Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

Code + Community

older | 1 | .... | 514 | 515 | (Page 516) | 517 | 518 | .... | 603 | newer

    0 0

    Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of Forerunner Ventures, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the direct-to-consumer business model, making early-stage investments in eyewear purveyor Warby Parker, beauty companies Glossier and Birchbox, and luggage vendor Away, among many others. (Her prescience paid off in a big way in 2016 with blockbuster acquisitions of two of her portfolio companies: Walmart bought Jet.com for $3.3 billion, and Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.) Today Forerunnner is announcing a new, $360 million fund–one of the largest raised by a woman-founded venture firm–and Green spoke exclusively with Fast Company about the evolving startup landscape, and where and how she plans to invest. Edited excerpts follow:

    What’s changed since Forerunner began investing in earnest?

    In 2012…you could get some early traction on a relatively small amount of money. I’m not saying that’s not true now, but if you look forward six years later, there are more startups, more money coming into the ecosystem, the job market has gotten tighter, the competition for talent has become greater, the costs are higher, and the bar is higher for meeting new milestones. [But the opportunity for] unlocking scale has also served as a calling card for [attracting] more money. It’s [grown] exponentially in terms of the appetite and the opportunity to put more money to work.

    So how do you win in this environment?

    Very broadly speaking, we see a customer who has evolved and [who] is driving a lot of new demand. Any company that’s playing into that with a better product, a better service, or a better experience is ripe to benefit. That can be companies like Dollar Shave Club or Glossier that are selling products or creating a new distribution channels…or a company like [mobile banking company] Chime. In many ways people would look at that and say, “That’s a financial services company.” But from our perspective, finances are a big part of the consumer journey. We saw an opportunity to meet that evolving consumer with a new financial-services product.

    What else?

    One of the things we’re increasingly looking at today is supply chain, and how people are thinking about bringing a product to market efficiently and being nimble with their working capital, and what are the ways in which they can design a process and a system where they can have unique advantages? We’re constantly, as a team, working to understand where are the opportunity sets within this ecosystem, What are the points that are begging for innovation or ripe for opportunity, and can we partner with teams that are early to [address those opportunities] and have that be a unique wedge into the market? But [the investment] needs to be in the context of a bigger value proposition that’s important in the scheme of consumer trends, business trends, distribution, landscapes shifting, etc. The overall bigger picture has a longer view, and [there are] near-term opportunities for exploiting these wedges.

    Talk more about the bigger picture.

    I like this word because it fits: Empowerment. The consumer today has information, and they’re using it, and it’s leading them to make more thoughtful choices. It’s not just about getting xyz product, but it’s about: Who is the company behind that product? How are they manufacturing that product? How are they thinking about pricing and getting that product to me, what are the implications of that on the environment? At the end of the day, all these businesses are [working] in service of the consumer or the end user. The consumer is leading the charge, and if the consumer is anchored around values and things that matter, that’s good for business.

    What’s a good example of this?

    We spend a lot of time in this country talking about [how] healthcare is broken; one of the bright spots in that conversation is wellness. People willing to spend money on that, they’re investing in learning [about health] and that’s opening up a whole new category of products and services and priorities. Those are kind of new consumer buckets–or buckets that are being expanded in big ways. I think that’s true for experiences, too. People are reallocating dollars towards experiences and I think that there’s a lot of reason to believe that that will continue.

    Will you be doing some later-stage investments because of the size of the fund?

    What we really like about this fund size is that we can still do the earliest stages [of investment] and have a meaningful impact. We also think we can lead or participate in some later rounds. If I were to describe the sweet spot, I would say early stage, broadly defined: Seed, A, some B [rounds]. Before, with the fund a third of this size, it was harder to do.

    How do your successes affect the way you operate as a firm?

    Personally, I feel an increasing amount of opportunity and pressure at the same time. [When] we were new on the scene, we set goals on the kinds of company that we were going to back, the kind of partners we were going to be, and the areas where we could add value. I hope we’ve done a good job on delivering on those, and now those become our table stakes, and we need to keep looking for ways in which we can deliver on what people look for from us. And so I kind of use it as a motivation to keep challenging ourselves to be better.


