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  • đź”® Practicing Rejection – #127

🔮 Practicing Rejection – #127

How to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Good morning,

This week has been packed. I had my first proper sales meeting, the first meeting with our new board, and an informal chat with an early-stage investor—all situations where you want to be your best as a founder.

It all went well, but I often get some post-performance blues. So I’ll spend the weekend sleeping in, watching the West Wing and eating ice cream.

A couple of months ago, a friend sent me this TED Talk with Jia Jiang about what he learned about 100 days of seeking out rejection. It has stuck with me since. Most of us don’t even ask for what we want because we fear rejection.

However, as an entrepreneur, I realise I need to become comfortable asking and not let potential rejection limit me. So, I’m practising.

This week, I’ve been selling some of my furniture at a second-hand marketplace. I hate selling things to strangers. But I thought it could be a good opportunity to get some practice being uncomfortable and getting rejected.

First, the guy who bought my kitchen table didn’t have all the money he needed when he picked it up, and we had already negotiated the price. He told me he would transfer the last $50 later that night, but I assumed he wouldn’t. So, I realised practising to ask for what I wanted was perfect. So two days later, I texted him about it, and 2 minutes later, he sent me the last of the money.

Then, this other guy wanted to pay $200 less than I had listed an item for. First, I didn’t even answer because I didn’t have the energy to negotiate. Then he reminded me, and I said, “Unfortunately, I’m not interested in selling at that price.” I didn’t even counter with a different price. Then he returned and said, “Okay, how much do you want?” I realised it was another great opportunity to practice asking, so I said, “The listed price”. So he said, “Fine”, and picked it up yesterday.

So, I made $260 by just letting go of the expectation that I should automatically lower the price when someone asked me to.

$260 is a lot of money for a start-up founder. But the experience is probably worth a lot more.

So, what will you ask for? Maybe what you want is closer than you think.


Report — Amy Webb presented the Future Today Institute’s yearly Tech Trend Report at SXSW in Austin yesterday. The report tracks more than 700 technology and science trends likely to influence every industry.

Book — Never Not Working: Why the Always-On Culture Is Bad for Business—and How to Fix It by Malissa Clark.

Podcast — How to Win an Oscar, a podcast episode by BBC’s The Global Story.

Movie—Need an easy-to-watch romantic comedy to hide from the world? Happiness for Beginners on Netflix was cute and gave me the hiking bug.

Tool — Are you a listmaker? Superlist gathers all your lists in one place, connects them to your other apps, and makes them easy to share with friends and family.

TikTok Ban Looms: US House Committee Moves Forward

Internet, Geopolitics

Unanimous Vote: A United States House committee has unanimously endorsed a bill requiring ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, to divest from the app or face a ban in the United States. This marks a significant step toward potentially prohibiting the platform.

Security Briefing: Legislators were briefed on national security concerns regarding TikTok's Chinese ownership before the 50-0 vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Widespread Usage at Risk: The app, boasting 170 million American users, faces its most considerable threat yet from this legislation.

Bipartisan Support: High-ranking officials, including House Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, both Republicans from Louisiana, have voiced their support, with the White House also backing the bill introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers earlier this week.

TikTok's Response: In retaliation, TikTok warned of a potential US shutdown and initiated a campaign against the proposed ban. The platform refutes claims of sharing user data with Beijing and argues the ban infringes on Americans' free speech rights, potentially harming businesses and creators.

Legislative Challenges Ahead: Despite the current momentum, the bill faces hurdles, including constitutional debates and the precedent of stalled or blocked efforts to limit TikTok's operations, such as last year’s RESTRICT Act and a blocked statewide ban in Montana.

In a Nutshell: With the backing of key lawmakers and the White House, a bill threatening TikTok's operations in the US advances amid debates over national security and free speech rights.

Google Engineer Charged in Major AI Trade Secret Theft

Artificial Intelligence, Geopolitics

Linwei Ding, a former Google software engineer, faces federal charges for allegedly stealing AI-related trade secrets while secretly working for two Chinese firms.

Arrested for Stolen Secrets: Ding, also known as Leon Ding, was arrested on Wednesday following a four-count indictment in California. Ding is accused of taking over 500 confidential files—his alleged theft centres around Google's supercomputing data centres, which are critical for AI model development.

Dual Employment: Investigations reveal Ding's secret work in China, including a high-ranking position at Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology and launching his own AI-focused startup, Shanghai Zhisuan Technology, without Google's knowledge.

Covert Operations Uncovered: Starting in May 2022, Ding reportedly used a personal Google account to upload sensitive information, continuing for a year while also engaging with Chinese technology companies. Google's suspicions led to the discovery of Ding's unauthorised activities, including his plans to relocate to China. This prompted immediate action to revoke his access and alert authorities.

Heavy Penalties: The Chinese national risks up to 40 years in prison and $1 million in fines, signalling the severe consequences of trade secret theft.

Official Responses: United States Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasise the national security risks posed by such thefts and vow to take stringent action against technology espionage.

Wider Context: This case emerges amidst the intensifying US-China trade dispute. Both nations have imposed significant tariffs and restrictions, notably on computer chip exports, reflecting broader concerns over technological dominance and security.

Art, Legal

A breach-of-contract suit against Banksy’s corporate entity, Pest Control, could disclose the anonymity of one of the world's most celebrated street artists because of allegations of market manipulation and the declining value of his works.

Legal Showdown: Art collectors Nicky Katz and Ray Howse are suing Banksy's company, Pest Control, over its failure to confirm the authenticity of "Monkey Queen," potentially forcing the elusive artist to reveal his real identity.

