. Marriage in shambles. Don’t see their kids. Sleep 4 hours a night. So, how do we pursue success and actually enjoy our work & life? Problems frequently get easier if you turn them around in reverse. So, in trying to solve this problem, Andrew and his co-founder Chris described their worst possible day looked like this: (1) Full of long meetings. (2) A packed calendar. (3) Dealing with people we don’t like or trust. (4) Owing people things / not being in control/obligations. (5) Having to be at the office. (6) Travel. (7) Tired. Working backward from there, they made this set of Anti-Goals: (1) Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all). (2) No more than two hours of scheduled time per day. (3) No business or obligations with people we don’t like—even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no. (4) Never give up voting control of our businesses, no favors from people who could need something from us. (5) Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where we can come and go as we please with nobody to bother us. (6) Video conference or pay for people to come visit us. (7) Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed. Learn more at Medium (3 minutes).
Why are venture capitalists so eager to seem like “cool moms” to founders? Because in VC parlance, there’s too much money chasing too few deals. That dynamic isn’t likely to change. Recent events might bring strong governance back into fashion. See the disappointing stock performance of Blue Apron and Snap, two companies with share structures that deny voting rights to investors and in Snap’s case, give total control to the founders. Blue Apron slashed its proposed IPO price by 34% before its June offering; six weeks later, its shares were trading 50% below that. Meanwhile Standard & Poor’s and FTSE Russell declared that, because of Snap’s nonvoting class of common shares, they would exclude the company from their indexes, blocking its access to an entire class of passive investors. Investors are finally realizing they went too far with the “founder-friendly” thing. And founders may be realizing that if they want their companies to go public, they need to give up some control. Learn more at Fortune (5 minutes).
Are You an Amateur or Professional?
What’s the difference between amateurs and professionals? (1) Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process. (2) Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence. (3) Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism. (4) Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery. (5) Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do. (6) Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and every day them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak. (7) Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice. (8) Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome. (9) Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better. (10) Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day. Learn more at Farnam Street (4 minutes).
On Confidence & Humility
Ryan Holiday uses the Biblical story of David and Goliath to talk about the complex relationship between humility and confidence. If confidence is knowing your strength, humility is an awareness of one’s own weaknesses. David possessed as much humility as he did confidence. It must be said first that he never sought out this fight—he’d have preferred that the army took care of it. He’d probably have preferred the war never need to take place at all. Once the challenge came his way, however, and he saw that no one else was doing anything, he asked himself what he might do if he had to. David knew that he was too small and weak to fight in traditional armor. He could see how it slowed him down. He knew that his courage was hardly sufficient to compensate for the massive size differential and that his lack of fighting skills made a direct challenge next to impossible. He knew that if Goliath got his hands on him, it was over, that his flesh would soon be fed to the birds and animals. Yet, also aware of his skill with the sling, he knew he had an advantage. If he could get one shot off and time it right, there was an opportunity. He was confident enough to take it. Learn more at Thought Catalog (10 minutes).
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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.