At first glance, superpower and beautiful business are not a congenial couple. Superpower seems too hard, too hegemonial, not really in touch with the small-is-beautiful mindset that might be more conducive to business at human scale.
But as this issue of our Letter shows, power can be beautiful, too—even a superpower. In fact, the new superpowers may be immeasurable and within us—whether a unique talent, a new set of skills, an unshakable belief, a strong mission, or our very human consciousness. What’s yours?
Management guru Tom Peters, a pioneer of human-centered business, now calls for “extreme humanization” in light of AI and automation. For him, a business’s superpower is simple and hasn’t really changed over the decades, despite all technological advances: it’s people, people, people. Jacob Hsu and his startup Catalyte agree only partly. They’ve developed an algorithm for discovering an individual’s superpower, and a business model that connects humans’ ability to learn and re-learn with AI’s capacity to find needles in massive amounts of hay.
Waltz Binaire’s take on AI is distinctively more eerie: the design studio has created an AI-installation—aptly named Narciss—that not only contemplates itself but provides a mirror for us humans to look at ourselves and who we’re becoming.
We hope this issue serves as a mirror, too. You’ll read about superfoods and superfads, superheroes, and superhumans. But don’t let all the superlatives get to you. As Sarah Souli writes, “Perhaps there’s a reason that superpowers are limited to a few humans: it may be our flaws, and our lack of abilities, that make our lives easier to live.”
Your House of Beautiful Business team
How to Be a Superhero
Depending on whom you ask, it might have something to do with footwear. Read more
An Algorithm for Superpowers
One company has figured out how to help people identify a satisfying superpower that upskills them, uplifts their communities, and keeps their clients close. Read more
Meeting Narciss; Meeting Ourselves
What a naked AI can teach us about ourselves. Read more
The Power of Excess
Superpowers are about excess — of emotions, abilities, accomplishments. But it ain’t always easy to have them. Read more
In Conversation: Tom Peters
Management guru Tom Peters’ book “In Search of Excellence” was first published in 1982, and for 20 years it was the bestselling business book of all time. Here’s why.
Of Superfoods and Superfads
Where’s the line? How too much of a good thing can become…less good…and even downright unappetizing. Read more
The Superpower List
A quirky compilation for romantic readers of superpower facts, figures, and fancies. Read more
Photo credits: Dan Carlson, L. W. Hine photograph courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collection, Jules Cyrille Cave painting of Narcissus, Tom Peters, The Kitchn, Miguel Bruna