It's important because it's getting the most attention....

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So 13 EU nations are supporting China's BRI, Britain can't sort out how to Brexit, and America is consumed with a scam where two C-list celebrities rigged the system to get their progeny into elite universities.

Seems right.

Currently, the US is all about personality trumping policy.

However, as a news story, this is Shakespearean.

This news demands we pay attention - it is simply hired-wired into the lizard brain cultural foundation of America.

It's no wonder the Feds led with Hollywood stars cheating the system and finding more support for children already given amazing support - this is the ultimate narrative and captures attention from the start.

For entrepreneurs and Hollywood stars who deal with sharks daily, the emotional ups and downs of performing, working, and living at the highest levels of America, they wanted a guaranteed process, they were taking no chances.

The pressure to buy academics and credentials in America is real. The idea that being in the right network and around the right alumni is reinforced daily in America.

So they turned to a college entrance professional with a secret sauce and “side door” process to help kids of the wealthy and powerful and connected into highly sought after universities.

This story will be with us for some time. This story is the ultimate narrative and will foster memes, pods, books, movies, and plays.

The charges will shake the high echelons of American academia.

Politicians on the campaign trail will weave this story into their campaign speeches reinforcing us vs. them and reminding voters of the advantages the ultra-rich enjoy in accessing the country’s best colleges.

Students will continue to feel intense competition where merit alone may not be enough to assure admission, even for students with perfect grade-point averages and stellar resumes, to the most sought after schools.

It's a heck of a story, but possibly not the most important story this week.

Your lizard brain is a heck of a news editor.

-- Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader strategy and management for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. He is the founder of Brigadoon (thebrigadoon.com) and Caracal Global (caracal.global).

Plastic from Plants + Microplastic Pollution + WWC

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Engineered microbe may be key to producing plastic from plants: Phys.org reports, with a few genetic tweaks, a type of soil bacteria with an appetite for hydrocarbons shows promise as a biological factory for converting a renewable—but frustratingly untapped—bounty into a replacement for ubiquitous plastics. Bioengineers in Japan have used PDC to make a variety of materials that would be useful for consumer products.

Microplastic pollution has contaminated American groundwater, the lakes, and rivers of the UK, the coast of Spain, the beaches of Singapore and the Yangtze River in China, studies from around the world have shown. While the health effects of the tiny plastic particles on humans are still undetermined, they have been shown to harm marine life – and to have been consumed by people in Europe, Japan, and Russia.

New York City school menus go meatless on Mondays: WSJ reports, the NYC mayor says the policy will improve the health of children and the planet; food trade group says the move will limit low-income youngsters’ access to protein.

The nation’s largest school district follows others, such as Los Angeles, in offering only vegetarian dishes on Mondays, saying the move will help the environment by cutting greenhouse gases. 

Women finally get their own World Cup soccer style: NYT reports, for decades, women’s uniforms were just derivations of men’s. Now, taking specific design cues, like ponytail-friendly necklines, comes the good stuff

Nike revealed the new home and away uniforms for 14 out of 24 competing teams, and for the first time since the brand began working with the WWC tournament in 1995, each one of them was made specifically for the women’s teams, not as derivations or extensions of kits made for men.

Body Language + Silicon Valley + Power Suits + Robot Receptionists + Gas Guzzlers

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Smile, you're on camera: Japanese company Vaak developed software that uses artificial intelligence to detect body language suggesting someone intends to shoplift and alerts staff so they can intervene. 

New York, Beijing chip away at Silicon Valley: Growth of digital tools at companies world-wide is set to unseat the world’s go-to technology hub, a KPMG survey finds.

"Nearly 60 percent believe that it is likely or very likely that the technology innovation center of the world will move from Silicon Valley by 2023."

Read the 2019 Technology Innovation Hubs report - click here.

It's over - The end of tailor-made power suits and leather-soled shoes: Goldman Sachs is shifting to a more casual working style. The investment bank has told its 36,000 staff that the time is right to relax its dress code to “create a welcoming environment for all.” Although suits and ties are now optional employees are still expected to dress smartly for business meetings, with the bank advising that they wear attire that is “consistent with your clients’ expectations.”