    0 0

    If you’re unhappy about the way things seem to be going in Washington–or just like checking off things on that to-do list–why wait until November 6th to cast your ballot in the midterm elections?

    Plenty of states allow voters to cast their vote early. Each state’s requirements and process for early voting is a bit different, but the New York Times has an excellent rundown of the rules. As for if and when you can vote early, here’s a list of dates early voting begins in eligible states.

    September 20

    • Wisconsin

    September 21

    • Minnesota
    • South Dakota

    September 22

    • Maine
    • New Jersey
    • Vermont

    September 27

    • Wyoming
    • North Dakota

    October 7

    • California
    • Nebraska

    October 8

    • Iowa

    October 9

    • Montana

    October 10

    • Indiana
    • Ohio
    • Arizona

    October 15

    • Georgia

    October 17

    • Tennessee
    • North Carolina
    • Oregon

    October 19

    • Washington

    October 20

    • New Mexico
    • Nevada

    October 22

    • Alaska
    • Arkansas
    • District of Columbia
    • Idaho
    • Illinois
    • Massachusetts
    • Texas

    October 23

    • Hawaii
    • Louisiana
    • Utah

    October 24

    • West Virginia

    October 25

    • Maryland

    October 27

    • Florida

    October 30

    • Colorado
    • Kansas

    November 1

    • Oklahoma

    0 0

    Your coworkers may look busy, but if you’re not sure what they do all day, you’re not alone. According to the State of Work Report 2018 by the project management platform Workfront, 86% of us don’t have a clear sense of what our colleagues are working on.

    We also believe that we’re the most productive employees at work, ahead of those coworkers and company leadership. If we were asked to rate our coworkers like Uber drivers, we’d give them an average score of 3.7 stars out of five, according to the study. Not bad, but not stellar, either. Since it’s impossible for everyone to be the most productive employee, the confusion can lead to conflict.

    “Coworkers can be a particularly strong influence on employee satisfaction, especially when employees have to rely heavily on each other to complete their work,” says Kevin Cruz, assistant professor of management at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business. “Unfortunately, coworkers’ priorities and goals, which can be a result of the particular roles employees fill within their organizations, do not always align. This can cause a lot of frustration between coworkers.”

    Instead of getting frustrated, assume positive intent, says Colleen Kerr, senior career management consultant at the consulting firm Right Management. “Your coworker is likely not deliberately trying to annoy you,” she says.

    Here are the top three sources of frustration we have with our coworkers, and how you can resolve or reconsider your perspective to boost collaboration and productivity.

    1. Priorities

    The top source of trouble is conflicting priorities, with 57% of employees saying there’s a lack of alignment on strategic objectives.

    “Timelines and urgency aren’t commonly understood, and the information that managers and frontline team members need to meet their objectives isn’t readily available,” says Scott Lee, vice president of product marketing for Workfront. “All of this leads to conflict at the front line.”

    The way to reduce coworker frustration with conflicting priorities is to increase transparency around what’s most important to the organization,” says Laura Handrick, career analyst for the resource site FitSmallBusiness.com. “It starts with communicating the organizations’ vision, mission, and values,” she says. “Those drive how the organization behaves.”

    Different project leaders, such as those working in operations, HR, or IT, may have different priorities,” says Handrick. “Using collaborative and transparent online project management tools like Asana or Trello can help get everyone on the same page,” she suggests. “If all are required to use a similar tool for documenting priorities, then conflicting priorities are quickly discovered by management, and workers are no longer caught in the middle.”

    Team members should also create priority lists at the beginning of a new work cycle, adds John Paul Stephens, professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University. “What needs to be done when and why?” he asks. “Some degree of strategic planning is important for the most productive people and organizations. It’s also important for interdependent work, since you need to be able to articulate these needs and priorities to others.”

    2. Communication

    Fifty-six percent of workers have communication issues with coworkers, according to the survey. Lee says workplace communication tools are in transition, with old tools, like spreadsheets, emails, and meetings being used at the same time as new tools, such as digital workflow platforms. This can lead to trouble.

