The Best of OZY, Week of April 21
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you might have missed these stories from the past week — give them a gander over your lazy Sunday brunch.
I love OZY. Yeah, I realize I’m supposed to, as the co-founder and CEO. But I’m a curious person — and what I want most from my news is getting to learn. And what I want most from my learning is to notice big, gorgeous ideas. Ideas that could teach me something new about where to put my money, about how to be a better son or brother or friend, about how to bring it better on the basketball court.
So I love OZY, because I truly do feel like we deliver on helping readers see more than the same 25-or-so stories that so many other mainstream publications cover. But especially because I feel like my team of writers at OZY helps me learn about not only new people, trends and ideas, but also — and more importantly — big ideas that are relevant, broadening and often definitively ahead of the curve. Each week, I look forward to highlighting a few such pieces for you that you may have missed — or may even want to enjoy again.
Here we go…
Sean Braswell’s piece on how one music label passed on the then-not-yet-famous Beatles was terrific. What a spectacular and unexpected story — and told with such verve and magical writing. It makes the talented Mr. Braswell blush when I swear to others that he’s the next Michael Lewis, but I’m happy to say it anyway. The big lesson I took from this story wasn’t just that even the big-timers fail — and sometimes fail big — but also that hard work and doubling-down after a big-time loss can really pay off. And that Ringo Starr deserves some credit – the Beatles might not have made it without him.
I loved the profile on the British director Amma Asante, written by television producer Susan Fales Hill (of Cosby Show renown). Not only have I been looking forward to seeing her movie Belle — which makes me think ”Scandal meets Jane Austen” — but I was also struck by her insistence on creating a period piece that featured a woman of color in a prominent role. That’s a big idea — sociologically speaking, certainly, but also in business: It’s like realizing how enormous a market still remains untouched and unrelatable for many women around the world. So it’s a stroke of brilliant business to take Sense and Sensibility and make it punch even more directly for billions of women around the world — by letting them see themselves in it. Certainly, I’m not saying that women of color (or anyone) can enjoy a piece only if someone of their race is featured as the lead. But we all understand the innate, intimate and empathetic power that comes with seeing someone like you in a story that hits home.
I think the idea behind the visually based dating site DreamCliq is a great one. Remove all that chatter that comes with making a profile entirely out of text, and replace it with the images you feel represent you. The concept is fascinating, intriguing, and a chance for people to actually get a little bit unique in the homogenous world of online dating. But this isn’t just about dating. The idea of taking text-based ideas and reimagining them with photos or videos is what allowed the founders of Instagram to take Twitter to another medium. There’s an important lesson in people noticing a great idea and reimagining it on a different platform.
Steven Butler’s piece comparing central bankers to roaming rōnin — or samurai warriors — is ingenious, playful and just downright informative. With our global economy more interconnected than ever, who knew that our country’s chief bankers are no longer homegrown, in many cases, and instead come in as outsiders to fix and fly away? Not only is this an important window into a part of the economy none of us know about, but it also challenged me to think about the implications of this interesting trend — and there is so much more to mine here. Is that practice of outsider-as-problem-solver good? Bad? Just the way it is? And what can other institutions learn from it? Is it at all like what sports teams do — firing the boss in exchange for an outsider — or what the city of Detroit did in the face of financial collapse? An idea worth pocketing.
Finally, Eugene S. Robinson’s fourth installment of his memoir series — which we’ve affectionately titled around the office Eugene Has Lived — quite simply brought the noise. For as long as I’ve known him, Eugene has always been a great storyteller — and he’s lived a richer, wilder, weirder life than most of us. Which is what led us to finally ask him to tell us not only about world leaders and new restaurants, but also about the wild ride of his own life stories. This week’s installment was a doozy. How is it that, over the course of about four decades, a black guy from Brooklyn just keeps on running into white supremacists? A startling, sobering and just fantastically told story.
There was so much more on OZY this week; as for these best-of picks, I hope you enjoy them, reflect on them, mine our site for the other big ideas we’re so interested in documenting, and — if you think our reads are worthy — share them.