Michael Skapinker: Are robot receptionists the future of hospitality? Automation may be fashionable — but never underestimate the value of human contact. https://on.ft.com/2EBWzKn

China's Hainan province to end fossil fuel car sales in 2030: AFP reports, China's southern Hainan island will end sales of fossil fuel-only cars in 2030, officials said, becoming the first province to announce a target end date for a transition away from gas guzzlers. Beijing announced plans in 2017 to phase out petrol vehicles across the nation, but it did not set a date, as the country aims to cut pollution and reduce its dependence on imported oil.

Samuel Logan - Guest Post: Tactical Retreat

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Author’s note: this post is about Brigadoon, an annual gathering of entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. I’ve written it for those who have attended the event, or plan to in the coming years.

I’ve just completed a full week of retreat, rest, and reflection in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. It is the fourth time I have made an annual journey to attend Brigadoon at Sundance. Since my first visit, I fell in love with the idea, with the people I met there, with the location, and with the ideas. Since my first visit, I have not attended another conference, nor have I had much interest. Since the first visit, I have looked forward to returning to this summit of ideas and excellent conversation. These past four years have been a memorable experience. An indelible mark remains on my heart. But I’m not going back to Sundance next year. Before I tell you why, I want to share four things I have learned over the past four years of attendance, of presenting my own ideas, of conversation and shared experience, and of retreating to the mountains of Utah to take a deep breath.

  1. Ideas appreciate in value over time: I first attended Brigadoon to deliver a keynote on The Future of Information Trafficking. It was a wonderful opportunity to synthesize several disparate ideas I had been following and cohesively present them to a room of smart, engaged professionals who shared my own level of curiosity and desire to find a higher level of professional acumen. It was my best effort to inject into the gathering some big ideas and begin a conversation. I had no expectation for a return on investment, but by the end of our time together, I was overloaded with new concepts, new points of view, new angles of looking at the same thing, discovery of concepts I had never considered, connections I had never made, and — in short — more ideas than I could process. I realized that the return on investment (ROI) for Brigadoon was not driven by an opportunity to meet someone who might become a client or an investor. The ROI was in ideas. Over the past four years, I have implemented plans, policies, and programs based on many of the ideas I captured while sitting in the Redford Conference Center listening to someone — who I would have otherwise never discovered — share his or her perspective on life and business. To this day, I hold a bank of ideas in reserve. They appreciate in value as my own ability to unlock what they mean for me and my business grows.

  2. Conversation holds longer than a moment: One of the qualities of a true friendship is good conversation that transcends time and distance. Our best friends are the people who never change, and who can pick up where we left off, even if years have passed since the last encounter. As we age, our list of friends shrinks until we are left with only a core group of true, trusted relationships that most of us can count on one hand. It is a law of aging and relationship that we are all forced to obey. Yet Brigadoon is an exception. There is something about Sundance that suspends reality. There is something about this extended moment that the attendees of Brigadoon share together, if only for a brief while, that marks each of us. My first time at Brigadoon left me with more ideas I could handle and use; it also left me with a short list of new friendships that, though young and based on little more than a shared experience in the Wasatch mountains, would become part of a conversation that held for years, not just a moment.

  3. Relational Equity: In the start up world, we often talk about equity. There’s sweat equity. Us founders are keenly aware of this type of equity; never count the cost! There’s equity as applied to the value of shares in a company. This is what an investor purchases hoping for a return in the future. Brigadoon taught me something about relational equity. This is a quality of fair and impartial treatment of one another. All walks of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness attend Brigadoon. There are red and blue states. There are red and blue companies. There are Atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and more than a few Mormons around. But there is no tension. No argument. I’ve always thought a sign of intelligence is the ability to rise above the baser sense of emotion and belief — indeed to suspend some of that stuff — in the higher calling of unity and relationship, even if for just a few days in Utah. Do this again and again, and it’s no wonder that relational equity builds between people who would otherwise not cross paths. I like to call these encounters, especially in those moments when a one-on-one conversation transcends time, happy collisions. Brigadoon is full of them.