    “Gathering information, sharing insights, and updating team members is still a fairly analog, manual process,” he says. “How many times does conflict arise because one person or a team wasn’t aware another person or team was doing something?”

    Coworkers should get on the same page when it comes to the preferred method of communication, says Stephens. “Some people think a text message or email is enough, while others realize that you need to set up a face-to-face meeting or just go find the person at their desk,” he says. “People perceive a lack of timely communication because they may have different ideas of what matters and when it needs to be executed.”

    Frustration about a lack of communication can also be due to a gap in coworkers’ ability to express what they need, when they need it, and why it is so important, says Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist at the employee recognition firm Achievers. “It is critical to support individuals in being able to provide regular feedback to their manager and coworkers about how they are feeling about the communication on a team, and whether they’re being heard in the way they want to be,” she says.

    3. Urgency

    Finally, 47% of employees are frustrated when it comes to a lack of urgency. Whether in small or large groups, someone has to be the orchestra conductor keeping time for everyone else, says Stephens.

    “If we assume that individual humans typically tend to focus on their immediate, personal concerns, then it becomes easier to appreciate the need to have agreed-upon timelines, clear accountability criteria, and someone who tracks and updates the schedule,” he says. “Research has consistently shown that interdependent or collective rather than individual rewards are needed for effective teamwork. The sense of urgency ideally has to come from a sense of shared goals and accomplishments.”

    Lack of urgency can also be connected to communication problems, adds Kerr. “It could be that your coworker does not fully understand your deadlines and commitments,” she says. “Take the time to explain your timelines and the reason for the tight deadlines. We often assume that everyone understands our roles and responsibilities, yet that is not always the case.”


    0 0

    I’ve never looked at an invention that was so clearly the future and been so deeply repulsed.

    MobiLimb is a new research project led by the French engineering school Telecom Paristech. It’s a snap-on, USB robotic finger that could be compatible with most phones. Consisting of relatively simple motors, actuators, and sensors, its five segments can twist and flex like an actual appendage–like your phone has its own finger to touch you back.

    I can’t argue with its utility: The finger allows a phone to pull itself around (imagine saying “find my iPhone–and your iPhone crawls to you). It can serve as a (somewhat phallic) joystick. It can hold a pen to draw on paper. It can tilt itself up so the screen sits at the perfect angle to watch a movie. And, yes, it can slowly stroke your wrist when a totally platonic friend unwittingly sends you the wrong emoji.

    If its own, eerily human movements weren’t enough to haunt your dreams, researchers also developed a highly realistic, flesh-colored silicone cover for the robot, too. That’s right. The finger doesn’t just move like a finger. It also looks like a finger–a finger that can, say, caress your hand every time somebody hearts one of your Facebook posts.

    MobilLimb could change the reigning relationship most of us have with our phones today, in that it could imbue your smartphone–a piece of flat glass–with real, physical faculties. But that’s a relationship I, for one, am not ready to pursue just yet. Even if the project is soon to go open source for anyone *shivers* to duplicate on their own.


    0 0

    Whether you took the summer off to travel, or a few years off to start the company of your dreams, pursuing your passion can inspire new ideas and personal growth. But how do you successfully re-enter the traditional workforce after your passion-fueled sabbatical?

    In a recent University of Phoenix survey, nearly 2 in 3 (64%) of employed U.S. adults agreed that life experience, particularly pursuing things they are passionate about (e.g., having and/or raising a child, traveling, nontraditional jobs, volunteer work) is valued just as much as work experience at their workplace. Positioning that value into securing a new job can be a challenge, but it can be done. Here are six strategies to use when you are interviewing.

    Know how to speak about your passion project

    Avoid downplaying the experience you had while away from the traditional workforce. If you cannot professionally articulate what impact your time away from the office has had on your experience and skills, you won’t be able to show your future employer why your passion project–whether it was traveling, volunteering, or starting your own business–was a positive thing. Practice speaking about your experience in an inspiring and engaging way that makes it relevant to your career move.

