Weekend Briefing No. 422
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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107—Scientists have found and filmed one of the greatest ever undiscovered shipwrecks 107 years after it sank. The Endurance, the lost vessel of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, was found over the weekend at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.
40—Nearly 40% of heterosexual couples met online as of 2017. I have to imagine that number is higher after the pandemic.
1.2—Last month, 1.2% of all tweets mentioned non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies
Some fun personal news: We’re excited (and incredibly honored) to announce that Fast Company has selected our law firm—Westaway—as one of the 2022 Most Innovative Companies. We’re quite humbled to be ranked alongside some truly impressive companies like SpaceX, Stripe, Ramp, Roblox and many others. It’s notable that, as far as we can tell, we’re the first law firm to be recognized in the history of the awards. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves, “How did a law firm make this list?” Well, unfortunately, traditional law firms don’t work for most early-stage startups. The dreaded billable hour drains precious resources and slows them down. We believe that all founders should have access to quality legal counsel. From day 1, we’ve been building a firm designed to be inclusive to all founders by embracing these three innovations (1) Transparent Pricing—Say goodbye to the billable hour; say hello to transparent flat fees. (2) General Counsel—a flat monthly fee covers all your startup’s legal needs. (3) Automation—We’ve invested in software to serve founders more efficiently with less errors. Fast Company (7 minutes)
Nearly everyone talks about Web3 from a technology and cultural perspective. But what's often overlooked is that the people in Web3 are different. Web3 founders, leaders and builders are skilled in different areas. They have different personalities, values and motivations. If we truly want to understand Web3, we can't just read white papers and join Discords. We need to understand the leaders behind the technology. After talking to hundreds of Web3 founders, Morgan Beller, General Partner at NFX, has repeatedly seen the most successful leaders demonstrate these five skills: (1) Systems thinker. (2) Community leader. (3) Democratic. (4) Pie maker, not taker. (5) Unlearner. Check out this video to learn more. NFX (5 minutes)
The Future of Digital Contracting
The remote/hybrid employee trend is here to stay, and companies who don’t adapt will be left behind. With remote work, the “old” way of storing contracts doesn’t cut it anymore. Your teams need immediate access to contracts from anywhere and at any time. With workers more geographically dispersed, software that facilitates collaboration with intelligent alerts are “must haves.” World-class security with certifications such as SOC2, HIPAA and GDPR compliance are non-negotiables. Companies embracing software such as ContractSafe gain immediate efficiencies. ContractSafe wins awards for fast implementation and overall ease of use. With ContractSafe, all your contracts and details are at your fingertips. With unlimited users included in all plans, collaboration across remote teams is a breeze. Named a G2 High Performer, see ContractSafe for yourself and get a special offer for Weekend Briefing readers by booking a demo today. ContractSafe (Sponsored)
North Star Metric
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the British rowing team unexpectedly won the Men’s Eight Rowing gold medal. One simple question was instrumental in their success. “Will it make the boat go faster?” This question was their North Star Metric—the one target, one aim, that you rally your entire team around. A North Star metric is a simple metric. But it harnesses the entire company's focus. As Shreyas says, being aware of your North Star gives you immense clarity and focus. The right North Star metric makes thing simple. Now, having a strong North Star is a great first step, as you marshal your team toward your next big milestone. But it's only a first step. Very soon, you'll have a task list with hundreds of items. You could cut out some of them, but all of them will make the boat go faster. What do you do then? You can’t humanly do everything, can you? You then need to ask, "Is this indeed the best thing I can do to make the boat go faster?" Sunday Reads (6 minutes)
On March 11, 2021, one year ago, Mike Winkelmann, whose nom d’artiste is Beeple, sold a collage of computer illustrations for $69 million simply because that collage came attached to a digital certificate called an NFT. That colossal price launched a mad scramble among creators of all kinds—illustrators, musicians, photographers, even a few veteran avant-gardists—to join the NFT gold rush. In the 12 months since, something like $44 billion has been spent on about 6 million NFTs, usually issued to certify digital creations but sometimes for physical objects like paintings and sculptures. But did this vast tsunami of “NFT art” actually trigger any kind of sea change in what art looks like, what it means, or what, in some profound sense, it is? Hardly at all, and there’s a chance such a change might barely be possible: That’s because “NFT art” simply does not exist. Michael Bouhanna, a specialist at Sotheby’s auction house in London, has been selling digital art works with NFT “deeds” for longer than almost anyone. He thinks that before too long, as the novelty of NFTs wears off, people will just talk about “digital art” and leave the NFT off to one side, as a detail in the transfer of ownership. New York Times (6 minutes)
On Fatherhood and Cancer
Jonathan Tjark’s son is obsessed with cars. He had just turned two when Jonathan got his terminal cancer diagnosis. Jonathan lost his dad early to Parkinson’s, which left him feeling unrooted and disconnected. He says: “I have already told some of my friends, ‘When I see you in heaven, there’s only one thing I’m going to ask—Were you good to my son and my wife? Were you there for them? Does my son know you?’” I don’t want Jackson to have the same childhood that I did. I want him to wonder why his dad’s friends always come over and shoot hoops with him, why they always invite him to their houses, why there are so many of them at his games. I hope that he gets sick of them. One thing I have learned from this experience is that you can’t worry about things that you can’t control. I can’t control what will happen to me. I don’t know how long I will be there for my son. All I can do is make the most of the time that I have left. That means investing in other people so they can be there for him. The Ringer (10 minutes)
Here’s some depressing math: Your life, in the best-case scenario, will consist of around 20 years of in-person time with your parents. The first 19 happened over the course of your first 19 years. The final year is spread out over the rest of your life. When you left for college, you had many decades left with living parents, but only about one year of time left to spend with them. The depressing math of life reveals a cold truth: While you may not be anywhere near the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time spent with some of the most important people in your life. Here’s the good news about being a human. The time we have left with family and friends is not a law of nature like the weeks we have left to live. It’s a function of priorities and decisions. At a normal pace of 10 to 15 days per year, you and your parents have at best a couple of hundred days left to hang out. But there’s nothing stopping you from changing that equation. The past couple of years has left us with a joy deficit. When we picture a post-COVID-19 world, we imagine having our old lives back. But we can actually go a step further and make up for the missed experiences, flipping the deficit into a surplus. If COVID-19 has given us anything, it’s a rare chance for a reset. Let’s take it. New York Times (8 minutes)
Mastering Ethereum by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Gavin Wood. Ethereum represents the gateway to a worldwide, decentralized computing paradigm. This platform enables you to run decentralized applications (DApps) and smart contracts that have no central points of failure or control, integrate with a payment network, and operate on an open blockchain. With this practical guide, Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Gavin Wood provide everything you need to know about building smart contracts and DApps on Ethereum and other virtual-machine blockchains. Discover why IBM, Microsoft, NASDAQ and hundreds of other organizations are experimenting with Ethereum. This essential guide shows you how to develop the skills necessary to be an innovator in this growing and exciting new industry. Buy Now
Most Read Last Week
Career-Ending Mistake—Maybe rather than rushing around wildly at work for decades, we should give a little thought to what we want to achieve in our careers. Then, rather than just sitting back and hoping it happens, we should actively plan and take steps to bring it about.
Microsoft at War—After years of discussions in Washington and in tech circles about the need for public-private partnerships to combat destructive cyberattacks, the war in Ukraine is stress-testing the system.
IKEA’s Tricks—How does IKEA trick you into buying more stuff?
In addition to the Weekend Briefing, I write a two-minute Friday morning briefing on startup funding called Funding Fridays. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine. –Neil Armstrong
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