In this week’s newsletter, we start with a look at Apple’s best apps of the year that are making a “cultural impact.” Then we’ll consider whether it’s possible to be too beautiful. Other stories will spotlight the unusual thinking behind why studios cancel films, how a Japanese luxury beer might revolutionize fine dining, and how a controversial moment from a Delta flight became a huge missed opportunity for the airline industry.
Enjoy the non-obvious stories this week and get ready for a special “Black Friday” issue of the newsletter next week!
Cultural Themes from Apple’s App of the Year Award Finalists
Apple announced all the finalists for their App of the Year awards and the majority are the sorts of apps you would expect. Image manipulation tools and productivity apps to help you create better images, videos, or content. Buried within the awards announcement, though, is a category that stood out: apps that deliver “Cultural Impact.” The eight selections in this group are fascinating.
Shortlisted apps in this category include an app to help women track menopause symptoms, an “eco-conscious adventure” where you can see the world through the eyes of the last fox on Earth, a Montessori pre-school game that promises it is “designed to NOT be addictive,” an app that helps non-speaking people communicate, and a food waste reduction app that helps people pick up “surprise bags” of excess food for a low price from bakeries, restaurants and supermarkets at the end of the day before they throw it out.
The apps are worth browsing and the good news is that several of them are available for Android too for all of us non-iPhone users.
Is It Possible to Be Too Beautiful?
What if being beautiful or athletically gifted isn’t as great as most people think?
It is true that being good looking is often linked to getting opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have and this so-called “pretty privilege” often results in gifts, special access and even better career opportunities. Similarly, those who excel at sports are often socially popular at a young age, gaining more confidence early in life. But is there a downside to having more beauty or greater athletic ability? In other words, can you be too beautiful?
To start with, the intelligence of beautiful or athletic people is often assumed to be lower. So when supermodel Karli Kloss acquires a company, she is first described as a super model rather than a savvy business woman. Despite writing more than ten books about algebra that help girls fall in love with math and co-authoring a “groundbreaking mathematical physics theorem,” Danica McKellar is still mainly described as an actress and gets more attention for “rocking a pink mini dress.” Kim Kardashian is credited for her body sculpting undergarments while her journey to become a force in criminal justice and study to be a lawyer are far less known.
The same happens for men. Former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went to Harvard, has been called “the NFL’s brainiest quarterback,” which seems like a compliment and insult rolled into one. Handsome men can be widely disliked by other men. Plus good looking people report getting far more unwelcome romantic advances on professional social media platforms and often being unsure about whether a new business connection is actually interested in working together or something else.
So are the negatives of being better looking or more gifted in sports enough to cancel out the benefits? Is this really a problem worth thinking about? Let me know your thoughts!
Is Killing the Coyote vs. Acme Film Real or the Future of Marketing?
Now that the creative strikes in Hollywood are resolved, studios are finalizing their plans for projects that were all on hold. Unfortunately, this includes announcing that some films will not be released and the slightly anticipated Coyote vs. Acme animated film is among that list. Apparently the rationale is primarily linked to the fact that killing the project will create a $30m tax write-off.
This must be the most frustrating reason for a creative person to have their project shelved. But given the early outcry from fans (many of whom had probably never heard of the film before), perhaps this will turn out to be a diabolically clever way to use our current outrage culture to nurture some demand and audience for the film. It seems like a win-win scenario for the studio.
Either they follow through on burying the project and take the write-off, or become heroes by caving to the public outcry that they themselves created and release the film after all. Clearly the only thing that matters to the decision makers here is the money.
The Tragic Business Lesson in the Story of The Passenger Who Refused to Stop Singing on A Flight
I take a lot of flights and listening to someone singing or promoting themselves is near the bottom of things I would want to listen to. It’s a pretty close second to those desperate pitches to try and get me to fill out an application for an airline credit card.
An unwelcome private concert is what passengers on a recent Delta flight were subjected to when a singer named Bobbi Storm turned her flight into a stage for herself and refused to stop singing claiming she was “doing what the Lord is telling me to do” and that it was not against the rules because “the seat belt light was not on.”
The video of the incident went viral and people widely criticized the singer for her self-absorbed egotism. Of course, the original video was posted to the singer’s Instagram so the whole thing was pretty obviously a staged bit of self-promotion. The story continued several days later when the singer posted a video herself noting that Delta had reached out to her to apologize and “noted that she did not want the flight attendant to be ‘reprimanded’ or lose his job.”
Unfortunately, the article I read about this (on Entrepreneur.com, a business publication) made no mention of the sad example that this story sets. A customer behaves badly, bullies fellow customers into silence, attacks an employee for simply acting professionally and doing his job, posts about the whole incident while playing the victim, incites her “fans” on social media to come to her defense and manages to extract an apology from a major brand that justifies her bad behavior and shows others they can do the same.
This is a tragic missed opportunity. In a time when passenger behavior is getting dangerously worse, this was the perfect chance for a major airline brand to stand behind their people and set an example for what is (and what isn’t) acceptable behavior on a flight. There is a way to be polite and human as a brand without caving to every unreasonable customer situation and reducing the faith from your own people that you’ll have their back when they are attacked verbally or physically.
We can all be better airline passengers. It starts with remembering that the flight is not about you. You are paying for a journey from one place to another and the very least you can do is sit down, be polite and let the airline pilots and crew get you to your destination safely and on time. And definitely don’t sing.
Tokyo Rococo White Aims to Create a Market for Luxury Beer in Fancy Restaurants
In the finest restaurants in the world, beer is rarely served. The reason isn’t because beer couldn’t pair well with great food, but because a beer that chefs and restauranteurs would serve with pride didn’t exist, according to the makers of Japan’s first luxury beer known as ROCOCO Tokyo WHITE. The beer is described with the same sort of loving language usually reserved for fine wine:
“We brew ROCOCO Tokyo WHITE in Shizuoka, Japan from the naturally purified waters of Mount Fuji. With its silky luxurious texture, fruity aroma and sharp finish, ROCOCO Tokyo WHITE is described as having the delicate texture of champagne and the depth of a fine wine or nihonshu.”
The pitch is working. Since launching last year, the beer is served in over 100 Michelin starred restaurants across Japan and has been expanding to other countries as well. The beer is meant to be served in a wine glass and the bottle design as well as their gift packaging is so popular, people are even selling used bottles on eBay.
Even More Non-Obvious Stories …
Every week I always curate more stories than I’m able to explore in detail. Instead of skipping those stories, I started to share them in this section so you can skim the headlines and click on any that spark your interest:
- IBM’s Ingenious Solution for a Typewriter with Swappable Fonts
- The Plight of the Eldest Daughter
- Humane’s Ai Pin is a $700 Smartphone Alternative You Wear All Day
- Google Partners with South Africa to Fix Unfair Search Results for Small Travel Operators
- The Search for Alien Intelligence Just Scored a $200 Million Boost
How are these stories curated?
Every week I spend hours going through hundreds of stories in order to curate this email. Looking for a speaker to inspire your team to become non-obvious thinkers through a keynote or workshop? Watch my new 2023 speaking reel on YouTube >>
This Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter is curated by Rohit Bhargava.
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