    Take classes to supplement your experience

    To ensure that your industry knowledge and experience are current as you head into interviews, think about taking a class. Whether it is becoming certified in a particular area or even starting the process of earning an advanced degree, there are numerous curriculum options in fields like healthcare, IT, and business, and you can schedule your classes around your new professional schedule.


    Related: These are the five “super skills” you need for the jobs of the future


    Identify your transferable skills

    Skills like time management, problem solving, communication, or even a new language may be things you mastered during your time away from the office. Don’t undercut these new abilities. Put them onto your resume with confidence.

    Audit your passion project

    Ask yourself what you specifically love about your passion project and find a career field that utilizes those skills. That travel blog you started while backpacking in South America for the year would make an excellent portfolio for a future media job. The fundraising and canvassing you did for while volunteering for a political campaign sets you up for a great career in sales. Take a look at the skill set for the job you’d like to land, and see how you might parlay what you learned during your time away.


    Related:Unsure how your career impacts your kids? Here’s some perspective


    Have an end goal in mind

    Don’t get too caught up in the short term–have a bigger picture in mind. Your resume is a living, breathing document, and a year or two of exploring your passions isn’t going to be the only experience on it. What do you want to achieve before you retire? And does your passion project play into reaching that ultimate goal? Write down where you see yourself to help get a clear vision. Then work toward it with patience and persistence.

    Embrace your unique path

    More people are forgoing the traditional career path, whether it means pursuing higher education later in life, switching gears to a new career field, or taking time away from the workforce. No matter how unconventional your path, it is what makes you unique. Embrace it and be proud to tell your story.

    The power is ultimately in your hands. Your experience–whether it is traditional or not–is valuable, and the skills and insights you have from your passion project are transferable. Have confidence when reentering the workforce and remember to bring your passion with you into your new job.


    Angie Williams, EdD, serves as the dean of multicultural affairs and diversity at the University of Phoenix. Williams has served in the educational arena for over 17 years in various roles that stretch from the classroom to the U.S. Department of Justice. She has conducted specific research on nontraditional student success, persistence, and student satisfaction.


    0 0

    To have the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, the world needs to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius–and to do that, society needs to completely transform over the next three decades, according to a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Global CO2 emissions may need to peak around 2020. By midcentury, we have to reach net zero emissions.

    The report explains why it’s so important that we meet the 1.5 degree target, and how difficult that will be to accomplish. The changes required, from energy to agriculture, are “unprecedented in terms of scale,” the group writes in a summary for policymakers. And right now, we’re not anywhere close to the path to make it happen.

    “The reality is that we’re very off track from where we need to be,” says Rachel Cleetus, policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, who was not involved with the new report. If our current emissions rates hold, we’ll reach 1.5 degrees C of warming by 2030.

    If every country fulfills the pledges it made for the Paris agreement in 2015, the world may still warm 2.6 to 3.2 degrees C by the end of the century, by some estimates. The Paris agreement committed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, and pursue the even harder goal to limit it to 1.5 degrees. The new report explains why going that far is critical, based on a summary of recent research that shows that the impacts at 2 degrees are much worse than previously understood.

    [Photo: Matt Hardy/Unsplash]

    “There are material differences between 1.5 C and 2 C,” says Cleetus. “This points out that every fraction of a degree really does matter.”

    By the end of the century, if warming stops at 1.5 degrees, the sea level rise may be nearly four inches lower than if it stops at 2 degrees. That slower rate of rising water would mean that people living in island nations and along coastlines would have more time to adapt. As many as 10 million fewer people would be exposed to risks like flooding.

    At 1.5 degrees of warming instead of 2 degrees, there would be a lower risk of extreme hot days that can lead to deaths. “We know that the risk of extreme heat has already gone up as a result of the 1 degree of global warming that’s already happened,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, a geoscientist and senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute. “So we can expect further increases in that risk at 1.5 degrees. But the increase is substantially curbed at 1.5 compared with the 2-degree target.”

