Weekend Briefing No. 458
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend. I’m wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you take time to express your gratitude to your friends and family this week.
Did your brilliant friend forward this to you?
30,000—About 30,000 hectares of Canada are devoted exclusively to Christmas tree farming.
$19.62—New York City cabs are cranking up prices. As a result, the average taxi ride will jump from $15.97 to $19.62.
432,834—The formation of new businesses is still up, growing 1.2% in October in the United States. That month, there were 432,834 business applications, roughly flat compared to the 430,737 applications filed in the same month of 2021.
Humans have been around for about 300,000 years. It wasn’t until the 1800s that we hit 1 billion people on the planet. We hit 2 billion around the Great Depression. This week, we crossed the 8 billion mark. That’s really rapid growth, if you think about it. But here are some interesting population facts to think about: 1) We’ve already hit peak child expectancy; there will never again be more children alive than there are today, with fertility rates plummeting across the globe. 2) We’re getting older, which means there are fewer people able to work to support more people who can’t. 3) The UN projects the world population will reach about 10.4 billion in the 2080s. From there, it’s set to plateau for a couple of decades before falling around the turn of the 22nd century. ABC (11 minutes)
Everyone has experienced flow—that state of mind where you’re “in the zone” and able to perform tasks optimally with little conscious effort. In flow, time seems to pass differently. Your deep-seated skills take over and run on autopilot. You might even find that you’re able to successfully perform tasks at a level that was previously out of reach. Flow is naturally rewarding. Whether it’s playing baseball, programming or writing a novel, we have some of our best experiences and do some of our best work while we’re in flow states. So how can you best take advantage of flow? Researchers have identified 22 “flow triggers” that can catalyze flow states by either preparing yourself or your environment for them. In this video, researcher and writer Steven Kotler explains how to utilize flow triggers, and also how to understand the intrinsic motivators that drive flow states. Big Think (7 minutes)
Designing for Everyone
Twenty-six percent of the US population is living with some type of disability. That’s over one in four people who could become frustrated and leave if they can’t easily use your website or app. Accessibility is no longer an option—and it’s essential to good design. Glance (Sponsored)
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know that one of the technologies I believe will most shape the future is CRISPR—a new area of biomedical science that enables gene editing and could be the key to eventually curing diseases like autism or cancer. In this video, biologist Neville Sanjana explains this concept to five different people; a 7-year-old, a 14-year-old, a college student, a grad student and a CRISPR expert. Check it out. WIRED (16 minutes)
Should I Start a Startup?
I talk to many people thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship. This video from Y Combinator is one of the best pieces of content I’ve seen on helping understand whether being a founder is right for you. Here are some interesting insights: 1) Resilience is the most important quality in a founder. Launching a startup means pushing through a lot of rejection. Counterintuitively, a founder that appears confident isn’t necessarily resilient. 2) Initial motivation doesn’t matter much. To stick with the startup over a long-time horizon, your initial motivation is less important than being genuinely interested in the problem and loving the people you’re working with. Y Combinator (17 minutes)
Here are some tips for finding clarity at career crossroads. There are countless studies that have proven the benefits of reminding yourself of what you value. Doing so has been shown to lead to better learning outcomes in school, more decisive decision-making and higher levels of resilience. 2) Learn through action, not rumination. Rather than try to perform endless thought experiments to gain clarity, we can choose a direction and then create the reasons for why we did so. That is to say instead of making the right choice, we have the power through our actions to make the choice right. Every (7 minutes)
Very Important and Hard to Teach
The most important decisions in your life may be whether to marry, who to marry and whether to have kids. But none of those topics are taught in school. They’re hardly even discussed. How could they be? They aren’t problems you can distill down to an equation or even a broad principle. This article is an interesting list of such topics, including: 1) How to recognize that your own views would be different if you were born in a different country or era. 2) How to manage the balance between confidence and ego, recognizing that you might be unique but you’re not special. 3) How to accept your own faults without guilt. 4) How to change your mind, especially about things that were once core to your identity. Collab Fund (4 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
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 flat, 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 1-on-1 call with me.
Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. –Colin Powell