Three-Year Ordeal: After purchasing "Monkey Queen" for ÂŁ30,000 from a deceased collector's estate in 2020, the plaintiffs have sought Pest Control's authentication for three years, leading to a breach of contract lawsuit.

Authentication Struggles: Pest Control, established by Banksy in 2008 to combat fake prints, promises certificates of authenticity. Yet, Katz and Howse's request remains unresolved.

Market Impact: Art collectors criticise Pest Control's selective certification as market manipulation. Banksy's work prices have declined, with "Police Car" selling for significantly less than its value a few years ago.

Pest Control's Defense: The company asserts its authentication process is "robust and thorough," having issued thousands of certificates despite accusations of protracted responses.

Identity Speculation: The true identity of Banksy, a street artist famous for his critical and satirical artwork, has been a long-standing mystery with several speculated identities, including Robert Del Naja, Jamie Hewlett, Neil Buchanan, and Robin Gunningham.

Remote Work: A Double-Edged Sword for Employment Stability


New data shows remote workers are 35% more likely to face layoffs than their in-office counterparts. The analysis, covering two million white-collar jobs, revealed that 10% of full-time remote positions were eliminated in 2023, against a 7% cut rate for in-office roles.

Quitting Trend: Despite the heightened layoff risk, remote employees are also more prone to quitting, valuing the flexibility of their working arrangement as equivalent to an 8% pay raise. In 2023, 12% of remote workers left their jobs to start new roles within two months, compared to 9% of workers in hybrid or in-office settings.

Personal Connection Factor: The challenge of building personal connections with remote staff is highlighted as a key reason for the disparity in layoffs. Experts think this is connected to the feeling that terminating distant employees for layoffs is easier due to the lack of close personal relationships.

Return-To-Office Policies and Loud Quitting: Stringent Return-To-Office mandates drive talent turnover, with some employees opting to resign rather than comply with cross-country moves or in-office attendance demands. In protest of Return-To-Office orders, some tech workers are adopting a "loud quitting" strategy, openly opposing management decisions while actively seeking new opportunities.

Management’s Perception Challenge: The reliance on physical presence as a productivity indicator is questioned, especially among younger managers who see flexibility and output over office attendance as the true measure of work efficiency.

Global Cocoa Prices Soar to Record Highs, Pressuring Chocolate Industry

Food, Climate Change

The chocolate industry faces mounting pressures as global cocoa prices hit record highs, driven by adverse weather in West Africa. This increase poses significant challenges for chocolate manufacturers and may lead to higher retail prices for consumers amidst growing concerns over supply chain costs and product affordability.

Unprecedented Increase: Cocoa prices have reached record levels, with New York prices peaking at $5,874 (ÂŁ4,655) a ton due to adverse weather conditions in West Africa, the leading supplier of the world's cocoa, exacerbating industry-wide cost concerns. In London, the surge in cocoa prices saw a 7.3% increase to ÂŁ4,660 a ton, more than doubling from ÂŁ2,023 a ton a year earlier, signalling significant supply chain pressures for chocolate manufacturers globally.

Industry Reaction: The sharp rise in cocoa costs prompts major chocolate producers to reconsider pricing strategies. Among the world's largest chocolatiers, Hershey highlighted the challenge of balancing soaring input costs with consumer price sensitivity. Other major players like Mondelēz have identified rising cocoa and sugar prices as a pivotal challenge for the year, affecting the broader chocolate market.

Potential Price Adjustments: As the cost of cocoa climbs, companies hint at potential product price hikes to offset the impact on profits, signalling possible higher costs for consumers.

Consumer Impact: The spike in cocoa prices is beginning to reflect on retail shelves. A consumer watchdog report noted a more than 50% increase in the cost of festive chocolates from Christmas 2022 to 2023, underlining the direct impact on consumers with an 8.3% overall UK supermarket food and drink inflation and chocolate prices escalating by 15.3%.

Spain's Olive Oil Heists: "Liquid Gold" Becomes Top Target for Gangs


Spain faces a unique challenge as olive oil becomes a desired commodity for thieves. This drives supermarkets and producers to bolster security measures amidst declining supplies and escalating prices.

Surge in Theft: Amid shortages and skyrocketing prices, olive oil has emerged as the most shoplifted item in Spanish supermarkets, attracting organised crime rings for its resale value on the black market. The thefts are orchestrated by gangs looking to profit from scarcity rather than individuals driven by necessity.

Production Plummets: As the world's leading producer, Spain grapples with a significant dip in olive oil supply due to consecutive years of extreme weather, with global production falling to 2.4 million tonnes—short of the 3 million tonnes global demand.

Preventive Measures after Price Spikes: Over four years, the cost of a litre of high-quality extra virgin olive oil in Spain has surged from under €5 to as high as €14, highlighting the impact of the supply crunch. Retailers have started to chain large bottles and tag them with security devices to prevent thieves, a response to the increasing incidents of olive oil theft.

International Crackdown: In a recent operation, authorities in Spain and Italy arrested 11 individuals and seized over 5,000 litres of oil degraded to worse quality while still intended to be passed off as premium products.

Unusual Theft Target: Olive oil's status as a staple food item makes it a prime target for theft, ranking alongside luxury and high-demand items like ibérico ham and alcohol.

Broader Impact: The thefts extend beyond retail, affecting olive growers and oil producers—substantial quantities of olive oil have also been stolen directly from the source.

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

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