    Areas like sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean would still suffer from droughts, but farms would be able to grow more food than they could with 2 degrees of warming. The proportion of people around the world exposed to water stress could be cut in half. The risk to fisheries would be lower. Coral reefs would have a chance to survive. A huge percentage of reefs, from 70-90%, could still be lost with 1.5 degrees of warming. But if warming stops at 2 degrees, more than 99% of reefs could disappear. At 1.5 degrees, fewer species would go extinct. Fewer ecosystems would be irreversibly lost.

    Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would also give the world a better chance of avoiding major tipping points like the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It could prevent as many as 2.5 million square kilometers of permafrost from melting over the long term.

    The transition necessary to meet the 1.5-degree target is almost unimaginably huge, and will require large investments. But Diffenbaugh’s research has found that, relative to the eventual economic damage of not acting aggressively enough to protect the planet in the future, it would cost much less to make changes now. “It’s potentially trillions of dollars in economic benefits from avoiding damages,” he says. One recent report calculated the benefits at $26 trillion.

    The world needs to make decisions now for the future. Trillions of dollars will soon be invested in new infrastructure; if we make the wrong choices, they’ll be locked in, according to the same recent report. We need to make to make major changes in transportation, buildings, industry, and how we use land. We also will need to rely on carbon removal–whether that’s as low-tech as planting trees or using new technology like direct air capture that can suck CO2 from the atmosphere. The longer we wait to act, the IPCC report says, the more we’ll have to use this type of technology, which has never been proven at a large scale.

    Another recent report from the consulting firm PwC makes it clear that even limiting warming to 2 degrees C will be a stretch: “There seems to be almost zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees (the main goal of the Paris Agreement), though widespread use of carbon capture and storage technologies, including Natural Climate Solutions, may make this possible,” it says. “Each year that the global economy fails to decarbonize at the required rate, the two-degree goal becomes more difficult to achieve.”

    Still, Cleetus says that we have most of the technology we need to make the change. “We have a lot of the solutions available to us today,” she says. “There’s certainly things that we’ll need to invest in more to develop the next generation of solutions. But I would say the biggest obstacle really is political will.”

    When governments made pledges for the Paris agreement, they knew those pledges would have to get much more ambitious–and the time for that to happen is now. When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is designed to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster.

    The risk that we miss the 1.5-degree target is very real. But it’s still possible that it can be achieved. The beginnings of change are underway, from plans to ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in countries like France and India to corporations shifting to 100% renewable electricity. In the U.S., after Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, cities, states and businesses will need to step up even more than they already have to ensure a chance of meeting the goal. Changes in individual behavior–such as eating less meat and driving less–also matter.

    “We have to step up and show the global community that we’re still going to live out to the goals of the Paris agreement and we understand that it’s in our best interest to do so,” says Cleetus. “We have an election coming up on November 6th. Folks should factor climate change into how they vote. Climate action matters, and our policymakers need to hear that. We will hold them accountable on this issue.”


    0 0

    Poke fun at goat yoga all you want, but don’t underestimate the booming wellness industry.

    The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) said this weekend that the wellness market, which encompasses everything from boutique fitness gyms to day spas, is now valued at a whopping $4.2 trillion, having grown 12.8% in the last two years. The industry now represents 5.3% of global economic output.

    “As people incorporate more of the wellness values into their lifestyle, our interaction with the wellness economy is also becoming less episodic and more intentional, more integrative, and more holistic,” GWI senior research fellow Ophelia Yeung said during a presentation Saturday at the Global Wellness Summit held in Cesena, Italy. “In the last few years, wellness has become a dominant lifestyle value that is profoundly changing consumer behavior and changing the markets.”

