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  • đź”® Baguette Strategy — #128

🔮 Baguette Strategy — #128

What friendships sparks joy and how are french bakeries approaching strategy?

Good morning,

This week, I read an article in Harvard Business Review from 2018 called “Why Your Inner Circle Should Stay Small, and How to Shrink It”.

I found it interesting because I had very few friends when I lived abroad, which was a surprisingly positive experience.

I love to be alone. It can go months without me actively looking to spend time with anyone, especially if I have a lot of social interactions at work.

In Stockholm, I always felt pressure to socialise. There was always another friend I hadn’t seen in too long with whom I felt I should make plans to keep the relationship alive.

In Berlin, it could sometimes go two weeks without social activities, so I appreciated my friendships more. Also, when you don’t have family nearby, you sometimes must lean on your friends instead.

I had to go to the hospital with allergies once, and I was so surprised when my friend didn’t just give me a ride but spent hours in a super-boring German waiting room with me. It was a lot nicer than being there alone.

Friendships are cool because, like any relationship, they strengthen when you help each other out. And thrive when you have real insight into each other's lives and not just a superficial Instagram idea of what is going on.

One interesting aspect is how we translated “friendships” into the online world. I grew up collecting “friends” on different social media platforms, but how many would have helped me if I lost my keys?

Of course, we can have internet friendships that are just as valuable as offline friendships; I spent most of my teens that way. But I don’t think we should encourage “volume” in friendships.

Today, I primarily use two social media platforms: LinkedIn (for work) and Pinterest (to hide from the world). Neither is centred around friendships.

This is a big shift from 2008, when every social event was uploaded to a photo album on Facebook for everyone in your “network” to see.

I no longer follow all my friends on social media platforms — especially not newer friends. And while I often take photos when I do something with friends to save the memory for later, I rarely publish them for anyone else to see.

I believe that the magic in life comes from sharing experiences — not with an undefined group of online connections collected in the last ten years, but in private with people I truly care about.

So, just like Marie Kondo, I ask myself who sparks joy. According to the Harvard Business Review author, we all should. Do you?


Article — What French Bakeries Get Right About Strategy in Harvard Business Review.

Podcast — About every 100 years, a new wave of people are worried about the human race going extinct. Why? I recommend the episode A Brief History of Extinction Panics of The Gray Area with Sean Illing to give context on our current times — and artificial intelligence.

Tool — Trying to buy more vintage and second-hand? Install the Faircado plugin to your browser, and complement all the ads for new things with buys that are better for the planet.

Interactive — It’s estimated a language is lost globally every two weeks. Speak an indigenous Australian language to unlock the interactive story My Grandmother’s Lingo.

European Union Cracks Down on Political Ads with New Transparency Rules

Democracy, Politics

The European Union has taken a significant step to enhance the transparency and integrity of political advertising. With the adoption of a new regulation, the EU aims to protect its elections from information manipulation and foreign interference by making political ads more transparent to its citizens.

Why It Matters:

  • The move addresses growing concerns over the impact of targeted political ads on democratic processes, including elections and referenda.

  • By ensuring citizens can easily identify and understand the origins and targeting criteria of political ads, the EU seeks to bolster informed decision-making.

  • The regulation underscores the EU's commitment to privacy rights, free speech, and opinion principles.

Key Features of the Regulation:

  • Scope: Applies to political advertising related to EU or member state elections, referenda, or legislative processes, excluding content under editorial responsibility and personal views.

  • Transparency Requirements: Political ads must carry a transparency label and a detailed notice providing essential information about the ad's sponsor, associated electoral process, financial details, and targeting techniques used.

  • Targeting Restrictions: Personal data for targeting political ads is permitted only with explicit consent from individuals, with strict prohibitions on using sensitive personal data for profiling purposes.

  • Foreign Interference: A pre-election ban on advertising services from third-country sponsors aims to shield EU democratic processes from external meddling.

What's Next: After its formal signing and publication in the EU's Official Journal, the regulation will officially come into effect 20 days later, with most provisions implemented by autumn 2025. This legislative move represents the EU's proactive stance on safeguarding its democratic values in the digital age, setting a precedent for how political advertising is regulated and conducted within its borders.

