- Better Odds
- 🔮 Our Different Worlds — #121
🔮 Our Different Worlds — #121
Living more than one life at once.
You just finished the last week of January. How do you feel? Many people seem to be struggling with the current state of the world and a demanding start from 2024. You are not alone. Be nice to yourself.
I spent the beginning of the week in Berlin, and now I’m back in Stockholm. Returning to places where you used to live (and grew to love) is always an emotional rollercoaster.
There is a viral interview where Trevor Noah compares friendships with the Horcruxes in Harry Potter. But I think the analogy works for cities, too.
He argues that we give away a different part of ourselves whenever we make meaningful connections with people. So, every person who cares about us holds a different part of us. And just like Voldemort could use the Horcruxes to come back to life, we can use our friends.
Berlin holds a part of me that only comes to life when I visit. And my Berlin friends hold a version of me that only they know.
Travelling this week made me rediscover some parts of myself I want to encourage more when I’m in Stockholm. A braver version that more actively seeks out new experiences (no, I’m not talking about drugs) and has a more individual point of view on the world.
I can be this version of myself anywhere as long as I remember that it exists. This week was a welcome reminder.
What part of yourself would you like to come back to life? What friend or place Horcrux should you go looking for?
📍Five Small Things
Podcast — I recommend listening to How to Keep Time by The Atlantic. You’ll get good perspectives on things like how to rest.
Music — This week, Raye scored seven nominations for the BRIT Awards, making history as the most nominated artist in a single year. I’ve recommended her album My 21st Century Blues in this section before. It's worth a listen. (Also, I love albums that are made to be albums. Listening from beginning to end adds to more than just the sum of every song on its own).
Read — What if money expires? Food for thought by Jacob Baynham for Noema Magazine.
Tool — I'm in appointment booking hell after starting a podcast and regularly trying to book interviews with both my co-host and the guests. The best scheduling tool so far is also the cutest (and cheapest) called Koalender.
Resource — We expect 65 elections across 54 countries in 2024. Misinformation is rapidly increasing due to Generative AI. The Integrity Institute has an Elections Integrity Program to help digital product companies and social media platforms understand their impact on elections and help them do something about it beforehand.
🗞️ The News Section
United States Seeks China's Help in Middle East Crisis To Reduce Violence In Gaza
Geopolitics, Middle East, China
The United States is increasingly looking towards China to play a pivotal role in stabilising the Middle East, particularly in light of the escalating conflict in Gaza. This comes as China's influence in the region grows, notably through its close ties with Tehran, which supports both Hamas and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Despite concerns over China's growing impact, the US acknowledges the need for Chinese intervention to help stop the violence.
Recently, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Thailand. Their discussions centred around the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, which have severely disrupted key shipping routes. These attacks are in retaliation against Israel's military actions in Gaza—the meeting aimed to foster strategic communication and manage the US-China relationship responsibly.
The US is particularly keen for China to leverage its relationship with Iran. Given Iran's economic reliance on China due to global sanctions, the US believes China can persuade Iran to influence Hamas and the Houthis to cease their hostilities.
China has positioned itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East, offering an alternative to US partnership in the region. This was exemplified last year when China played a role in easing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, China has proposed to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians, although substantive actions are yet to be seen.
In recent weeks, Chinese officials have reportedly urged Iran to press the Houthis to stop their maritime attacks, warning of potential repercussions on the Iran-China trade relationship if these attacks persist. This move could signify China's commitment to peace-making efforts in the Middle East.
United States executives in Davos predict a Trump victory in 2024 and see no cause for concern
Geopolitics, United States
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the topic of Donald Trump's potential victory in the 2024 US presidential election sparked contrasting reactions between US and non-US executives. American leaders, particularly from the banking sector, displayed a notable indifference or even confidence regarding Trump's potential return to the White House. They believed that America would remain stable regardless of Trump's leadership, reflecting a certain familiarity or acceptance of Trump's political style and policies.
Conversely, non-American executives exhibited significant unease about the possibility of a Trump presidency. Their concerns were not limited to domestic US policies but extended to international issues like immigration restrictions and the risk of global conflicts escalating under Trump's leadership. This worry among international leaders suggests a broader concern about the global consequences of Trump's policies and his approach to international relations.
Some US executives hinted that the fear among foreign leaders might stem from a misunderstanding of the checks and balances in the US government, implying that Trump's powers would be limited. However, a former Trump administration official expressed concerns that many of the people who previously kept Trump's more damaging impulses in check might not be present if he returned to office.
While not predicting a Trump victory, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, acknowledged some of Trump's policies as successful but also expressed hope for the country's resilience regardless of who wins the presidency. In contrast, Ben Smith, co-founder of Semafor, noted that the consensus at Davos about a likely Trump victory should be taken with caution, given the forum's history of inaccurate predictions.
BeReal’s Balancing Act: Welcoming Brands While Staying True To Its Founding Values of Authenticity
BeReal, the increasingly popular social media app known for its authenticity, has announced a novel initiative to welcome brands and celebrities on board. From the beginning of February, these can join as “RealBrands” or “RealPeople”, providing fans with a glimpse behind the scenes of their everyday lives. It’s worth noting that these aren’t typical advertisements; the participating brands and celebrities must also post in real time, following the app’s core idea of spontaneity.
Since its launch in 2022, BeReal has positioned itself as the “anti-social media” social media. The app challenges the staged aspect of social media, opting instead for spontaneity. Each day, at a variable time, users are nudged with a notification to post within two minutes, capturing often mundane but genuine moments of their day-to-day lives.
