March 08, 2013 by Chad Biggs

What We're Reading

Plagues. Technology aging theories. Charter school lotteries. Lost tribes of the Amazon. Clearly we’re not afraid to get our nerd on this week…

Jessica Flynn
Sheryl Sandberg Launches ‘Lean In’ Organization As A Global Community For Workplace Equality: It’s not enough to merely be a voice, putting those words into actions matter. Was happy to see the next iteration of Sheryl Sandberg’s compelling TED talk –Why we have too few women leaders. She’s taken her message forward, quite literally, with this week’s launch of “Lean In,” a non-profit organization aimed at creating a global community that encourages women to continue to be active and ambitious in their careers even as they start families. As a woman in the business world surrounded by other women seeking to balance professional ambition and personal choices, it’s a compelling conversation and I look forward to engaging with Lean In.

Your Brain on Divorce: It’s been fascinating to follow the hyper-speed ride that the Boise co-founders of Wevorce find themselves on. With a mission of ‘changing divorce for good,’ Michelle and Jeff are launching their company while participating in Ycombinator. Loved getting to see Michelle’s insights on what drives our emotional behavior and response this week in a blog post on the Huffington Post:

“Basically, emotion is stronger than thought. Our minds process extreme threats, whether physical or emotional, in the same way. It doesn’t matter if we’re face-to-face with an angry grizzly or a former spouse, our fight or flight mechanism kicks in. It’s a very primitive response that comes from one of the deepest parts of our brains, the amygdalae. That’s the place where many of our memories and emotions live. I’ve come to call this the “puppy brain.”


Karianne Fallow
Starbucks plans no changes as sugary drink limits go into effect in NYC: I was reading this article while drinking my double tall non-fat latte yesterday. Having worked in the food and retail industry for 15 years, I have been watching with close interest the New York City sugary drink ban. It’s fascinating on so many levels— regulating an otherwise legal product, setting arbitrary standards, drawing local boundaries around a national epidemic like obesity and how/ if the private sector will be able to comply.

When Starbucks announced that they don’t have enough clarity to stop selling their 20 ounce drinks (“venti” size for those of us who are regulars), it’s clear that even at implementation, the rule is so onerous that companies are taking varying positions on it. Unfortunately, for the supporters, there will be little consistency. For the opponents, it seems that there’s still a long way to go to more fully understand how implementation and enforcement will work. This issue is by no means over. But, I do like the fact that Starbucks is making a vocal and public statement about their position on the issue.

Christina Lenkowski
Eyes on the Prize: Charter school lotteries are lessons in hope and disappointment: I find this article fascinating as people are really becoming more and more interested in finding alternate forms of education, separate from traditional public high schools. Because Charter Schools aren’t an additional cost to parents, they are becoming extremely popular. No moreso than here in Boise it seems…

Justin Nyquist
Dan Pallotta shared a bold new idea at TED2013: We need to change the way we judge nonprofits. After creating charity initiatives that raised more than $300 million dollars for HIV and breast cancer, his nonprofit went bankrupt. He explains why we need to change our views on the way that nonprofits are operated. This TED talk and blog really struck me because we here at Red Sky often do work with nonprofits. Pallotta makes some great insights into the inner-workings of nonprofits, and how the public should rethink the criteria for judging a nonprofit’s success.

Who doesn’t love a good plague story?! In the weekly “ew! Gross!” news category, the annual migration of the locust swarms has now moved from Egypt into Israel. This is only making headlines because the swarm is a bit larger than most years, and because it strikes a Biblical plague chord with many people. This story just reminds me how glad I am that we here in Boise don’t have to deal with swarms of anything, except good times. Knock on wood.


Amanda Watson
The Mayor Will Save You Now: Arguably America’s favorite and most talked-about Mayor, Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey gets personal and discusses his path to Newark, the struggles of his community, and his own personal battles and triumphs with his health. The article explores Booker's decision to be a model as the nation, and his community, faces a growing health crisis.

The Lost Tribes of the Amazon: Deep within the South American rainforest, several indigenous tribes remain determined to maintain their isolated and archaic way of life. The article highlights the history of discoveries of lost Amazonian tribes, including the Yuri, thought to have been an extinct tribe until a recent Cessna fly-over. Smithsonian emphasizes the great lengths these lost tribes go to in order to preserve their lifestyle, habituating deep within the jungle and living far from the public eye.

The Resource Curse Will Survive Hugo Chavez: With the recent death of Chavez, Venezuela’s future doesn’t necessarily look like a beacon of hope. With oil reserves rivaling those of Saudi Arabia and a country with one of the largest deficits in the world (thanks to Chavez), John Cassidy of The New Yorker takes a look at the problems that may arise for Venezuela while sitting on a wealth of natural resources that in poor countries often leads to political corruption, conflict and in some cases, war.

Chad Biggs
What to pay the writer/reporter, if you’re into that: The Intertubes hosted another extended yelling match about the future of journalism/content this week and whether anyone can/should put a pricetag on any of it. Latest brouhaha comes courtesy of Nate Thayer vs. The Atlantic, when a new editor asked if they could republish his piece on North Korea’s love of the round ball (and how it factors into diplomacy efforts). The catch – they asked him to shorten it without any offer of compensation beyond syndication. Given the way content is repurposed/curated/lifted these days without that process involved and that Thayer is already a well-established journalist, this was a misstep that the Atlantic apologized for… after Thayer published the correspondence. And now he’s being accused of plagiarizing for an added twist. The more interesting debate, in my opinion, revolves around the value of content and whether dollars truly drive quality. Insightful arguments from (The new economics of media: If you want free content, there’s an almost infinite supply) and PandoDaily (The future of journalism: It’s time to pick a side). I’m hopeful that The Onion will do a piece on North Korea test-launching Rodman as far as possible…

Who earns $$$ from your & your kid’s data?: Departing from the above, a well-sourced and hyperlink filled article from ProPublica - Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You. It seems like a decade ago, because it was, but I was heckled for being the last of my friends to adopt a cell phone. My standard excuse was the expanded ability to track location. Now our utter reliance on data connections makes nearly every move trackable, online and off. Now I’m older and far more boring than my cell holdout days, so my paranoia has shifted to what will happen to the information produced by my kids thanks to this Reuters article: K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents.

How Not to Lose a Sale I first learned of Peter Bregman around the time he published 18 Minutes, read the book and did my best to incorporate some of his insights. While many changes are easier said than done, I really value his tight, concise writing. He gets to the point quickly but offers enough insight and background to make it memorable and applicable to you. His latest is another good reminder of why it is better to listen even when you think you’ve done your homework and feel you know the story. You never know what you will miss by hearing it directly from the source.

Doug Self
The Surprising Truth: Technology is Aging in Reverse: I’ve been contemplating technology lifespans, adoption and how analog fits in our digital world lately, and this article has some interesting related hypotheses. Primarily, that the longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live. The piece is an excerpt from Nassim Taleb’s (author of the acclaimed book, The Black Swan) latest book, Antifragile, which looks like it will be another fascinating read.

Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost One of the larger ongoing story lines, to the surprise of absolutely no one, is Facebook is trying to make money. If it is true they are withholding clicks or results until they are paid to promote the brand in question, they’ll likely find themselves in the midst of a backlash. Mark Cuban brought this up a couple months ago and it is tested and seemingly proved here by NYTimes’ Nick Bilton.


Tagged With: What We're Reading, Technology, Industry Insights, Things We Love