  4. People are people until they’re not: Most encounters we have with other humans are transactions. Usually there is a phone, a POS system, or an Internet connection between us. Our desire to dive deeper into the worm hole of our own digital avatars matches the pace at which technology has replaced real relationships with binary code. Not in Utah. Brigadoon is tech savvy but decidedly analogue. There are no power points, and never will be. The presentations are more toastmasters than not. Faces and hands provide animation, not CGI. And while we do often talk about bitcoin, distributed ledgers, machine learning, and broad vs. narrow artificial intelligence, it was all pencil and paper, with a fireplace in the backdrop, not a screen. Brigadoon attendees are forced to be real. We can’t hide behind laptops or cell phones because there is really no Internet or cell phone connection to speak of. Even if there were, you wouldn’t want to because the person across the table, or standing in front of you, just said something you never thought you’d hear. Rapt attention was the involuntary response. Or, she told you something more personal you never thought you’d say yourself — I’ve rarely laughed and cried in such succession within such a short amount of time. Or someone just explained something to you that you never thought you would understand (like blockchain), while leaning against a bar sipping club soda with a twist of lime. People are just people until they’re not. Brigadoon has always been and will always be a place where masks are removed, reality takes hold, and the attendees give themselves to the moment, where the mountains set your do not disturb mode not a swipe on your hand held device.

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve waxed romantic. And maybe I have a little. But for a good reason. I’m not going back; it’s bittersweet.

So I’ve laid bare before you the top four reasons why I love attending this retreat (yes, I’m not calling it a conference). Why am I not going back?

I’m not going back in 2020 because I want you to have a chance to experience what I’m talking about. I’m not going back because I can thankfully attend a Brigadoon Salon dinner and hug my old friends. Finally, I’m not going back because I want to spend my time and effort in working with Brigadoon’s founder and ambassadors to develop something special under the Brigadoon brand in Scotland (stay tuned).

And I’m not going back because I don’t need to go to Utah to achieve all those things you just read. We can all do everything I described above on our own, in our own space. As the founder of Brigadoon often likes to say — with a little tongue in cheek to spare — “go start your own retreat!” But we always say we don’t want to because he already did. And the truth is, we probably couldn’t do it better. So hat’s off to you, Marc A. Ross, and thank you for a good run. I loved it.

See you in Scotland.

Thought leader mindset - a quick fifteen

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I really enjoyed presenting the thought leader mindset at the opening whiteboard session.

In fact, it was the first time I took an active speaking role at any Brigadoon Sundance gathering and it was the first time I executed a flashcard presentation format.

I appreciate Brigadoon Sundance's friendly environment to experiment and try a new presentation format made up of 100 flashcards.

I was pleasantly surprised by the response but would welcome any additional feedback or comments.

To keep the energy flowing about steps you can take to foster a thought leader mindset - here are a quick fifteen to get you going:

  1. Tell > Sell

  2. The audience knows - you can't fake it

  3. What if it works?

  4. Know the business model

  5. There is no perfect time to start

  6. Busy is a decision

  7. Start at the end

  8. Do you want to be a queen or a queen maker?

  9. Form a habit

  10. Be a professional

  11. Surprise yourself

  12. Rational behavior is rare

  13. Be an expert in being curious

  14. SNL is live at 11:30 pm regardless if it is ready or not

  15. Cause > Campaign

If you want - you can send me your response to any of the tidbits listed above and I am happy to critique your answer.

-Marc

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

Not knowing is powerful

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I don't really know why Brigadoon Sundance works, and frankly, I am glad I don't know.

All that matters is a diverse group of curious subject matter experts for the seventh time decided to attend, participate, and engage in the Utah mountains.

Brigadoon Sundance is the rare gathering comprised of a cross-section of pros where sharing our diverse talents, having a conversation or three, exchanging insights, and driving creativity are at the top of the agenda.

I will have some more thoughts on the most recent Brigadoon Sundance gathering in next week's weekly email. 

I need to take a few more days to identify the topics, disucssions, and sessions which made the biggest impact on me.

For those that attend this year and those who have participated in the past, thank you - the gathering has made a lot of progress since Brigadoon's modest start in 2013.