    [Image: courtesy of Global Wellness Institute]
    Wellness, defined broadly as the active pursuit of activities that promote physical and mental well-being, has become a nebulous term that incorporates a wide range of industries. In an effort to better establish its parameters, GWI focused on 10 specific categories that enable consumers to incorporate it in their lives:

    • Personal care and beauty: $1.082 trillion
    • Healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss: $702.1 billion
    • Wellness tourism: $639.4 billion
    • Fitness / mind-body: $595.4 billion
    • Preventive and personalized medicine and public health: $574.8 billion
    • Traditional and complementary medicine: $359.7 billion
    • Wellness real estate: $134.3 billion
    • Spa economy: $118.8 billion
    • Thermal / mineral springs: $56.2 billion
    • Workplace wellness: $47.5 billion

    Spas, tourism, and real estate were shown to be the fastest-growing sectors in the last two years. Wellness real estate, as Fast Company previously reported, influenced the U.S. market in the last few years, with developers increasingly investing in neighborhoods and properties dedicated to holistic health. According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, there are more than 740 wellness estate and community developments either built or in the works across 34 countries. It’s projected to grow 8% in the next five years, reaching over $197 billion by 2022.

    The spa economy also saw a dramatic increase as more consumers find themselves drawn to self-care oases in the wake of hectic, over-connected lifestyles. Since 2007, the number of spas doubled from 71,000 to 149,000, producing 2.6 million employment opportunities in the global spa industry. The thermal/mineral springs market, much like the lucrative bath economy, also grows stronger as women turn to warm water for stress relief.

    Ophelia Yeung [Photo: courtesy of Global Wellness Institute]
    But as Yeung explained, these sectors increasingly tend to blend together. That means fitness is no longer solely relegated to your gym membership–it’s now potentially integrated into your vacations or wearables, even your beauty routine. (Yes, “athleisure makeup” exists.) Everything is merging as companies capitalize on wellness, making it harder to separate markets into individual buckets.

    “A fitness company now is competing with different brands in the hospitality sector–that’s not something we were seeing just five years ago,” explained Yeung. “We’re going to see more and more wellness creeping into what we think is generic type of spending.”

    Last week, Equinox announced fitness and wellness getaways in a bid to woo Americans looking to “reset” during their (limited) time off. It joins other recent hospitality hybrids: Westin Hotels partnered with Peloton, Fairmont with Reebok and Technogym, while Hyatt acquired boutique fitness and wellness brand Exhale.

    In 2017, travelers took 830 million wellness trips–139 million more than in 2015. As one of the fastest-growing travel trends, wellness travel currently represents 17% of total tourism expenditures.

    [Image: courtesy of Global Wellness Institute]
    Workplace wellness ($47.5 billion), meanwhile, remains small in comparison to the financial burdens and losses created by unhealthy, overstressed employees. GWI reports that only 9.8% of the world’s 3 billion-plus workforce has access to a workplace wellness program. Such programs remain essential to combat chronic diseases, which affect half of all Americans yet are often preventable.

    “In the face of longer lifespans, and rising chronic disease, stress and unhappiness, we only see growth for wellness ahead,” said Yeung in a press statement. “We believe that the three sectors that represent the core spheres of life will see the strongest future growth–wellness real estate, workplace wellness and wellness tourism–while other sectors will also grow as they support the integration of wellness into all aspects of daily life. And wellness markets will become less siloed and more interconnected, converging to offer solutions and experiences in the places where people live, work and travel.”

    Beyond the Goop set

    Wellness, in its many mutable forms, is often viewed as a luxury commodity, mostly accessible to the wealthy or avid Goop readers. During the three-day Global Wellness Summit, 650 industry leaders, government representatives, and entrepreneurs addressed not only the issues surrounding exclusivity, but solutions on how to utilize wellness for the masses. How can companies and public health officials ensure health practices reach lower income communities? Can wellness better address chronic health issues and fill in the gaps left by traditional healthcare? How can we utilize technology to better serve our physical and mental well-being?

    Such pressing issues loom in the face of dismal statistics: Healthcare costs are rising faster than GDP in most developed countries, and the World Health Organization predicts a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030. Most non-communicable diseases, however, are preventable through proper nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

    The wellness economy is more than half the size of all global health spending, which was last estimated at $7.3 trillion. (The United States currently spends more than other developed countries on healthcare, but somehow has poorer outcomes.)

