Weekend Briefing No. 484
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Did your brilliant friend share this with you? Subscribe below.
29,400,000,000 – Dubai is the city where tourist spend the most money. In 2022 tourists spent $29.4B. New York was number 8 on the list at $12.5B.
50 – 50% of U.S. mothers have no retirement savings.
27 – This week Kami Rita Sherpa, a 53-year old Nepali sherpa has scaled Mount Everest for a record 27th time, beating his own record.
Goalfusion occurs when we become fixated on a particular dream for our future and obsessed with closing the gap between our dreams and reality. This disconnects us from the work we’re doing in the present and makes it difficult to recognize when our dreams are leading us off course. For instance, a bootstrapped founder who keeps working on an idea long after it fails to gain traction, burning through savings and going into debt; a starving artist who refuses to find part-time work because they believe they must go all-in to be successful; and a CEO of a Series A/B/C company who drives the company off a cliff, unwilling to see evidence that their vision is flawed. In all of these examples, the person has become so attached to their dream that they fail to adapt, even when reality provides evidence that the dream isn’t feasible. How do we know if a dream is helping us or hurting us? Here are some signs to watch out for: (1) Narrowing of identity—when you feel like you are your project and you would not be okay in your life or career if your project failed. (2) Avoiding contact with reality—when you stop publishing your work, avoid talking to customers, or delay releasing a product for fear of piercing your fantasies around a project. (3) Loss of meaning in the present—when you are so focused on the extrinsic outcome of your work that you lose touch with day-to-day opportunities for meaning. (4) Tunnel vision—when you become so consumed by your project that you miss out on other things you care about, such as family and health. If you are noticing some or all of these signs, your attachment to your dreams may be obstructing your progress in life and work, and it may be time to let go. For more information, check out the article here (11 minutes).
What about you? Have you ever given up on a dream? How did you know it was time to quit? Was it a good or bad decision for you?
AI the New McKinsey
Perhaps we should view A.I. as a management-consulting firm, similar to McKinsey & Company. Social media companies use machine learning to keep users engaged with their feeds. Similarly, Purdue Pharma used McKinsey to determine how to "turbocharge" sales of OxyContin during the opioid epidemic. A.I. promises to provide managers with an inexpensive alternative to human workers, just as McKinsey and similar firms helped make mass layoffs a standard practice for increasing stock prices and executive compensation, contributing to the decline of the middle class in America. A former McKinsey employee referred to the company as "capital's willing executioners": if you want something done but don't want to get your hands dirty, McKinsey will do it for you. Avoiding accountability is one of the most valuable services that management consultancies offer. Bosses have certain objectives but don't want to be blamed for taking the necessary steps to achieve them. By hiring consultants, management can claim to have simply followed independent expert advice. Even in its current basic form, A.I. allows a company to avoid responsibility by claiming that it's simply doing what "the algorithm" says, even though the company commissioned the algorithm in the first place. New Yorker (16 minutes)
Spoiler Alert: There’s Still Trouble with Impact Investing
To be blunt, the data is in: few problems have been truly solved by impact investing, and returns have been nominal at best. Proof of this abounds, like the so-called “Opportunity Zone” investments, which research has shown to be “costly and poorly targeted and (have) done little to create jobs or improve conditions in poor communities while providing massive tax benefits to wealthy investors”. Intended to spur investment in low-income and undercapitalized communities, they have instead subsidized investments in communities with relatively higher incomes, home values, and better schoole. Most practitioners working in community development have accepted this as the reality of impact investing: the harder you drive for social impact in disadvantaged communities, the farther away you get from unbuffered full market return. But the hype persists. And It doesn’t have to be this way. A recent article in SSIR suggests a different path forward. DRK Foundation (Sponsored)
The future of space food may be as simple and strange as a protein shake made from astronaut breath or a burger made of fungus. For decades, astronauts have mostly relied on pre-packaged food or the occasional grown lettuce during their missions off Earth. However, with the prospect of missions beyond Earth's orbit in sight, a NASA-led competition hopes to change this and usher in a new era of sustainable space food. One of the eight US-based finalists, Air Company, based in New York, took a particularly unconventional approach to the challenge. They designed a system that could use the carbon dioxide expelled by astronauts in space to produce alcohol, which could then be used to grow edible food. MIT Technology Review (5 minutes)
Writing and Wisdom
Whenever you sit down to write, you are making a commitment to reflect on the nature of things. Writing anything can feel sluggish at first; you're dusting off the cobwebs on your ideas and realizing how difficult it is to piece them together. The ideas may feel disjointed, and the mixing of personal experience with other people's observations can be confusing and puzzling. However, if you stay committed to the practice, the once-scattered pieces start melding into something concrete. The real utility of the practice is revealed when you face problems that you've already addressed in your work. You realize that you already know how to handle the difficult challenges that await you. The power of writing is not about the praise you receive from others; it's about the realization that a kinder and wiser version of yourself is accessible whenever you need that person the most. More to That (12 minutes)
In an email to himself, Steve Jobs emphasized how much we depend on each other. He noted that he doesn't grow much of the food he eats, nor did he breed or perfect the seeds he uses. He doesn't make his own clothing, invent or refine the language he speaks, or discover the mathematics he uses. He benefits from freedoms and laws he didn't conceive of or legislate, and from music he didn't create. When he needed medical attention, he was unable to help himself. Additionally, he didn't invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object-oriented programming, or most of the technology he worked with. He loved and admired humanity, both living and dead, and acknowledged that he was totally dependent on them for his life and well-being. Make Something Wonderful (32 minutes)
Histography is an interactive timeline that covers 14 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to 2015. Each event is represented by a dot. Clicking on a dot allows you to go to the corresponding Wikipedia page or see related events. It's a fun tool to play with and can take around 30 minutes to explore. Check it out. Histography (30 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 Founder Fridays - A Friday morning briefing helping founders scale smarter.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. -Steve Jobs