STLFT #3: Possibility-As-A-Product: Superbad, Clubhouse & the "Inciting Incident"

We watched Booksmart the other night, which is basically the female Superbad. Two goodie two-shoes girls decide they want to have a high school party experience before they graduate and they decide to attend a graduation party, but end up on a boat where a classmate spikes their drink with shrooms, a houseparty where a teacher sleeps with a student, one’s crush makes out with the other’s crush and a yelling fight ensues where they learn about friendship, freedom and their futures and learn to value their not-as-studious classmates as interesting and valuable people in their own right.

Every movie is built around the Inciting Incident (or incidents) - the “the major change or formative event that ignites the protagonist’s connection with the antagonist.”

There are a lot of social apps popping up trying to make interacting online just like interacting in person, and the “hottest” one right now at least in VC world is Clubhouse, and we think they are missing the point because they fundamentally miss why we go out - because we’re in constant search of our own life’s inciting incidents. Possibility is the product. “Going out” or “meeting up in person” is not the actual product that a party, an in-person event, a trip to the bar is selling you. It’s the hope that in going out, SOMETHING will happen.

We delve more into this idea in our medium post: Possibility-As-A-Product: Superbad, Clubhouse & the "Inciting Incident."

Read More Here

What We’re Reading

In case you missed it, Our Own Announcement Post on Medium about what we're doing at Maxwell, and last week’s article, COVID is Calling Our Bluff.

Drew Austin on his Kneeling Bus Newsletter about Rave Culture & Creating a Rich Reality w/out IRL Assistance

I enjoyed Drew’s article because I think it’s related to the above - “creating a rich reality” is another way of saying “searching for inciting incidents,” and the platforms that have been able to successfully do that digitally, create some semblance of meaning online, are getting more valuable.
“The internet is sufficiently robust by now to at least attempt the Herculean project of creating its own rich reality without IRL assistance. One quality of digital space that was always apparent but has become more noticeable in isolation is that there are places online where meaning is created and others where meaning is consumed, as we can observe in the one-way flow of information from TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter toward intermediate platforms like Instagram and Facebook.”

Coronavirus might have killed the influencer market (sad!)
Influencer marketing started as essentially community marketing - you’d trust that person on instagram more than an ad on cable news, etc. But clearly the bottom is falling out from it, perhaps as influencers become less and less connected to their actual communities they are advocating for and just post thirst traps and promote a product.

My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years: Does the World Need it Anymore?

Very interesting and emotional in-depth look into Prune and it’s closing down for Coronavirus, and she talks a bit about the economics of running a restaurant in a way I found interesting: “The concerns before coronavirus are still universal: The restaurant as we know it is no longer viable on its own. You can’t have tipped employees making $45 an hour while line cooks make $15. You can’t buy a $3 can of cheap beer at a dive bar in the East Village if the “dive bar” is actually paying $18,000 a month in rent, $30,000 a month in payroll; it would have to cost $10. I can’t keep hosing down the sauté corner myself just to have enough money to repair the ripped awning. Prune is in the East Village because I’ve lived in the East Village for more than 30 years. I moved here because it was where you could get an apartment for $450 a month. In 1999, when I opened Prune, I still woke each morning to roosters crowing from the rooftop of the tenement building down the block, which is now a steel-and-glass tower. A less-than-500-square-foot studio apartment rents for $3,810 a month.

The girl who called about brunch the first day we were closed probably lives there. She is used to having an Uber driver pick her up exactly where she stands at any hour of the day, a gel mani-pedi every two weeks and award-winning Thai food delivered to her door by a guy who braved the sleet, having attached oven mitts to his bicycle handlebars to keep his hands warm. But I know she would be outraged if charged $28 for a Bloody Mary.”

We’ve been making this point for a little bit about how the current model of gathering just doesn’t work because the economics don’t work. Maxwell is banking on the fact that you won’t want to pay $28 for a Bloody Mary.

Matt Damon is Stranded in an Irish Community Who Has Taken Him In

A Seaside Irish Village Adopts Matt Damon - The New York Times

Overall interesting article about how a town has prided itself on taking in Matt Damon during the crisis after he got stranded. “Dalkey residents rallying against a new common enemy: outsiders who ask too many questions about their Matt O’Damon, as some now call him.” and “Unlike his celebrity peers in the United States who have been skewered for trying to connect to commoners, Mr. Damon had become a symbol of togetherness while living in a gated residence in one of the priciest neighborhoods in Ireland.”

Jerry Seinfeld’s Life Work Article in HBR

I loved this quote about his work building Seinfeld with Larry David.
“If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it—every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life.”

It was a good little lesson (that perhaps shouldn’t be taken TOO literally) for startup founders - I’ve found that often the startup journey includes so many twists and turns that if you aren’t somewhat micromanaging things and involved in your company you will veer off the road. I know lots of founders who thought they could set it and leave it that ended up losing everything. It’s one of the reasons why startup studios often don’t work, in my opinion. That said, need to delegate too of course.

Wisdom or Madness of Crowds

I loved this interactive website about the wisdom or the madness of crowds. In short, you want to optimize for Small World Networks. It got me thinking about how what industries maybe are no longer small world networks but so well networked that they are now groupthink (*cough* silicon valley *cough*).

How COVID-19 Is Challenging Cultures

Interesting podcast to listen to - Germans are resistant to mandates due to what you could say is PTSD from authoritarianism from Nazis to Soviet control, Chinese are proud and view their authoritarian control and squashing of the virus as validation that their system is the best, etc. Worth a listen.

Chinese Roadtrippers

This couple road trips to Chinese restaurants all around the nation and takes photos. Pretty cool

Kitchen Island of the Week

Haberdasher Kitchen by deVOL Kitchens.

Comic Relief

A new Coronavirus cure inspired by our brilliant president.

For those of us who have signed up for Peloton and have had to use makeshift weights . . .

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David Litwak