In addition to the Sundance gatherings, over the last twelve months, Brigadoon has added a higher level of engagement called Professional, increased consulting services, hosted salon dinners in Annapolis, Detroit, and Cincinnati, launched book and coffee clubs, as well as introduced Brigadoon Radio.

I am humbled by your support and commitment to this idea of creating a platform where entrepreneurs and thought leaders can discuss emerging issues shaping commerce and culture.

In the meantime, please continue to let me know how we can better serve this community and what tools you need to further propel your talents.

-Marc

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

"I am glad I don't know.

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"I am glad I don't know."

Marc Ross Weekly
March 3, 2019
Curation and commentary from 
Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia 

Marc Ross Weekly  = Emerging issues shaping commerce + culture


ROSS RANT

Not knowing is powerful:

I don't really know why Brigadoon Sundance works, and frankly, I am glad I don't know.

All that matters is a diverse group of curious subject matter experts for the seventh time decided to attend, participate, and engage in the Utah mountains.

Brigadoon Sundance is the rare gathering comprised of a cross-section of pros where sharing our diverse talents, having a conversation or three, exchanging insights, and driving creativity are at the top of the agenda.

I will have some more thoughts on the most recent Brigadoon Sundance gathering in next week's weekly email. 

I need to take a few more days to identify the topics, disucssions, and sessions which made the biggest impact on me.

For those that attend this year and those who have participated in the past, thank you - the gathering has made a lot of progress since Brigadoon's modest start in 2013.

In addition to the Sundance gatherings, over the last twelve months, Brigadoon has added a higher level of engagement called Professional, increased consulting services, hosted salon dinners in Annapolis, Detroit, and Cincinnati, launched book and coffee clubs, as well as introduced Brigadoon Radio.

I am humbled by your support and commitment to this idea of creating a platform where entrepreneurs and thought leaders can discuss emerging issues shaping commerce and culture.

In the meantime, please continue to let me know how we can better serve this community and what tools you need to further propel your talents.

Thought leader mindset - a quick fifteen:

I really enjoyed presenting the thought leader mindset at the opening whiteboard session.

In fact, it was the first time I took an active speaking role at any Brigadoon Sundance gathering and it was the first time I executed a flashcard presentation format.

I appreciate Brigadoon Sundance's friendly environment to experiment and try a new presentation format made up of 100 flashcards.

I was pleasantly surprised by the response but would welcome any additional feedback or comments.

To keep the energy flowing about steps you can take to foster a thought leader mindset - here are a quick fifteen to get you going:

  1. Tell > Sell

  2. The audience knows - you can't fake it

  3. What if it works?

  4. Know the business model

  5. There is no perfect time to start

  6. Busy is a decision

  7. Start at the end

  8. Do you want to be a queen or a queen maker?

  9. Form a habit

  10. Be a professional

  11. Surprise yourself

  12. Rational behavior is rare

  13. Be an expert in being curious

  14. SNL is live at 11:30 pm regardless if it is ready or not

  15. Cause > Campaign

If you want - you can send me your response to any of the tidbits listed above and I am happy to critique your answer.

-Marc

Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.
 

FIVE TO READ

In a spin: Brexit spells trouble for UK vinyl industry: DW reports, for vinyl lovers the act of placing the needle on a record and anticipating the crackle before the first bars ring out is a sensory and sensual thrill. A no-deal Brexit could nip that in the (ear)bud. http://bit.ly/2ExZxiH

The importance of letting go of so-called dirty pain: Virginia Heffernan (Brigadoon Sundance 2017 Keynote Speaker) writes, annoyance is a maddeningly complex topic. We all lay claim to being annoyed so often that conversation seems to exist entirely to let us register how bugged we are. The office is too cold. Too humid. My coworker’s flip-flops slap against her soles. It’s gross. In Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman propose that an experience of annoyance implicates the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. http://bit.ly/2EsfOWr

Vivienne Ming: ‘The professional class is about to be blindsided by AI’: Ming creates algorithms that help companies select people more effectively. She has developed bots that trawl the web looking for high-tech programmers who may not even have a degree yet are doing great work. She’s also used AI to tally the “tax on being different”, calculating, for example, that in the technology sector, a Latino worker needs about six years’ more education than a white worker to be considered for the same job — something, given the cost of US tertiary education, that can amount to $500,000 or more. https://on.ft.com/2NRxQoo