United States Champions Global AI Ethics Initiative at the UN, Gaining Broad Support

Artificial Intelligence

In a milestone move at the United Nations General Assembly, the United States has proposed a resolution to create a global consensus on the ethical development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence. The initiative, supported by over 50 nations, including the UK, Germany, Canada, India, and the European Union, seeks to establish AI systems that are safe, secure, and trustworthy.

Why it matters: The move underscores an urgent global dialogue on AI's role in society, as the technology's rapid advancement poses both opportunities and ethical dilemmas. The United States initiative at the United Nations mirrors the EU's recent adoption of the AI Act, marking a significant week for AI regulation on the global stage.

The paradox of AI: The resolution emphasises the need for AI to help tackle global challenges such as poverty, health, food security, and climate change. But also advocates for AI technologies that are human-centric, reliable, and ethical, underscoring the importance of human rights and international law.

Regulatory Optimism: This push in the United Nations comes in the same week the EU adopted the AI Act in a landslide vote, marking an end to negotiations and hurdles since the legislation was first discussed in 2021.

The big picture: With the backing of influential nations, this resolution could pave the way for the first-ever United Nation-wide agreement on AI, promoting a shared vision for technology that enhances human welfare while safeguarding rights and privacy. The success of this resolution could indicate a new era of international cooperation in technology governance, with AI at the forefront of the agenda.

Tech Industry Turmoil: Layoffs Surge to Highest Levels Since Dot-com Era

Technology, Careers

Tech workers face the toughest job market since the 2001 dot-com bust, with over 50,000 layoffs announced across over 200 companies this year. This alarming trend follows a year where the sector saw over 260,000 job cuts. Giants like Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft are slimming down their workforces, signalling a sharp turn from the previously booming market.

By the Numbers:

  • 50,000+ tech workers have been laid off since the start of the year.

  • Over 200 tech companies have announced job cuts.

  • 2023's layoffs mark the second-largest annual cut in tech, trailing only the dot-com crash.

  • February's job cuts were the highest for the month since the 2009 financial crisis.

The Job Hunt: Former employees describe the current job market as "insane" and "humbling," with fierce competition for new positions and many facing pay cuts or considering leaving the industry. For those laid off, the quest for reemployment involves navigating a more demanding hiring landscape, with companies now expecting higher qualifications and offering lower compensation.

AI Engineers in High Demand: Despite the widespread layoffs, the AI sector is experiencing a hiring boom, with salaries for AI engineers rising significantly. This stark contrast within the tech industry underscores the evolving demands and opportunities in the wake of AI's rapid advancement.

A Glimmer of Hope: While the tech labour market faces challenges, there are still pockets of optimism. Some laid-off workers find new roles, albeit with adjustments in expectations regarding pay and work environment. As the industry navigates this tumultuous period, resilience and adaptability become key for employees and companies.

United Nations Report Highlights Rising Conflicts and Climate Crisis as Major Threats to Human Development

Democracy, Development

This week, the latest UN Human Development Report was released. The progress in Human Development, measured through the Human Development Index (HDI), is challenged by a lack of global collaboration when global conflicts escalate and climate change crises occur. The report calls for urgent action to embrace and better manage global interconnectedness to safeguard human development.

Challenging Years for Human Development: The report details the devastating impact of conflicts, with deaths in battle and displacement from violent conflicts increasing, reaching the highest levels since World War II. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened inequalities, revealing a global insufficiency in handling health emergencies.

Increasing stress worldwide: Self-reported stress is rising in most countries, starting well before the Covid-19 pandemic. A few years ago, well-being had never been higher, and poverty never lower. Yet people worldwide reported high levels of sadness, stress and worry. Those self-reported measures have since risen for nearly 3 billion people across high and low HDI countries.

