Weekend Briefing No. 470
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Did your brilliant friend share this with you?
517,000—The U.S. added 517,000 jobs last month, per the Department of Labor’s January jobs report published on Friday. Although economists predicted an increase of 185,000 jobs, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, its lowest level since 1969.
100,000,000—Chat GPT hit 100 million users in two months, making it the fastest-growing consumer app of all time.
18%—Eighteen percent of the youngest workers—Gen Z adults—and 15% of Millennials reported that they would feel happy about a layoff.
Less is More
Last month, a group of nine lawmakers in Maryland’s House of Delegates proposed a new bill that would provide tax credits to specific employers within the state that agree to try out a 32-hour workweek (versus the conventional 40 hours) with no loss of pay for employees. Its sponsor said the bill was inspired by a recent study from nonprofit 4 Day Week Global and Boston College, which took 33 companies through a six-month pilot program of a four-day workweek. Despite less hours being worked, average revenue at participating companies rose 38% when compared to the same period last year, per the survey. After the six-month pilot was over, none of the 27 companies that responded reverted back to five-day workweeks. Boston College (15 minutes)
Would you want to try the 4-day work week at your company? Do you think you’d be as productive?
You already know about Formula 1. The car racing sport is famous around the world and is skyrocketing in popularity in the U.S. in part because of the Netflix series Drive To Survive. But Formula 1 has a problem. More cars that we drive are going fully electric, and the cars that they drive … aren’t. That matters because the real reason F1 gets all this money and attention is that big companies are investing in and advertising their cutting edge tech. If that tech gets outdated, it loses the point and the extra investment. What is the future of car racing? If it’s electric, does F1 change? Or, is someone else going to get there first? Enter Formula E, the all-electric Formula 1. This video explores the future of car racing, explaining Formula E’s amazing tech and wild rules, and breaks down the drama within one of the world’s most popular and expensive sports. (Also, I think this may be my new favorite YouTube channel.) Huge If True (15 minutes)
Passive Income, Really
Imagine this- being able to invest in single-family real estate without the everyday hassles of actually being a landlord. No worries about leasing your property, collecting rent each month, or managing maintenance requests. No stressing over complex spreadsheets or legal documents. It may sound too good to be true, but Mynd exists to offer real estate investors exactly that, a way to manage single-family rental properties without the stress. Mynd has you covered with experts in 25+ cities nationwide. But don’t worry you can still check in on your portfolio anytime from anywhere with Mynd’s investor app. Let Mynd do more so you can focus on what matters most to you. Mynd (Sponsored)
Walmart and the Economy
What can tracking one Walmart store's prices for years teach us about the economy? 1) Shrinkflation is real. Shrinkflation is "inflation's devious cousin," to cite NPR's Planet Money. It allows for higher prices to hide in plain sight—fewer chips in a bag or tissues in a box—without scaring shoppers away. 2) But mostly, prices just increased. Since 2019, some of the products with the biggest price increases were: Paper Mate mechanical pencil +86%, Quaker Oats +73% and eggs +66%. 3) Surprise! Some prices stayed the same, or even fell. Electronics were among the counter-inflationary highlights of last year, as supply-chain backlogs resolved and stores found themselves overstocked. NPR (5 minutes)
The Honorable GPT
A judge in Colombia used ChatGPT to make a court ruling, in what is apparently the first time a legal decision has been made with the help of an AI text generator—or at least, the first time we know about it. Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia, who presides over the First Circuit Court in the city of Cartagena, said he used the AI tool to pose legal questions about the case and included its responses in his decision, according to a court document dated January 30, 2023. Garcia included the chatbot’s full responses in the decision, apparently marking the first time a judge has admitted to doing so. The judge also included his own insights into applicable legal precedents and said the AI was used to "extend the arguments of the adopted decision." After detailing the exchanges with the AI, the judge then adopts its responses and his own legal arguments as grounds for its decision. VICE (5 minutes)
Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest 10 times, the most ascents ever by a woman. Unlike the routines of most climbers, who drop into specialized training for months or even years, Lhakpa’s training regimen took place at a Whole Foods in West Hartford, Connecticut, where she carried large stacks of boxed fruits and vegetables. Occasionally, she hiked to the top of the 6,288-foot Mount Washington, a meager stand-in for the highest mountain on earth. Growing up in the foothills of the Himalayas, she could see Everest from her village. While herding yaks high in the mountains, she bumped into Sherpa men in technical clothing with ropes and ice axes, preparing to climb the mountain. She vowed to become one of them, even though Sherpa women were not offered those jobs. New York Times (8 minutes)
Here are some fun tips about living differently: 1) Identify small purchases that make you happy, and don’t feel guilty about spending money on them. Ignore financial experts who tell you to save by not buying coffee or minor indulgences. Those purchases are not going to make a difference in your long-term financial goals, but they can have an impact on your immediate happiness. 2) Avoid activities you pursue entirely for the sake of status or prestige. This will be your downfall—or at least it will leave you feeling discouraged. 3) Make a list of what you know to be true. Update the list once in a while as your beliefs evolve. 4) Successful people use systems, but the systems they use tend to vary. You don’t necessarily need to get up early, meditate for 10 minutes a day, avoid checking email in the morning or whatever else the productivity trend is. You do need to figure out how you do your best work, and then make any changes you can to support those conditions. The Art of Non-Conformity (5 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 one-on-one call with me.
Check out my other briefings: Founder Fridays and Web3 Impact.
Quality is not an act, it is a habit. -Aristotle
Re: 4-day work week, I run an education non-profit and adopted new business hours: Monday 12pm to Friday 12pm to address the "Sunday night blues" that many of us felt and to give people a head start on their weekend. We thought this would be good for people's mental health and speculated that these might be the two periods of the week with lowest productivity. In practice, we often work through those hours anyway, but it definitely created a little space and slack in our otherwise hard-charging work culture
With "Block" scheduling more common these days, I think it could be done (or at least every other week you get three days. It might mean longer classes during the other four days because current public education rules specify "hours in class" as a metric for student success. Kind of a lame one but so be it.