What is Fifteen on Friday?

Fifteen on Friday (Fof) is a weekly newsletter that is delivered every Friday afternoon directly to your inbox.  The goal is to curate a thoughtful list of the most interesting pieces of the week, across a wide range of subjects from arts, culture, economics, science, technology and occasionally fashion.

Top Articles This Week – 02/15/19 Edition

This week’s highlights:  Confidence vs. Competence at School, JPMorgan’s Crypto Play, Quitting the Tech Giants.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Fifteen on Friday – Issue 320

Happy Friday,


Food for Thought:

Top Read of the Week:  NYT – Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office

Why It Matters:  “Hard work and discipline help girls outperform boys in class, but that advantage disappears in the work force. Is school the problem? We need to ask: What if school is a confidence factory for our sons, but only a competence factory for our daughters?”

Consider as well:

  1. WSJ – Preparing for a Good End of Life – Credit TP – The best way to achieve a peaceful death is by planning ahead and enlisting the help of loved ones
  2. Vox – The Tinder algorithm, explained  Some math-based advice for those still swiping this Valentine’s Day.
  3. Bloomberg – Things I Never Knew About Skiing Until I Was a Private Instructor in Aspen   Slopeside shenanigans, gallons of sprayed Champagne, celebrities behaving badly, and… ski gangs? It’s all in a day’s work at Aspen.
  4. INC – Public Speaking Is No Longer a ‘Soft Skill.’ It’s Your Key to Success in Any Field – Credit PB – Great persuaders have a competitive edge in the age of ideas.



Top Read of the Week:  NYT – JPMorgan Chase Moves to Be First Big U.S. Bank With Its Own Cryptocurrency

Why It Matters:   I have long been of the view that Blockchain was the “killer app,” not Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.  In concurrence with that thesis, this week JPMorgan announces a new proprietary coin, pegged to the USD, that can be used for the instant settlement of large money movements – on a platform that moves trillions of dollars around the globe each day.

Consider as well:

  1. Economist – A new law decrees French supermarkets must get greedier  The agriculture ministry is forcing retailers to raise the price of staple foods
  2. Stratechery – Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play
  3. BoF – Digital Media: What Went Wrong  The digital publishing industry took a big hit in recent days, when more than 1,000 employees were laid off at BuzzFeed, AOL, Yahoo and HuffPost.
  4. BBC – Finland basic income trial left people ‘happier but jobless’


Top Read of the Week: Gizmodo – I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell

Why It Matters:   Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple control the modern digital life.  What is fascinating about this article is while there are obvious ways we all interface with these companies, but when you incorporate their cloud services (AWS, Azure, etc) a huge portion of the apps we rely on are tied into their ecosystems.

Consider as well:

  1. Hodinkee – Twelve Mistakes New Watch Guys Make, And How To Avoid Them (From Someone Who’s Been There)
  2. ESPN – The ugly — and, yes, slightly gross — truth of stadium bathrooms
  3. Forbes – This Dutch Startup Converts Heat Into Cold Via A Stirling Engine, And Could Just Save The Planet
  4. Engadget – Sonar drone discovers long-lost WWII aircraft carrier USS Hornet  The late Paul Allen’s expedition has found the famous ship 77 years later.

Top Articles This Week – 02/08/19 Edition

This week’s highlights:  Alternative Milk, Furniture Design and Cars, A New View on Alzheimers.


Fifteen on Friday – 02/08/19 – Issue 319

Food for Thought:

Top Read of the Week:  TheGuardian – White gold: the unstoppable rise of alternative milks  

Why It Matters:  When did the milk cooler become like shopping the toothpaste aisle?  A staggering amount of new choices have invaded this once staid part of the grocery store.  How wellness upstarts spoiled milk’s healthy reputation – and built a billion-dollar industry from juicing oats and nuts.”

Consider as well:

  1. Vox – No online shopping company can figure out how to quit this one plastic bag  Polybags touch almost everything you order online.
  2. HBR – Treat Your Weekend Like A Vacation  Take a moment to recall how you felt at work on a recent Monday. Were you happy and satisfied? Or stressed and worried?
  3. NYT – Let Children Get Bored Again  Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency.
  4. VF – Secrets of the Chateau Marmont  As the ultimate movie-colony clubhouse turns 90, Mark Rozzo prowls among the bungalows and crannies off Sunset Boulevard where mega-stars and ne’er-do-wells, from Garbo and Harlow to Lindsay and Britney, have whiled away nearly a century of enchanted evenings.


Top Read of the Week:  TheAtlantic – Why Ford Hired a Furniture Maker as CEO 

Why It Matters:   The rest of the world seems to be catching up to what Steve Jobs and boutique consultant Ipreo (known for designing the computer mouse amongst other things) have known for decades, design thinking can dramatically influence how successful a company is.  Just this past fall, McKinsey published a lengthy thought piece on the Business Value of Design.  Bill Ford seems to be acutely aware of this judging by who now sits in the CEO chair at the Ford Motor Company.

Consider as well:

  1. NYT – How a ‘Monster’ Texas Oil Field Made the U.S. a Star in the World Market  Innovation, investment and inviting geology have given new life to an oil patch that once seemed spent. The oil field is now the world’s second most productive.
  2. Bloomberg – The Golden Age of Hollywood Tax Avoidance  Do you really think Bing Crosby and Bob Hope paid 90 percent of their income to the taxman?
  3. YCombinator – A Standard and Clean Series A Term Sheet  While working with companies in YC’s Series A program, we’ve noticed a common problem: founders don’t know what “good” looks like in a term sheet.
  4. NYT – Does Facebook Really Know How Many Fake Accounts It Has?  The social network has disclosed an estimate for years, but a closer look raises lots of questions.


Top Read of the Week: Fortune – Could This Radical New Approach to Alzheimer’s Lead to a Breakthrough?

Why It Matters:   What does a little known amino acid and a Samoan tribe known for eating bats have to offer in the on-going hunt for signs of progress in battling neuro-degenerative disease?  “Big Pharma has spent billions and gotten nowhere. Here’s what we could learn from a new theory.”

Consider as well:

  1. Vulture – Neo’s Stunt Guy Chad Stahelski on How The Matrix Changed Movie Action Forever
  2. Marketwatch – Why NASCAR will be slowing its cars down in future races  Attendance and TV ratings have plunged, so new chairman Jim France has instituted changes
  3. Mel – The Lonely Life of a Yacht Influencer  Alex Jimenez (aka TheYachtGuy) might look like he’s comfortably residing in the lap of luxury on Instagram, but the truth is, he’s kinda lost at sea
  4. Engadget – Mastering Jenga taught this robot real-world physics
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