    While certain aspects of wellness, such as fitness, have become more affordable and accessible (like, say, $10 gym memberships and class apps), the GWI team finds the incremental shift from private to public health the most promising. As wellness grows in popularity, it seeps into the public consciousness, and eventually (or rather, hopefully), public policy. It’s not the medical side where wellness industries could prove themselves most useful, rather it’s the preventative side.

    As Yeung stressed, “We’re a getting to the point where the whole wellness economy–the economy part–has to start engaging with the public part.”


    0 0

    Millennials grew up drizzling extra virgin olive oil on everything: Their salads, their pasta, their pan-fried salmon.

    It all began in mid-’90s when today’s twenty- and thirtysomethings were in middle school. Their parents began spotting high-end bottles of olive oil in specialty food stores, which quickly led to more reasonably priced versions in their neighborhood grocer. All of this excitement around what’s been called the Mediterranean’s liquid gold led to a 73% spike in olive oil sales between 1992 and 1997.

    But these days, much of that excitement has fizzled out. Olive oil is now a fixture in most kitchens. And the bottles themselves often look fairly generic, with old-fashioned labels covered in logos and technical details about the oil inside. The most common ones in the grocery store, like Bertolli and Pompeian, have labels that look identical to one another. And every grocer, from Walmart to Stop&Shop, has its own brand designed to blend into the rest of the products on the shelves. Some research suggests that many of these brands sell products that are rancid, adulterated with cheaper oils, or contain impurities.

    [Photo: Brightland]

    Brightland appears like a ray of sunshine compared to traditional olive oil brands. The new company was founded by Aishwarya Iyer, who has spent her career working at startups. She  partnered with a family-owned California farm that harvests the olives early and mills the oil on-site to create top-grade, highly fragrant extra virgin olive oil at $37 a bottle.

    “Most of us don’t feel attached to any particular brand of olive oil,” she says. “I thought that was so odd because olive oil is such a big part of our lives. We use it every day, on so much of what we eat.”

    Iyer wanted the bottles to look attractive enough that people would want to display them in their kitchens, rather than hiding them away in the pantry. The powder-coated bottles are designed by the Charleston-based graphic design firm Stitch Design, and the labels feature little pops of color in the form of floating shapes: One flavor, Awake, contains pinks and oranges; another, Alive, features blues and golds.

    Right now, the bottles are available through Brightland’s website, but Iyer is beginning to partner with artsy speciality stores, like Brooklyn-based gift shop Regular Visitors. The investment in design appears to be paying off, based on customers sharing artful photos of their bottles on Instagram and sending bottles to friends as gifts. “It makes me so happy that people think of giving these as gifts,” says Iyer. “I’d never thought of giving olive oil as a present before, but I’ve noticed that people are gifting them as hostess gifts or housewarming presents because they think the bottles are so beautiful.”

    But while Iyer paid a lot of attention to the design of the bottles, she was driven to launch Brightland because she’d learned about how poorly made some olive oil really is. Several years ago, Iyer felt queasy after a dinner that had been drizzled with plenty of olive oil. She ended up going down a rabbit hole, learning about how most olive oil brands aren’t being honest about what’s inside their bottles.

    Back in 2010, UC Davis published two widely reported studies showing that olive oil brands are effectively selling fake products. The university found that 69% of extra virgin olive oils in the United States are adulterated with cheaper oils (like canola and palm oil), oxidized, and low quality. Some of the most popular brands on the market–Bertolli, Newman’s Own, Whole Foods, Safeway, Pompeian, Star, Colavita–all failed tests. (Brands that passed include California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, and Lucini.)

    [Photo: Brightland]

    When you learn about what is inside impure olive oil, you may never want to use the stuff ever again. For instance, some olive oil tastes grubby because it is likely contaminated with larvae. Olive flies sometimes lay eggs in young olives, which are then processed into the oil later. Olives oil can also become moldy when olives have been crushed with mud. And rancid olive oil is the result of oil being exposed to light, heat, or air during the storage process.

