Weekend Briefing No. 452
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Check out my October playlist. It’s mostly folk. I hope you enjoy it.
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1,000—Fat Bear Week has begun. In this March Madness-style tournament, bears from the Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska are matched against each other, with online visitors voting to determine who's the chunkiest of them all. Last year's winner, 480 Otis, was estimated to weigh north of 1,000 pounds.
75%—The rates of people having their first marriages in midlife (ages 40–59) increased 75% for women and 45% for men from 1990 to 2019.
6%—There is a water crisis in the American West causing many citizens to cut back usage. But only 6% of the water used in the American West is for residential use. What happens to the other 94%?
Pessimism sounds smart. Optimism sounds dumb. It’s no wonder, then, that pessimistic messages hit the headlines, and optimistic ones hardly get a middle-page snippet. It’s why doomsday thinkers get respect and accolades. They’re the smart ones that can see what the rest of us can’t. They’re the ones that speak truth to power. There is an “optimism stigma” that is pervasive throughout society. But the world desperately needs more optimism to make progress, so I should stop being so shy about it. People mistakenly see optimism as an excuse for inaction. They think that it’s pessimism that drives change, and optimism that keeps us where we are. The opposite is true. Optimists are the ones that move us forward. They are the innovators; the entrepreneurs; the ones willing to put their reputation, money and time on the line because they see an opportunity to solve a problem. Big Think (10 minutes)
Business and Society
Companies talk the talk of creating stakeholder value, but most don’t walk the talk. In this article, the author outlines two major reasons why—an insular financial sector and stock buybacks—and describes a new model for a truly symbiotic relationship among business, government and citizens. For this model to succeed, business and government in particular need to address three key questions: What should we create? How should we evaluate social impact? And how should we share? Harvard Business Review (12 minutes)
Design and Functionality
Your website is often your company’s first impression for a potential client, and it’s the only member of your sales team working 24/7—validating your value proposition and educating each prospect. Would you keep a salesperson not functioning at full capacity or who simply couldn’t tell your story effectively? Eighty-eight percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. It’s time to take a look at your website performance. As a long-term web partner for Westaway and the Weekend Briefing, GruffyGoat delivers high-end design and functionality for an affordable price. I can also attest that they’re also great to work with. GruffyGoat (Sponsored)
Culture Market Fit
The secret to building a successful technology company is culture-market fit (CMF). CMF is that blissful intersection of an opportunity in the market with a culture that can execute on said opportunity. Allow me to clarify: CMF occurs when an organization matches with an opportunity, and the organization’s culture allows the right strategies and process to occur, allowing them to capture said opportunity. Sometimes that will mean giving employees lots of freedom (Google) and sometimes that will mean micro-managing people (Amazon), but the important thing is that the culture cultivated correctly addresses the market opportunity. A company’s culture is a vibe, an ethos, that permeates every slide deck, every product decision, every analysis. When there is no clear right answer (which is always) the culture-market fit is what drives decisions. Culture-market fit is more important than product-market fit because it precludes any product decision. Culture is the deep understanding of your customers, the people you hire to serve those customers, and the approach those individuals use to serve customers. Having CMF means that your organization’s design, product and operating mandate match the market opportunity. Every (10 minutes)
Four Types of Luck
There are four types of luck or chance. Chance I is completely impersonal; you can’t influence it. Chance II favors those who have a persistent curiosity about many things, coupled with an energetic willingness to experiment and explore. Chance III favors those who have a sufficient background of sound knowledge plus special abilities in observing, remembering, recalling and quickly forming significant new associations. Chance IV favors those with distinctive—if not eccentric—hobbies, personal lifestyles and motor behaviors. This of course leads to a number of challenges for how we live our lives as entrepreneurs and creators in any field: How energetic are we? How curious are we? How flexible and aggressive are we at synthesizing—at linking together multiple, disparate, apparently unrelated experiences on the fly? How uniquely are we developing a personal point of view—a personal approach—a personal set of “eccentric hobbies, personal lifestyles and motor behaviors” that will uniquely prepare us to create? Pmarchive (9 minutes)
The IKEA Effect
The IKEA effect is a finding that people tend to ascribe a higher valuation toward self-assembled products compared to objectively similar products, which they did not assemble. Here are four ways you can avoid and defend against the IKEA effect. (1) Acknowledging you are prone to the cognitive bias of the IKEA effect can be the most effective way to mitigate against it. (2) Spike rough prototypes to test ideas early. Embrace sharing ideas that you are embarrassed with so it will be easier to cull. (3) Talk to customers. Framing your solutions and efforts toward the customer struggle can help mitigate your bias against any one solution. (4) Growth experiments can help mitigate against confirmation bias by setting the discipline to state the problem statement, hypothesis and success criteria upfront before expending effort on a solution. Mannhowie (8 minutes)
Here are some tips on better storytelling: (1) Most stories start with 10 minutes of backstory. Instead, try a “cold open”—jump straight into the action. Create intrigue then incorporate the backstory later. (2) Layer on the drama. When you don’t think something can get worse, make it worse. When your character is facing adversity and their back is against the wall, you have the makings of a great story. (3) Build to one moment. The entire story should be designed to amplify one moment. But what is the moment about? Change—I once was this, but now I’m this. @nathanbaugh27 (5 minutes)
Move Fast. Don’t Break Things.
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders 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.
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected. –Steve Jobs
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