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Weekend Briefing No. 437
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend. I hope you’re enjoying the first weekend of the Summer.
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1 million—An artist imagines a stadium with 1 million seats.
57%—The operating margin at the largest shipping carriers hit 57% in the first quarter.
52%—According to the 2022 Africa Youth Survey, 52% of young people in Africa would like to emigrate, a 22% increase over the fraction observed in 2019 before the pandemic.
Agriculture and Innovation
As agriculture gradually regains its footing after COVID-19, participants and stakeholders should be casting an eye ahead to safeguarding food supplies against the potentially greater and more disruptive effects of climate change. Once again, innovation and advanced technologies could make a powerful contribution to secure and sustainable food production. For example, digital and biotechnologies could improve the health of ruminant livestock, requiring fewer methane-producing animals to meet the world’s protein needs. Genetic technologies could play a supporting role by enabling the breeding of animals that produce less methane. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) and sensors could help food processors sort better and slash waste, and other smart technologies could identify inedible by-products for reprocessing. Data and advanced analytics also could help authorities better monitor and manage the seas to limit overfishing—while enabling boat crews to target and find fish with less effort and waste. Agriculture is a traditional industry, but its quest for tech-enabled sustainability offers valuable lessons. McKinsey (21 minutes)
What shapes Peter Thiel’s, the PayPal founder, investor and consummate contrarian, worldview? This article by David Perell is a long form dive into that question. First, he begins by explaining Thiel’s connection to a French philosopher named Rene Girard. He returns to old books like The Bible, old ideas like sacrifice, and old writers like Shakespeare, to see why this ancient wisdom holds clues for modern life. Then, he examines tenets of the Christian story of Cain and Abel. Then, he covers the shift from cyclical time to linear time, which was spurred by technological development and human progress. He’ll show you why the last book in The Bible, The Book of Revelation is a core pillar of Thiel’s philosophy. Then, he closes with Thiel’s advice and wisdom almost as old as Cain and Abel: The Ten Commandments. David Perell (32 minutes)
What “Flash” Millionaires Taught Us
Its Investing 101: there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme. But still greed and exuberance drove intelligent people to abandon that basic principle. Rampant crypto speculation, meme stock mania, and nonsensical NFT hysteria made people “flash” millionaires one hour, but left them deep in the red the next. But now as we face a harsh new macroeconomic reality, it's time to remember Investing 101. Stick to the tried and tested strategies that have turned regular people into millionaires, and millionaires into billionaires for hundreds of years. How? By turning to a 277-year-old asset class that's maintained near zero-correlations to equities markets, and outperformed even gold and real estate in high inflationary periods (like now). What is it? Fine art. Often overlooked because of the barriers to entry, now made accessible by Masterworks, a platform that's recently returned over 30% to investors in each of their last 4 exits. To join a community of principled investors, just click the link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
This is a solid introductory talk on leverage by Eric Jorgenson. The concept of leverage is simply about amplifying your effort. It’s a core mental model for how I think about work. Anyone can use leverage to level up and increase their impact. This talk covers four types of leverage: Tool Leverage, Product Leverage, People Leverage and Capital Leverage. YouTube (38 minutes)
I’m spending time with my amazing sisters this week. It’s really cool to see how relationships change at different stages of life. So, this article was particularly interesting to me. As adults age even more, sibling relationships tend to become warmer and less conflicted. But do these relationships matter much in later life? Apparently yes. Given your shared history, siblings understand you like no one else really can. Family routines, family rituals, memories of your family, the ways things work in your family, the little jokes and private understandings—you just don’t have that with other people, not even a long-term spouse. Still, conflicts can arise between siblings in adulthood, says Kramer, especially as life gets complicated by work obligations, raising families, parent caregiving or a parent’s death. If old familial wounds (like perceived favoritism) get revisited, it can lead to poorer relationships and increased depression. Yet warmer sibling relationships in older adults do seem to help stave off loneliness and depression, and siblings often help each other out when times are tough. This suggests they remain important and are worth nurturing. Greater Good (9 minutes)
Temptation bundling is a productivity technique that involves combining an activity that gives you instant gratification, such as watching TV, with one that is beneficial but has a delayed reward, such as exercising. If you only allow yourself to watch TV while you’re on a treadmill, you may be more likely to exercise regularly than you would otherwise have been. Temptation bundling can help you to avoid procrastination, reduce short-sighted decision making, and improve both your physical and mental health. Follow these simple steps to create effective temptation bundles that are personal to you: (1) Create a two-column list. In one column, write down all the activities that bring you joy or that you find relaxing. In the second column, list all of the tasks and behaviors that are less enjoyable or that you are prone to procrastinate over, such as exercise or chores. (2) Combine “wants” with “shoulds.” After you have taken your time to write the two lists, you can start browsing them to make suitable combinations of gratifying “want” behaviors and necessary “should” activities. (3) Check for conflict. It is important to make sure that the two items do not physically conflict with each other. You must be able to effectively perform both behaviors at the same time. For example, trying to reply to important work emails while watching one of your favorite TV shows may not be the best combination, as your concentration levels are likely to be affected. Ness Labs (8 minutes)
Oliver Burkeman has been an advice columnist for The Guardian for over a decade. He distilled what he learned into a final column. Here are his secrets to a fulfilling life. (1) There will always be too much to do—and this realization is liberating. (2) When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. (3) The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower. (4) The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need. (5) The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. (6) The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one. (7) Selflessness is overrated. (8) Know when to move on. The Guardian (12 minutes)
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This book is a practical, readable guide for anyone who wants power, watches power or wants to arm themselves against power. Written by Robert Greene and produced and designed by Joost Elffers, the renowned packager of The Secret Language of Birthdays, The 48 Laws of Power will be known as the essential—and controversial—guide to modern manipulation. In a bold and elegant two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power synthesizes the philosophies of Machiavelli, Suntzu and Carl Von Clausewitz, with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers and con men throughout the ages. Using the stories of such figures as Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger and P. T. Barnum, the Laws are illustrated through the tactics, triumphs and failures of those who have wielded—and those who have been victimized by—Power. At work, in relationships, on the street or on the five o'clock news, these Laws are exerted everywhere. Whether your interest is conquest, self-defense or simply being an educated spectator, The 48 Laws of Power will be the most important book you buy this year. Buy Now
Most Read Last Week
6 Forces That Fuel Friendship—There are six forces that help form friendships and maintain them through the years.
LaMDA—A Google engineer Blake Lemoine, who works for Google’s Responsible AI organization, began talking to LaMDA, an artificial intelligence chatbot, as part of his job in the fall. He’s convinced that it’s sentient.
Life Learnings—Here are some life learnings from legendary tech journalist Kevin Kelly, who shared wisdom for his 68th, 69th and 70th birthdays.
Funding Fridays is a briefing about the data and trends in startup funding. I send it out on the first Friday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Web3 Impact is a briefing I co-write with Banks Benitez about how Web3 is making the world a better place. We send it out on the third Thursday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Web3 Impact.
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.
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. –Elbert Hubbard
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