I’m here for our board meeting. No, it’s not some lavish boondoggle. I’m too cheap for that. 

It’s just that the sort of people who serve on East Coast boards like ours spend their winters in Florida and it’s easier to come to them. Not that I don’t relish the excuse to get away from the shitty weather for a couple days. Of course, it was 65 degrees when I left Pittsburgh on Thursday. Just my luck.

Anyway, I sincerely love our board, which is extremely rare, based on what I hear from my entrepreneur friends. And I’m not just saying that because they read this. 

Yes, they kick my ass. Preparing for the meetings blows. It’s never all good news and I inevitably have to own bad decisions I’ve made or goals we’ve missed. Our investors have a lot of money at stake in our success and few things compare to carrying that burden when it’s someone you care about, someone who shows the kind of faith they’ve shown in us. 

Most of them have been with us for a decade, some longer. We’ve tested their patience. We’ve had big whiffs. But the amount I’ve learned from them is incalculable. There’s no substitute for guidance from people who’ve done what you’re trying to do. 

Most of all, over the decade-plus they’ve directed the company, they’ve never once asked us to veer from our vision or higher purpose. Not when we took years to get our data to scale. Not when we struggled to sell customers on our unconventional methodology. 

It’s not that they don’t challenge us or demand big changes when things aren’t working. But it’s always in-bounds. Never burning the boats.

Every few months, I give a presentation to waves of new CivicScientists, walking them through the long history of the company, our raison d’etre, and our leadership principles. At the end of that presentation is one slide, taken undisturbed from the very first investor deck I wrote all the way back in 2008. This:   

Fortunately, we overcame my uninspired PowerPoint skills. I did love that logo, though.

I can’t tell you how proud I am that despite all the time, all the ups and downs, the twists and turns, and all the economic and market forces blowing against us, we landed exactly where I dreamed we could be. 

I hope you’re lucky enough in your life and your career to be supported the way I’ve been. 

It’s so much better than doing it alone.

Here’s what we’re seeing: 

Denim has seen better days. This is why I need our data sometimes, because I’m definitely not part of this trend. I pretty much wear jeans every day until it’s shorts season. But apparently the popularity of denim among everyone else is in steep decline. Quarantine started it and sustained remote work kept it going – as comfort replaced style and durability, at least for anything worn below the Zoom screen. It varies a lot among shoppers at different retailers too. The trend goes beyond COVID, though, as Gen Z is far less likely to buy denim than older generations. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I noticed Maddie or Noelle in a pair of jeans. 

Trust in the police took a big hit over the past month. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at changing public sentiment toward the police in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ murder. It’s not a pretty picture. Trust among the oldest group of Americans (65+) fell below that of 55- to 64-year-olds for the first time ever – otherwise the correlation between age and trust in cops is remarkable (and pretty consistent with institutional trust across the board). The big drop came among 18- to 24-year-olds, where trust fell a whopping 14 percentage points in 30 days. (Note: Among the other things to know, less than half of people who said they were going to do Dry January actually did it).

A lot of Americans plan to take big vacations this year, economic headwinds be damned. It’s hard to believe we’ll see the same onslaught of European vacations we saw last year, but people don’t seem to be fazed yet by tighter household finances. Nearly 1 in 4 expected travelers plan to fly overseas, with slightly more planning to fly domestically. People seeking relaxing vacations have fallen five percentage points over last year, while sightseeing and adventure trips are up. If you’re in the travel booking business, you’ll want to be fishing in a pond of Gen Zs over the next couple months.  

Food delivery app usage is up to start the year and DoorDash is still the race leader. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they’re too lazy to get takeout reached a new high-water mark (39%) in January, with 1 in 4 delivery app users summoning food to their homes (or work) at least once a week. Over half of users alternate between multiple apps and 12% use four or more. DoorDash remains the most popular choice, over Uber Eats and Grubhub, while DoorDash’s new partnership with Roku could stretch their lead even further

Our massive new State of the Auto Industry Report came out and I found a few head-scratching stats. You can see a subset of interesting factoids in this giant infographic or access the full report if you want to be really smart. All I’ll tell you without making you work for it is that the percentage of Americans who spend two or more hours in their car every day is up significantly from even pre-pandemic times and, for some reason, Vermont has the highest percentage of car purchase intenders of any state in our great nation. Who knew?   

We’re uncannily divided – and that’s saying something – over the Super Bowl. By a small margin, Americans expect the Philadelphia Eagles (34%) to hoist the Lombardi Trophy against the Kansas City Chiefs (29%) on Sunday. However, in a country that loves underdogs (if only by a measly 1.5 points), 30% of U.S. adults will be rooting for Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs over Jalen Hurts’ Eagles (29%). As far back as we’ve tracked the Super Bowl, I can’t ever remember seeing the rooting interests so evenly split (particularly during the years when everyone rooted against the evil, cheating Patriots).   

More fascinating insights from the CivicScientists this week:

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Because my opinion helps to inform and influence decision-makers at some of the most impactful companies in the world; Nope, already found it; Absolutely not; Yes and it was painful but worth it; A little, but my success isn’t a big factor to them; By accidentally spilling scalding hot coffee on them. 

Hoping you’re well.


PS: Beginning next month, this email will come from jd@news.civicscience.com. Please add it to your contacts.