Welcome to the maiden voyage of the monthly(ish) Mix – an aggressively moderate blend of things worth thinking about, from the deeply insightful to the indulgently ridiculous. Without further ado, here’s what’s in the Mix:
BET ON THE (SLIGHTLY) LOSING TEAM
Can losing lead to winning? Analysis of over 45,000 NCAA and 18,000 NBA games found that teams behind by a point at halftime were actually more likely to win than teams ahead by a point.
The study, quoted in Daniel Pink’s newest book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, argues that being slightly behind motivates us to give the extra effort that can pave the way to victory. A lab experiment found the same result. In a simple competition of who could press two buttons in quick succession as many times as possible, players who were told they were slightly behind outperformed those told they were slightly ahead or given no information.
The takeaway is that trailing by just a tad motivates us to dig deep and work a little harder – and that next time your squad is down 1 at halftime, they may have the other team right where they want ‘em.
AMAZON, WARREN BUFFETT, AND the BIGGEST BANK IN AMERICA WALK INTO A HOSPITAL…
No, it’s not the set-up for the worst joke ever. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway,1 and JP Morgan Chase announced last week that they intend to form the old-rich-white-guy Avengers2 in hopes of disrupting the colossal mess that is the US healthcare system. The stated goal of the team-up is not profit, but to solve for the “ballooning costs of healthcare [that] act as a tapeworm on the American economy” by focusing on “technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.”
What might “Amazon Health” look like? Stratechery’s Ben Thompson provides a brilliant overview of what the solution might be, suggesting that the group could build a next-gen digital infrastructure for healthcare – an online marketplace or “aggregator” – that directly connects patients with medical services while increasing price transparency and efficiency of care. Best of all, Prime members will be able to stream Season 3 of Sneaky Pete for free with any prescription drug purchase!
There’s good reason for skepticism. Thompson himself warns that this process will take years to get off the ground. Disruption in healthcare doesn’t work like in other industries, as Google and Microsoft learned from their own failed healthcare ventures. A high-tech marketplace won’t change broken payment models that fail to reward the preventative, upstream care that often helps people the most. There is no magic bullet.
Healthcare is a challenge unlike any other – even for a trio as impressive as Amazon, Warren Buffett, and the nation’s biggest bank. The real reason for hope may not be the service the trio can build, but the signal their partnership sends that private companies are finally fed up with the status quo. When money talks, everyone listens.
WE FOUND A JOB WORSE THAN YOURS
Every once in a while, you stumble across something so clever, so funny, that you almost don’t enjoy it – you’re just mad you didn’t think of it first. This video satirizing the job of Stephen A. Smith’s closed caption transcriber as the “hardest job in sports” lands in that category.3
There’s only one thing wrong with that near-perfect parody: there is indeed a harder job in sports than Stephen A. Smith’s closed caption transcriber.
Could you imagine if your job was to enthusiastically feed Stephen A. the trigger for his next awful rant, then sit quietly while he spews 90-decibel nonsense directly into your right ear?
Meet the host of First Take, Molly Qerim! Get out, Molly! Save yourself!
Have suggestions for what should be in the Mix? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.