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Best Reads of the Week – 05/17/19

This week’s highlights:  College Admissions, Impactful Venture Capital, and Urban Retirement

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Fifteen on Friday – Issue 332

Quote to ponder – Thanks Chris M for highlighting this one:

“A society grows great when [the old] plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.” 
– Greek Proverb



Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  Vox – The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean

Why It Matters:  Given all the recent scandals, this is an interesting look inside the process of college admissions.

Consider as well:

  1. VanityFair – Why Is Gen Z Obsessed with The Office?  Netflix viewers spent 52 billion minutes on the show. Billie Eilish sampled an episode on her debut album. And Angela and Kevin are Instagram influencers. What gives?
  2. GQ – GQ’s Best New Restaurants in America, 2019
  3. Outside – 4 Laws of Muscle  The protein and muscle guru Luc van Loon wants you to bulk up—and keep what you’ve got.
  4. NYT – The Rise of the Haphazard Self  How working-class men detach from work, family and church.


Top Read of the Week:  Forbes – Greedy VC Doesn’t Pay: But Impact Does

Why It Matters:  I personally have long been of the view that this is a compelling opportunity to do both good and make great returns.  Here’s a proof point of a top-quartile VC portfolio that saw greater than 50% of portfolio companies founded by women or people of color.

Consider as well:

  1. II – The Radical, Lucrative, and Controversial Company Hiding in Stephen Schwarzman’s Pocket
  2. CNN – The internet didn’t shrink 6% real estate commissions. But this lawsuit might
  3. Moneyness – Kyle Bass’s big nickel bet  What do you do with a million nickels?
  4. IBJ – A hard-to-digest reality: Steak n Shake might not make it


Top Read of the Week:  NYT – A Quiet Retirement? No Thanks, They’ll Take Herald Square

Why It Matters:    “A former mayor of San Antonio and his wife have found this busy crossroads to be the ideal retirement destination.”

Consider as well:

  1. MIT – “Magic: The Gathering” is officially the world’s most complex game  A new proof with important implications for game theory shows that no algorithm can possibly determine the winner.
  2. QZ – How Exactly Stitch Fix’S “Tinder For Clothes” Learns Your Style
  3. Outside – The Nature Cure  Grassroots Movement Of Physicians Are Prescribing Time Outdoors As The Best Possible Cure For A Growing List Of Ailments. Can They Really Convince Big Health Care That Free Medicine Is The Way Of The Future?
  4. Hustle – The professor who beat roulette  How a renowned researcher beat the odds, stumped casino owners around the world, and walked away with a fortune.

Best Reads – Week of 5/10/19

This week’s highlights:  Fleece Vests, Uber’s IPO, and Scooter Economics


Fifteen on Friday – Issue 331

Happy Friday,


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  NewYorker – Goldman Sachs, Patagonia, and the Mysteries of “Business Casual”

Why It Matters:  Patagonia’s shot across the bow to limit access to their famed fleece vests at financial institutions has ruffled all kinds of feathers.  The New Yorker takes a more retrospective look at the fleece vest as a modern-day take on the waistcoat of the three piece suit.  With that context, a humble vest ascends to a level of status / class signalling not immediately apparent.

Consider as well:

  1. FS – Decoding Difficult Conversations: Interview with Negotiation Expert, Sheila Heen  Phenomenal interview from Shane Parish of Farnam Street – Two time NY Times best selling author and lecturer at Harvard Law School, Sheila Heen makes the tough talks easier by breaking down the three layers that make up every difficult conversation.
  2. HuffPo – I Can’t Answer These Texas Standardized Test Questions About My Own Poems
  3. NYT – As Mainstays Depart, Charleston Asks Where Its Restaurant Scene Is Headed  Hominy Grill has closed. Sean Brock is gone. Tourism and prices are booming. What does all that portend for this influential food city?
  4. PoF – The 10 Percent Rule: Limiting Lifestyle Creep.  Feel free to disagree with the precise percentages, but this seems like a reasonable conceptual framework to manage the sometimes ill-effects of creeping prosperity.


Top Read of the Week:  Bloomberg – The Uber IPO Day Is Finally Here

Why It Matters:  Uber’s IPO today raises many interesting questions, and Bloomberg’s Matt Levine calls out several in this piece.  The short answer is that there are many people who bought shares in the company from 2015 to today that would have out-performed by owning the S&P 500.

Consider as well:

  1. NYT – It’s Time to Break Up Facebook – So says one of the company’s original founders in this NY Times op-ed.
  2. Bloomberg – Harvard Piles Into Hedge Funds as New Chief Overhauls Endowment
  3. TheAtlantic – Stock Picks From Space  Investors are using real-time satellite images to predict retailers’ sales. Is that cheating?
  4. Economist – Why companies are so bad at hiring  For one thing, they recruit too many employees from outside their ranks


Top Read of the Week:  LATimes – Can Bird build a better scooter before it runs out of cash?

Why It Matters:  Bird, Lime, and the other scooter start-ups are facing serious challenges.  This piece looks at the simple reality that much of the scooter equipment deployed on the streets does not last anywhere near long enough to cover costs much less generate an economic return.

Consider as well:

  1. NYT – Rihanna, Breaking New Ground, Joins With LVMH for Fashion Brand  There are so many firsts in the creation of Fenty, a new luxury house based in Paris, that it’s hard to keep track.
  2. VM – AirPods Are a Tragedy  Apple claims that AirPods are building a “wireless future.” Many people think they’re a symbol of disposable wealth. The truth is bleaker.
  3. NYT – Book the Table, Then Buy the Plane Tickets  For some travelers, trips are built around reservations at restaurants with Michelin stars or a place on the annual 50 Best Restaurants list.
  4. Vox – The productivity pit: how Slack is ruining work  Job software like Teams, Slack, and Workplace were supposed to make us more productive. They haven’t.
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