#53 | Climate Tech Summit, Sushi, TED, Squid Game & More
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I’m co-organizing a big event this week (from tomorrow, in fact). A few more news too.
1. WORK: Climate Tech Summit this week
2. EXPERIENCES: Dream of Sushi, Museums
3. CULTURE: Squid Game, HR, Chapelle
4. THOUGHTS: The road to TED, Negotiations, The Price of Distraction
Climate Tech Summit This Week: 50 Speakers, 900+ Investors, 3000+ Participants!
The event is tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. RSVP here.
It is virtual, free, and with a stellar line-up.
Climate tech covers anything reducing carbon emissions across #energy (renewables, storage) #food and ag (e.g. alt-proteins) #industry (new materials, new processes) #transport and more.
As Mateo Jaramillo, CEO of Form Energy told me, some say that “Your next job is going to be in climate, whether you know it or not.”
Aside from moderating two of the sessions (one with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and its investee Redwood Materials, the other with Form Energy — the latter two companies were founded by ex-Tesla execs), I mostly worked on curation and convincing speakers to support this project, and it worked pretty well. Thanks to Ned who joined SOSV from TechCrunch for dreaming up such an ambitious project, and making it happen!
Dream of Sushi
After living for 4 years in Japan I got what I call ‘the curse of knowledge’ — I had great local food, which raised the bar for future enjoyment. Over the past weeks, however, I visited two fancy sushi places in Paris.
The first one was a no-reservation, fairly priced place with a foreign chef. The atmosphere was busy but friendly and upon eating the first pieces I had a rush of memories -- it was a literal 'madeleine de Proust' moment.
The second place I had to book weeks in advance, was much pricier (think $10+ per piece), with a Japanese chef and only 8 seats. Customers were older, looked wealthier, and everyone was silent around the counter. The taste was about equally great, with fancier presentation, but I felt the atmosphere was a bit stiff. The best part for me is when I came up with a joke in Japanese for the chef (wait for it…).
In case my former Tokyo colleagues read this, here is how it went: the chef game me a first piece of sushi and said ‘ika’ (squid). When he gave me a different piece and said ‘ko-ika’ (juvenile squid). I replied: ‘ikanimo’ (indeed). Connoisseurs only… My previous joke in a similar situation was… 20 years ago, but landed well - I’m getting closer to a 5-minute routine!
Hunting and Nature Museum
A lesser known museum in Paris. I had low expectations but it over-delivered. The spaces are gorgeous, and some rooms seem to come right from a Tim Burton nightmare. There is a room with the largest collection of taxidermy and trophies I've ever seen, including a life-size polar bear and an Alaskan elkhound trophy, alongside hundreds of spectacular hunting weapons including the mighty 8-bore elephant rifle. Another room has a ceiling covered with owl feathers and several fake (?) owl heads, which reminded me of the peacock room in the Commune architect village near Beijing's Great Wall. I also saw a few chimaera, and a small odd bird-looking sculpture which I learned was made of dust collected in the museum...
It was a good reminder that low-key places can be surprising. I’ve liked in the past the Paris Museum of Medical History (and its necromantic coffee table), the expansive Maritime Museum in Hong Kong, the Parasite Museum in Tokyo, TeamLab's ArtScience Museum in Singapore, or the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
Ticket to Ride
BoardGameGeek calls it a 'gateway game' as it is quick to learn and balances skill, luck and competitive play. You’re competing to build train lines on a map to score points. I enjoy exploring unconventional tactics and managed to do quite well by betting on fewer but longer tracks. Most players focus on their own stuff, but I also actively blocked my host’s track, which was probably a faux-pas. Pretty fun.
I watched it out of curiosity the first time I saw it on the Netflix menu. It was pretty good but I was surprised it got so popular. I think it has more to do with Netflix promoting it, and the Kpop-level production value than the story. It felt like a remix of Battle Royale, Oldboy (the main character reminded me of Choi Min-shik), and Bad Guy (a pretty dark movie by Kim Ki-duk). The ‘rich people’ betting on the games were seriously cardboard with poor acting too.
Inhuman Resources ('Derapages')***
A nice surprise from this French miniseries. Imagine Breaking Bad but instead of a chemist you cast an out-of-work middle-aged HR director. A trendy tech startup hires him to run a mock hostage situation to test its top executives (a real event that took place in France in 2005), but the man has other plans… The main character is played by the former French star footballer Eric Cantona, who does a great job, but apparently wasn’t the first choice of the author who wrote the novel, and caused the show to stop after only one season (it was pretty much complete anyway).
