Iterate Weekly - Issue 139
This week we're talking about Black Friday shopping, Gen Z's small talk, climate change is impacting your holiday dinner, Pizza Hut turns The Sphere into a billboard, and "Please Don't Destroy"!
Welcome to issue 139 of Iterate Weekly!
Hope you’re all doing well. This is just a friendly reminder that you can always reply directly to these messages or leave a comment on the Substack post. Feedback is highly encouraged and I’m happy to answer any and all questions that come up.
Let’s jump into this week’s stories.
Shopify’s holiday shopping globe is mind boggling
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably overwhelmed with all of the consumerism that happens this time of year. The weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is becoming just one giant wave of promotional emails and sales alerts.
The folks at Shopify have created a virtual representation that shows just how much money we’re all spending in real time.
The globe will give hot spot indicators showing where people are spending money around the world via Shopify’s servers. It is actually pretty impressive to see the gold arcs of light between seller and recipient. It is a very visceral reminder of how global our economy has become. At the time of writing this, I was seeing about $1.7 million dollars USD spent per minute around the world.
Obviously this data is all good for Shopify’s bottom line. And the fact that they create this illustration is certainly good promotion for their brand and consumerism in general. But no matter how you feel about holiday shopping, it’s a real feat in data visualization if you ask me.
For those who are interesting in really nerding out on the data, I suggest you play around with it yourself here.
Gen Z needs help with small talk
It seems like every generation thinks that the younger generation isn’t as good at things that they were. “Back in my day we were great at (insert skill here)” Kids these days don’t know how to (insert skill here).”
Well maybe it’s true that Gen Z is having some trouble making small talk.
Networking and career-based small talk can be challenging for anyone, certainly myself included. But it’s fascinating to hear that this skill is so poor among young people, that schools are making a very concerted effort to offer more networking and career socialization courses.
The digital skills that are often taken for granted by Gen Z may not include the ability to feign interest during in-person conversation, or ask the right follow-up questions at the precise time. Students are pushing for more mentorship opportunities and simulated professional experiences to help hone their skills.
According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, just 54% of college seniors felt they possessed “very/extremely proficient” communication skills.
Even as someone who majored in the extremely vague and increasingly meaningless “Communications” field, I could have definitely benefited from more tactical career communications courses. Here’s to hoping schools can better equip this generation to be more proficient in this essential skill.
♻️ Health/Environment/Electric Vehicles
The most climate-impacted foods on your holiday plate
It’s no secret that climate change is impacting the cost and availability of certain crops around the world. But what are some of the foods that seem to be most impacted by climate change?
Vox put together a list of the most noticeable offenders that include steak, olive oil, and blueberries.
Excessive heat in the United States this summer took a toll on cattle farms. With cows producing less milk, many dairy prices were on the rise. And obviously, the cost of beef was impacted as well.
Heat and drought conditions in the Mediterranean caused an uptick in global olive oil prices as well this year. In some cases, olive oil’s price soared above the price of crude oil being used for fuel.
And an El Niño year in Peru caused blueberry production to reduce by nearly 40 percent. This helped spike the cost of the already pricey berry in store shelves around the world. While blueberries may not be a traditional item in many holiday plates in North America, the cost of including them in a pie or other dessert may be cost prohibitive this year.
These are only a few examples from the excellent write up linked above. The moral of the story is that we should all take a moment to appreciate the foods that are in-season and affordable in the areas we live, because we never know when an act of nature can cause things to change quickly.
🛍 Grab Bag
Pizza Hut turns The Sphere into a giant billboard
I still have yet to visit the Las Vegas Sphere in-person, but it’s found its way into my writing several times now. My interest was piqued again this week when I read about plans for Pizza Hut to turn the giant orb into a billboard for pizza.
How naive am I to have never considered a facade this large to be used for a pizza ad? I know the back story of embattled New York Knick’s owner James Dolan being the one in charge of The Sphere. Let’s just say that his business practices have been highly scrutinized in the past. Of course he’s going to make some cash by turning his modern marvel of a building into a rotating pepperoni commercial.
Of course they’re calling the marketing initiative “Pie in the Sky” and it’s to promote some new $7 menu offered at Pizza Hut. I’m not sure I should even be giving them extra free promotion but there it is. Apparently people will be able to scan some QR codes and get some free pizzas too.
The Sphere is in the midst of a U2 residency right now and by all accounts seems to be a smashing success. Tickets are hard to come by and they don’t seem to need any additional publicity themselves. So pizza ads seem like a questionable move when vying to become the premiere performance space in Las Vegas and potentially the world.
I can only imagine the can of worms that’s getting opened here. Today it’s pizza, what do you think we’ll see on that enormous screen next?
💬 Quote of the Week
"An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day."
🎥 Content Review
Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain
Here’s a fun comedic romp for you to check out if you’re in the need for some laughs.
I recently checked out the new film from the “Please Don’t Destroy” guys of SNL fame. The movie has a bit of a clunky title, “Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain” and it’s about as zany as you’d expect.
It has a star-studded cast beyond the three main protagonists who may not be super well-known yet outside of dedicated SNL circles. Conan O’Brien and Bowen Yang are particularly great in their small roles. I’d say the 6.2 rating I saw on IMDB is about right. It’s not an amazing movie, but still a really solid first effort by the guys who are typically making 2 minute long clips for SNL. But the laugh out loud moments were very potent for me. Sometimes I’m willing to sacrifice a plot for a few strong laughs.
I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next week!
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