BeReal has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity. As of January 2024, BeReal has 23 million daily active users, an increase from the 20 million reported in August. According to a study from the Pew Research Centre, the app’s user base includes an estimated 13% of teenagers in the United States.
But BeReal struggles with monetisation, forcing it to move closer to legacy players like Instagram and TikTok. First, BeReal rolled out various features over the past year, including groups, mentions, multiple posts per day, pinned posts, and a “friends of friends” feed — asking for more of users’ time and attention.
This new introduction of RealBrands and RealPeople marks a potential move towards revenue generation. Unfortunately, being founded as an alternative, it also sells part of its soul. Let’s see how users react to that.
📈 The Insights Section
Health, Wealth, and Education: The Proven Advantages of Living in a Mature Democracy
We expect 65 elections across 54 countries in 2024. With geopolitical instability worldwide and challenging national situations in many countries, it is easy to forget the profound impact that the democratic process has on individual well-being. The evidence is compelling …
If you live in a democracy that is at least 25 years old, you’re likely to live 14 years longer than people in autocracies, according to a University of British Columbia study. Babies in mature democracies are 78% less likely to die in childbirth.
Democratic countries are supposed to be better governed than autocracies, seem to grow faster and foster more peaceful conduct within and between them. Democratisation also increases a nation's wealth by 20% over 25 years and improves citizens' enrollment in secondary education by 70%.
Gen Z Struggles in the Workplace: Issues Spans From Workload and Social Skills
Gen Z, Work
It seems like Gen Z employees face unique challenges in the workplace. A December study from the New Jersey-based group Intelligent found that 39% of hiring managers favoured older candidates due to Gen Z’s trouble in the workplace.
About 60% of employers are willing to offer more benefits and higher salaries to attract older workers instead of recent graduates, and 46% are willing to hire overqualified candidates.
One in five employers reported that recent college graduates are generally unprepared for job interviews. More than half of the employers surveyed said Gen Z candidates struggle the most with eye contact during interviews.
Approximately half of the study respondents indicated that candidates in this age group ask for unreasonable salaries and dress inappropriately for in-person interviews. Nearly 1 in 5 employers have experienced a recent college graduate bringing a parent to an interview. And 21% of employers reported that some candidates refuse to turn on their cameras for virtual interviews.
Two-thirds of employers reported that Gen Z employees cannot manage their workloads. About 60% of employers said Gen Z employees are frequently late and often miss assignment deadlines. 47% of employers in the survey have fired a recent college graduate.
63% of employers consider Gen Z employees to be entitled. 58% of employers said Gen Z employees get offended too easily and are unprepared for the workforce. Employers noted that Gen Z employees lack professionalism, do not respond well to feedback, and have poor communication skills.
However, Gen Z is not oblivious to these issues. A Harris Poll conducted for Fortune highlighted that a significant 65% of Gen Z workers admit they find it difficult to engage in conversations with their coworkers, a problem only shared by about a quarter of older employees. This gap is particularly pronounced among those who entered the workforce after the pandemic, suggesting COVID-19 isolation may have impacted their social skills.
Furthermore, many in Gen Z feel disconnected from their colleagues due to a lack of common life experiences, such as having a family or owning pets. This sense of alienation is heightened because they are likelier to feel their coworkers are closer to one another than to them.
Recognising the importance of interpersonal relationships in the workplace, especially for career advancement, over two-thirds of employees believe those who can connect socially with senior staff are more likely to be promoted. However, 75% of Gen Z say they are more inclined to speak to older colleagues if they initiate these interactions.
In response to this skills gap, employers are stepping in. Major firms, including the Big Four consulting companies, now offer additional training to their younger hires. These programmes aim to develop essential soft skills, such as making presentations, speaking up in meetings, and engaging in authentic conversations.
Work-from-home policies are also being adapted to address this issue. Companies like Cisco are encouraging Gen Z employees to spend more time in the office than their older counterparts. Cisco's UK and Ireland CEO, David Meads, notes that while older employees might be more productive working from home, younger workers benefit significantly from in-person interactions for professional development.
Gallup Poll Reveals Widespread Decline in Ethical Ratings Across Professions in the United States
A recent Gallup poll conducted in December 2023 reveals a notable decline in the public's perception of honesty and ethics across nearly all professions in the United States. Almost every field has seen a drop in ethical ratings compared to previous years.
The poll, a regular feature since 1990, highlighted that 22 of the 23 professions surveyed have experienced an average six-point decline in honesty and ethics ratings since 2019.
Nurses have remained the most trusted profession for the 22nd consecutive year. Despite this, their rating has fallen to 78%, a decline from previous years. At the other end of the spectrum, Congress members, senators, car salespeople, and advertising practitioners received the lowest ethical ratings, with scores in the single digits.
Other professions still enjoying majority-level positive ratings include engineers, dentists, medical doctors, and pharmacists. However, this year witnessed record lows in ethical ratings for five professions: clergy (religious leaders), Congress members, senators, journalists, and pharmacists.
Interestingly, the survey showed significant differences in perceptions based on education level. College graduates generally rated professions more positively than non-graduates, especially in the cases of dentists and engineers. The gap in ratings for psychiatrists, college teachers, and pharmacists was also notably large.
There were also marked differences in how professions were rated by political affiliation. Republicans and Democrats diverged significantly in their views, with the largest gap observed in ratings for college teachers – a stark 40-point difference between the two groups.
The survey's implications are profound and suggest a broad-based erosion of trust in professional ethics in the United States, with few professions spared from this negative shift in public opinion.
Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new. ✨
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