The Closer by Dave Chapelle***
I had bookmarked it before I saw some complained about it. I thought it was pretty funny and that he did a solid job walking close to the line, but since nobody really know where the line is, we can each decide for ourself.
The Good Fight***
Everyone’s favorite black-owned Chicago law firm came back for a new season after the Covid delay. Some interesting new themes including a 'citizen court' and the role of emerging social media influencers.
Seaside Village Cha Cha Cha**
I suppose I didn’t get enough Korean Cultural Technology so I ended up watching this Korean drama about a female dentist from Seoul who, after an incident with her boss, is unable to find any work and decides to open a clinic in a small seaside town to lay low and make money. The love interest comes from this handsome young handyman who works a dozen jobs, and is great at all of them: repairman, real estate agent, barista, delivery man… He's well loved in the community and takes care of its seniors. I’m not well versed in the genre, but it felt like a typical feel-good Korean drama.
Yowamushi Pedal** (Weakling Pedal)
Typical high-school underdog anime story about cycling. Fairly predictable (linear?) but with good production. Listening to the Japanese version to brush up. Two interesting words: the yowamushi in the title (weak+insect), hard to translate in all its nuance, and the first name of the hero: Sakamichi, which means… ‘slope’.
The Starling** (Netflix)
A couple lost their baby to SIDS. One is stuck grieving, while the other tries to move forward. Then an aggressive bird shows up in their garden. Apparently the Internet and critics didn't quite like this one, but I found it cute, with pretty good acting, even if fairly predictable.
The Road to TED
A friend was recently invited to speak at TED Countdown (their Climate-focused event), which gave me some behind-the-scene view.
The writing and rewriting of a data-ridden 10-minute speech is painful, but not as much as the gruesome number of times needed to memorize it over the weeks leading to the event. Fortunately, the TED team is very supportive and hands-on.
Also, many people are intimidated by the level of quality of the talks, thinking ‘how can they be so perfect?’ As I learned from a friend who produced the first 1000 TED talks (Hi, J!), editing makes them so, thanks to the multiple cameras and sound editing.
The talk went well but unfortunately for me, I was busy and missed my chance to meet Al Gore, Rainn Wilson (The Office), Emma Watson (Hermione), John Doerr (I got a pre-release version of his upcoming book Speed & Scale), and other movers and shakers. Rainn Wilson prepared a video with other comedians asking them to say something funny about climate change. Few dared, but one said ‘Climate chance is a joke, and the joke is on you!’ ;p
A friend recently asked me for advice to negotiate the number of shares he would get from co-founding a company. I got him to realize that his more experienced co-founder had already started the negotiation 9 months ago… After an hour on the phone sharing advice and an action plan, I thought ‘this conversation might one day be worth millions to him’. Maybe founders need agents?
On a smaller scale, another negotiation happened regarding a friend’s consulting contract, where a counter-argument was needed to re-up the fee. The 10-lines email I wrote worked well, and the resulting happiness was both an illustration of how useful the words ‘fair’ and ‘workable’ are , and of how loss aversion (being paid less) might matter more than the starting price. Over a year, this negotiation will be worth over $10,000 in fees (or $1,000 per line for the email). Maybe consultants need agents too ;p
The Price of Distraction
Near my home there is a woman who spends the day sitting on the ground, waiting for inattentive passerby to kick the transparent cup she put a feet away, in which a few cents are placed. I initially found the tactic despicable, but after a while came around to think it was an interesting social experiment in pricing distraction and guilt. I suppose it works well enough for her to keep going — and maybe she could have enough data about the frequency and type of reactions to publish something in a sociology journal. As for me, I donated food to her, and watch my steps.
If anyone doubts the possibility of honest unreliable witnesses: I was walking outside with a friend when we saw a bicycle equipped with a covered front cart for children rolling past us. The friend said 'did you see the dog? how cute!'. I said 'I think it was a child'. A debate ensued until we caught up to the now parked vehicle. A child indeed. In fact… two!
Too Much of a Good Thing
What would the world look like if we had infinity clean food and energy? Not sure if any sci-fi writer looked into it (some surely did), but my hunch is that we would get into new troubles: the world was already on the verge of starvation when Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch figured out how to produce ammonia for fertilizers (and explosives), leading to… further population growth. Time will tell, I suppose.
That’s all for now!