Dire situation for democracy: 9 in 10 people show unwavering support for the ideal of democracy. Still, there has been an increase in the number of people supporting leaders who may undermine it. Today, more than half the global population supports such leaders for the first time. 68 percent of people report that they have little influence in the decisions of their government

Climate Emergency: 2023 marked the hottest year on record, with projections showing a stark increase in inequalities due to climate change effects if current trends persist.

Hope Amid Challenges: Despite these dire findings, there's evidence that countries with high and very high human development have made progress without worsening the pressure on the planet, offering hope for sustainable solutions to human development progress across the globe.

Call to Action: The report stresses the need for a new global cooperation framework focused on delivering public goods, urging nations to prioritise collaboration over conflict. It also calls for reducing polarisation by addressing misperceptions and promoting more inclusive, future-oriented, and people-centred governance models.

The Bottom Line: With the global community at a critical juncture, the UNDP's report serves as a rallying cry for renewed international cooperation to navigate the complex challenges of our interconnected world and ensure a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable path forward.

Teen Screen Time: New Report Finds Mixed Feelings Among US Teens and Parents


Pew Research Center sheds light on how teenagers and their parents navigate the complexities of screen time. A comprehensive study conducted in September and October last year among 1,453 US teens aged 13 to 17 and their parents offers insightful data on digital behaviours, feelings, and family conflicts regarding smartphone use.

Access and Usage: 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, with significant usage of platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Perceptions of Screen Time: 38% of teens feel they spend too much time on their smartphones, with a slightly lower percentage feeling the same about social media usage. Managing screen time is a priority for 76% of parents, though strategies and concerns vary by household income and ethnicity.

Smartphone Separation: 74% of teenagers report feeling often or sometimes happy without their smartphone, 72% report feeling peaceful, though 44% experience anxiety without their phone present.

Gender Differences: Girls are likelier to report excessive screen time than boys. They are also more likely to report attempts to cut their screen time.

Smartphones and Hobbies vs. Social Skills: While 69% of teens acknowledge that smartphones facilitate pursuing hobbies, only 30% believe the phone supports them in learning good social skills. Instead, 42% of teens reporting smartphones make it harder to develop good social skills.

Parental Oversight: Half of the surveyed parents admit to checking their teens' phones, slightly higher than the number of teens (43%) who report that their parents do so.

Digital Disputes: About 40% of parents and teens report frequent arguments over phone usage.

Distracted Parenting: Nearly half of teens (46%) say their parent is at least sometimes distracted by their phone when they’re trying to talk to them, including 8% who say this happens often. However, when parents were asked to assess their own behaviour, fewer (31%) said this happens regularly.

Final Word: Most teens (70%) believe the benefits of smartphones outweigh the harms for their age group.


As companies navigate the post-pandemic world, the workweek structure continues to evolve. A recent Flex Index survey reveals how businesses in the United States are adapting, showing a nearly even split among fully flexible arrangements, structured hybrid models, and traditional office settings.

Work Location Flexibility: 33% of companies now offer full flexibility, while structured hybrid models—requiring employees in the office for part of the week—account for 32%. Companies requiring full-time office attendance make up 35%, with structured hybrid seeing the fastest growth since the start of 2023.

Hybrid Workdays: Among structured hybrid companies, 88% mandate 2-3 days per week in the office, averaging 2.57 days—which has remained stable through 2023.

Industry Insights: Technology offers work location flexibility at 97%, with telecom at 88%. Restaurants & Food Services lag at 67%, prioritizing proximity to on-site customers.

Company Size and Flexibility: Larger organisations are increasingly adopting structured hybrid models, with 48% of those employing 5-25k workers and 65% of those with over 25k workers now following this model. Smaller companies (under 500 employees) remain predominantly flexible, with 74% offering fully flexible work options.

Financial Advantages: Companies embracing a fully remote model can see substantial reductions in real estate and utility costs. The savings extend to reduced expenses on office supplies and maintenance. However, this advantage is lost when companies require office attendance, making structured hybrid more or less as expensive as a full-time office.

This shift towards hybrid and flexible work models indicates a significant transformation in how companies rethink productivity, employee satisfaction, and the future of work.

Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new. ✨

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