Twist and shout: the Rubik’s cube: The Economist reports, there are those who can, with patience, navigate the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible orientations to solve it. Then there are the professionals. They set speed records one-handed (6.88 seconds), or blindfolded (17.33), or only with their bare feet (20.57). The overall world record stands at just 4.22 seconds.http://bit.ly/2EwzgRQ

Ambidextrous: Seth Godin opines, anthropologists have found that we’re very motivated to divide into teams, and once on a team, we’ll work hard to degrade the other team. Over the smallest differences. For the smallest possible stakes. Even when we get no other benefit than thinking that we won something. We spend a lot of time sorting people into buckets. We label them in order to treat them differently and establish expectations for how they’ll respond. Mostly to figure out which team they’re on. http://bit.ly/2EsDDh5

EVENTS

Brigadoon Sundance 2020: February 23-25 | Sundance, Utah

Brigadoon is organizing its eighth gathering of entrepreneurs and thought leaders at Sundance Mountain Resort next winter. 

Participants will come from around the globe to exchange insights and drive creativity as well as discuss emerging issues shaping commerce and culture.

Brigadoon Sundance 2020 is moving to a formal invite-only model, but you may apply for an invitation today. 

Invites are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apply for access here.

COTD

Commercial drones are taking off: Rescue operations, mapping or parcel delivery – there are many applications for commercial drones. Analysts at Tractica are projecting that drones and multicopters will be used at increasing rates in the professional sector. For the current year, they estimate the market volume to be 392,000 drones worth US$1.6 billion. Sales and revenue are set to multiply by 2025. North America is by far the largest market for commercial drones, followed by Asia and Europe.

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Did you know? SpaceX + Human Stem Cells

SpaceX rocket with an unmanned crew capsule blasted off on Saturday for the International Space Station, in a key milestone for Elon Musk’s space company and NASA’s long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from US soil later this year.

Japan okays research using human cells in animals: AFP reports, Japan has given the green light to a controversial research process involving implanting animals with human stem cells that could eventually help grow human organs for transplant inside animal hosts.

Did you know? MBA Myth + Polymaths + Dopamine + NFL

Dan Rasmussen + Haonan Li: The MBA myth and the cult of the CEO: Three decades ago, an influential Harvard Business School professor made the argument that CEO pay should be tied to stock performance. Was he horribly wrong? http://bit.ly/2T8iSkG

"What if the “best and brightest” — those executives with the most dazzling CVs and track records — don’t perform any better than less credentialed executives?"

The Times: Polymaths wanted at London Interdisciplinary School, Britain’s first new university in 40 years

LIS is building a new university that prepares students to tackle the most important and complex problems.

For those who want to shape the world, not just fit in.


Dopamine: Beyond the rush of a reward: The neurotransmitter famously provides the thrill we get from a surprise, a phenomenon known as reward prediction error. But growing evidence suggests the chemical also tracks movement, novelty and other neurobiological factors. http://bit.ly/2T79o9i

The NFL is drafting quarterbacks all wrong: No franchise or GM has shown the ability to beat the draft over time, and economists Cade Massey and Richard Thaler have convincingly shown that the league’s lack of consistent draft success is likely due to overconfidence rather than an efficient market. https://53eig.ht/2TbPyKs

Email message I received from Google: "March 1–2 is National Day of Unplugging. So unwind and take a break from the screen. When you return, check out these apps that boost digital wellbeing."

David Welch + Keith Naughton: This is what peak car looks like: The automobile—once both a badge of success and the most convenient conveyance between points A and B—is falling out of favor in cities around the world as ride-hailing and other new transportation options proliferate and concerns over gridlock and pollution spark a reevaluation of privately owned wheels. Auto sales in the U.S., after four record or near-record years, are declining this year, and analysts say they may never again reach those heights. Worldwide, residents are migrating to megacities—expected to be home to two-thirds of the global population by midcentury—where an automobile can be an expensive inconvenience.

-Marc A. Ross