To Be And To Last 19 May 2020

Deep Reads

Once a rival to Starbucks, Luckin Coffee saw their stock plunge nearly 90% back in March 2020 before being frozen pending Luckin’s response to Nasdaq. Why? Anonymous but heavily substantiated allegations of fraud, including revenue inflation to the tune of USD$310.5M. The 89 page allegation provides a fascinating view into this situation, which is still developing (Luckin’s board fired the CEO and COO last week).

Just over a year ago, a group successfully robbed the North Korean embassy in Madrid, taking control of the embassy for over four hours prior to escaping in diplomatic vehicles while the police watched. It reads like a spy thriller movie script, and product placements are already lined up: one of the attackers snuck out the back door and took an Uber under a false name. Unlike a James Bond flick though, many of the attackers have since been identified, so the sequel film will have all the excitement of an international extradition hearing.

Current Affairs

No one knows what the next 6 months hold, but that won’t stop consultants from building 2x2 slide decks. Jokes aside, this scenario analysis on possible COVID futures is both topically applicable to our current time as well as perennially applicable for anyone trying to find the best move in an ambiguous situation. They examine for possible future directions and implications, to enable decisions that work well regardless of what actually happens.

Lighter Reading

Promptness is a sign of respect.” Author, traveler, and founder of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly commemorated his 68th birthday with 68 pieces of unsolicited advice. Because of the Paradox of Choice, lists like these tend to be more entertainment than education, but you can change that by picking one thing that matters to you today. For me, today, it was this: “Everyone is shy. Other people are waiting for you to introduce yourself to them, they are waiting for you to send them an email, they are waiting for you to ask them on a date. Go ahead.

Contrarian Viewpoints

Don’t start a company; buy an existing business and grow from there. After years of pain, most startups fail and the founders walk away with nothing. On the other hand, you can buy an existing businesses with cashflow for the price of a decent house downpayment. This adds a third option: success (you grow the company), failure (you go bankrupt), or semi-failure (you have increasing equity in a valuable small business).


To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

Please send recommendations to nate+newsletter@natedesmond.com.