I’m definitely not the smartest guy in the world.

I almost missed a flight once because I spent a half hour frantically looking for my phone in the dark, using the flashlight on my phone. I’m intellectually incapable of plugging in a USB cord on the first try.  

This email might make me sound intelligent sometimes, but I’m merely regurgitating the work of other brilliant people in our company. I know as much about data science as I do Southeast Asian politics. Which is, to say, nothing. 

But there’s one thing I know more about than all of you. Combined. I’ll bet it’s a subject I know more about than anyone on the planet. 

You have no idea how often they say the word “dick” in TV shows and movies. It happens more than you’d ever realize and it seems to be growing more popular by the day.  

There are two primary connotations: The more literal, phallic one that’s typically uttered in PG-13 (or worse) movies and the more pejorative one, an insult aimed at someone of an unlikable disposition, which you can hear on network TV. 

There are more obscure references too, like a nickname for Richard – Tracy, Van Dyke, etc. – or a gumshoe from the 1950s. Bonus points if you didn’t have to look up gumshoe.

But the less innocent connotations are the most prevalent ones. You can hear both in the first episode of Ted Lasso. There are so many dicks in a typical Judd Apatow screenplay, you’d think his keyboard is stuck on the letters. 

Inevitably, it lands as a punchline, an exclamation point at the end of a line of dialog, followed by a comedic, pregnant pause. And when it happens while you’re watching with your adolescent and teenage daughters – whose last name happens to be Dick – that pause isn’t just pregnant, it’s 9 ½ months pregnant, with quadruplets.  

I can’t be certain whether dick is more prevalent today, or whether I only began noticing how prevalent it was in those painfully awkward moments with our kids. You could tell it hurts their feelings, if only for a millisecond. 

I hope it toughens them up or at least gives them a confident sense of humor to carry throughout their lives (that’s how it worked for me). Or maybe they’re just counting the days until they can change it. That’s up to them.

I’ll just keep being a Dick.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Consumer confidence ever-so-very-slightly improved in our latest reading. The less uplifting interpretation is that economic sentiment is simply bouncing along the bottom of a dumpster and we shouldn’t read into the modest gains at all. It’s certainly hard to explain any material improvements over the past two weeks. The stock market is shaky, last week’s job numbers were anything but stellar, and Omicron has barely begun to make its rounds. Perhaps we’re seeing a resilient and cheerful boost of Christmas spirit. Or it could just be such a small change that it doesn’t mean anything. I’m going with the latter. 

The crypto surge isn’t slowing. Notwithstanding a notable (and temporary) selloff last weekend, all of the trends we’re monitoring around cryptocurrency are accelerating – and maturing on multiple dimensions. While the number of crypto investors keeps growing, more and more are viewing it as a long-term growth investment and a hedge against adverse economic conditions, rather than a high-risk lottery ticket. One in four Americans say they would prefer to invest in crypto, versus traditional stocks, if they had more money to deploy. But it’s the rapid increase in that group that should blow you away. (On a self-serving note, we’re launching a groundbreaking consumer cryptocurrency tracking product in early January. It’s not free and you can’t pay for it in Bitcoin. Sorry.)  

Free (or at least reimbursable) at-home COVID tests should drive adoption, just not enough. The percentage of U.S. adults who intend (i.e. “very likely”) to purchase DIY testing kits more than doubles when posed with the potential to be fully reimbursed by their health insurer for the expense. That’s good. What’s not so good is that the percentage merely jumped from 9% to 19%. Even when we include the “somewhat likely” intender group, less than half of Americans would actively consider using at-home tests, even if they were free. Are people that averse to poking their brains with a stick through their nose? Or do they just not trust them? 

Most people want to turn over their entire wardrobe right now. Nearly two years into COVID, people are getting sick of everything in their closets. A full 20% of Americans are planning a big purge of their closets, another 19% want to turn over their wardrobe but probably won’t and another 20% already did. Gen Xers and Boomers AND remote workers are particularly tired of their current wardrobe. The numbers are very even by gender. It should create a great opportunity for apparel retailers as people come out of their winter hibernation next year. 

Yellowstone is a fascinating crossover hit. This is a show that’s totally on my to-do list, as soon as I suck it up and subscribe to another streaming service. I love Western-themed stuff (if you haven’t seen Old Henry, you’re doing it wrong). By modern standards, Yellowstone is a certifiable hit, with nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults saying they’ve watched it and another 20% (like me) planning to. But what’s especially impressive about the show is how it seems to be spanning conventional tribal lines. Yes, the watcher is more likely to be a political Conservative, which fits the stereotype. But the audience is simultaneously more likely to be an urban-dweller, not the rural southerner or westerner you’d expect. Even Yellowstone’s brand partnership with Wrangler looks like a winner. 

Coincidentally, this week’s Dumbest Guy in the Room podcast episode explores the fragmentation of media, the impact of TikTok, and lots more. I was joined by tech and media luminaries, Sara Fischer from Axios, and Rich Greenfield from LightShed Partners. The conversation will make your head spin into the metaverse (whatever the hell that is). 

Additional studies from our prolific team this week:

These were our most popular questions this week:

Answer Key:  I love it; Not without breaking a ton of stuff; Gross; Yes I did; Never on purpose, often by accident

Hoping you’re well.



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