Vaccine Tourism, Dangerously Gamified Investing, Chief TikTok Officers and the Saddest Date Ever | Non-Obvious Insights #263

Dear karl,

For as long as people have been talking about the pandemic, they have been imagining what the "new normal" will be like. Even the phrase has become a cliche (and inspiration for my upcoming book The Future Normal). This week I had a little taste of the new normal as I took a short post-vaccination holiday with my wife. 

Aside from exploring the islands, I gathered stories to share with you as well - and you'll find an interesting mix of them below. From fears of vaccine tourism to the saddest date ever - I hope you enjoy the stories, and that you find a chance to take a holiday for yourself in the coming months.

Vaccine Tourism and Covid-Related Holiday Guilt

For the past week, my wife and I explored several islands in Turks & Caicos. The island has a fast track to vaccines thanks, ironically, to it's post-colonial ties to its "mother country" of the UK. As a result, the government is actually afraid of "vaccine tourism" - where foreign travelers come to TCI to get vaccinated. As we travelled, I kept thinking of friends across the world who are still in lockdown or waiting to be vaccinated. And I felt guilty. If you were lucky enough to get vaccinated and can afford the time and budget to take your first trip like us, maybe you understand this guilt. If you haven't, one day soon you will. 

The good news is that when you do travel for the first time, you'll see the same stories of resilience that we have this week. Entrepreneurs working to create new experiences. Restaurants that pivoted and endured until the visitors returned. Airports that remain eerily empty, but still operational. Our flight wasn't full, but it wasn't empty either. Travel, in other words, will be back. And you will get to take that first post-pandemic trip, even if it still seems a long way away. When you do, I have just one piece of advice to share: try not to feel too guilty about it.

Jose Cuervo Creates The Saddest Date Ever Between Two Chatbots

Most of us have had our fair share of bad dates. They offer us good stories to tell ... but they are nothing compared to what you could easily consider the saddest date in human history: between two chatbots. What's sad about this isn't the bots, but how relatable all of us might find their conversation. Read the full article for a beautiful list of things you should never say on a date, along with a reminder that when we do start to get back to meeting people in real life or even going on Zoom dates, we need to work hard to go beyond the robotic sorts of conversations that have become so easy to do virtually. Or as Jose Cuervo puts it: You are not a bot. Don't date like one. 

Why Hasbro Seeking A "Chief TikTok Officer" Is Brilliant

By now you might have heard the exciting news: Hasbro is seeking a "Chief TikTok Officer" for its Nerf brand who will craft strategy for the platform and receive a hefty $10,000 per month salary. The only thing that I find unbelievable about this story is that someone else didn't try this stunt first. It's perfect for Nerf's audience demographic, it's a content-rich brand with lots of possibilities and creating this sort of dream job that millions of kids will be lusting after has already created an earned media bonanza for Hasbro and Nerf. So good on them and their team for recruiting someone to help with TikTok ... even though they clearly don't need the marketing strategy help.

Robinhood and The Dangerous Side of Gamified Investing

"By delighting users, Robinhood creates players rather than investors. This helps them overlook the fact that speculative investing is very difficult and could cause them to lose lots of money—even if they're professionals who spend hours and days scrutinizing companies and trades."

Teaching young people to get started with investing and managing their money is undeniably a good thing. Starting with an app that gamifies the process, however, may be a recipe for disaster. In this review of the popular Robinhood app, Fast Company looks at the many ways in which the app may take its gamification of investing too far and obscure the real life implications of investing poorly or going into extreme debt based on bad investments that seemed like a game. This is not only a danger for young people either. When losing money seems easy and fun, people will make bad decisions. Just look at the casinos. 

 

Brain Researchers Find Multiple Benefits To Doing Improv

After studying the brains of adolescents who did improv, researchers found it affected their nervous systems in multiple positive ways. The cardinal "Yes And" rule of improv helped teens to be more accepting of one another and better able to understand and engage in social interactions while the fast pace of improv helped them avoid overthinking and process information more quickly. While the study focused on teens, all these seem like benefits we could all use as well. 

My Beach/Vacation Reading List ...

People often ask me about what I'm reading, and I thought sharing my book choices might be a nice feature this week. And yes, I actually brought all these physical books with me and read almost all of them. Half of my bag was books. The important half. :-)
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - Another mind bending "what if" style Sci-Fi novel from Blake Crouch, a quick read with an interesting and unexpected twist at the end. 
  • Self Care by Leigh Stein - I ordered Self Care after reading an article by the author and this book doesn't disappoint. It's an unusually smart exploration of "woke culture" that manages to both respect and ridicule it simultaneously. Not an easy thing to do.  
  • Flight by Sherman Alexie - This book found me at a used bookstore just a few days before my trip. I have always loved Alexie's raw unfiltered writing about the Native American experience and this dream-like book was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful. 
  • EXTRA BOLD: a feminist inclusive anti-racist nonbinary field guide for graphic designers - My advance copy of this one arrived just before heading out on the trip and I'll be interviewing several of the authors on an upcoming episode of my show so of course I had to bring this one along. I'm only 50 pages in and already have learned a ton. 
  • Ex Libris by Simon Groth - I had been looking forward to finding time to read this one since I first ordered it more than a year ago. It's an ambitious novel with a fascinating backstory (the 12 chapters of the book are arranged at random so no two copies are exactly identical). 
  • The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams - On a quiet afternoon at the Unicorn Bookstore (the only one on the island), I picked up this book based on the dust jacket description of the story alone. It reminded me of The Professor and the Madman, a book that I loved. This is the book I'm currently reading (today is the last day of vacation so this will be my plane reading on the way home). 
How are these stories curated?
Every week I spend hours going through hundreds of stories in order to curate this email. Want to discuss how I could bring this thinking to your next event as a virtual speaker? Visit my speaking page >>
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