    From taking classes on olive oil to finding a farm that could produce pure products, process was a focus–yet Iyer doesn’t want Brightland’s branding to overwhelm customers with too many details unless they happen to be curious. There’s a section on the website where customers can click to learn more or dig into the studies, but she’s not emphasizing this in her marketing–the younger customers she’s aiming at tend to be educated consumers, she explains: “We’re used to researching products before we buy them.”

    Instead, Iyer wants to lead with taste and beauty. Brightland sells two varieties of olive oil with two simple descriptors, Alive and Awake, that come with tasting notes akin to what you might find with wine. Alive is smooth and nutty, with hints of green tomato and green almond. Iyer recommends using it in dressings and marinades, baked goods, hummus, and, even even drizzled on sorbet and chocolate. (It’s made from Arbosana and Arbequina olives.) Meanwhile Awake has a more complex flavor, with grassy notes that remind you of artichokes and herbs. The strong flavor works particularly well with heartier foods, like soups and stews, baked potatoes, roast chicken, fried eggs, and even just warm bread. (This one only contains Arbequina olives.) The company’s website even has a “Field Notes” section where Iyer offers recipes that feature her oils, including olive oil cakes and cocktails.

    “There’s a lot of art and science that goes into really well-made artisanal olive oil,” says Iyer. “But it can be really intimidating when you first learn about it: I certainly found it confusing. I thought giving each flavor a name and tasting notes was a fun way to provide the customer with a roadmap.”


    0 0

    The rumors are true: Facebook is getting into consumer electronics with a new gadget called Portal.

    The tabletop touch screen lets users chat with Facebook friends through a built-in camera and offers hands-free voice controls. Users can also listen to music and video together in services like Spotify and Facebook Watch, and can narrate “interactive stories” for children. In addition to video chat, Portal can display Facebook photos, and can tap into Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant for even more voice commands. A 10-inch version costs $199, while the 15-inch Portal+ costs $349. Both are available for preorder today and will ship in November.

    The idea that users might be creeped out by such a device is not lost on Facebook, which claims that Portal is “private by design.” While the built-in camera can track users around the room, Facebook says the camera does not use face recognition, and the AI that handles the tracking lives on the device instead of on Facebook’s servers. Users also have two ways to cut off the camera: A button on the device “physically disconnects the camera and microphone,” which can’t be re-enabled through software alone, and a separate cover lets users block the camera lens itself. Facebook also says it does not keep or listen to the content of video calls, which are encrypted.

    Despite those assurances, potential buyers will have plenty of reasons to treat a Facebook-powered smart speaker and camera with skepticism. The company recently disclosed a major security breach that left at least 50 million accounts vulnerable to a complete takeover, and earlier this year we learned about how political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest account data on up to 87 million users.

    Perhaps more importantly, Facebook has a history of misleading users on what it’s doing with their data. A recent report by Gizmodo found that Facebook was targeting users with ads based on contact information gathered from friends’ address books. (Facebook previously denied that it was doing this.) Facebook also confirmed that when a user sets up two-factor authentication with a phone number, the company uses that number for targeted ads. (The only way to avoid this targeting is to use a different authentication method.)

    In the end, Facebook’s specific privacy claims about Portal may not be enough to offset the general sense of distrust that the company has engendered over the years. We’ll have to wait and see.


    0 0

    Most of us know and value pleasant experiences. We savor the taste of a freshly picked strawberry. We laugh more than an event warrants, just because laughing feels good. We might argue about the degree to which such pleasant experiences are valuable, and the extent to which they ought to shape our lives, but we can’t deny their value.

    So pleasant experiences are necessarily valuable, but are there also valuable experiences that are not necessarily pleasant? It seems there are. Often, we have experiences that captivate us, that we cherish even though they are not entirely pleasant. We read a novel that leads us to feel both horror and awe. We binge-watch a TV show that explores the shocking course of moral corruption of someone who could be your neighbor, friend, even your spouse. The experience is both painful and horrifying, but we can’t turn it off.

    These experiences seem intuitively valuable in the same way that pleasant experiences are intuitively valuable. But they are not valuable because they are pleasant–rather, they are valuable by virtue of being interesting.

    What does it mean for an experience to be interesting? First, to say that something is interesting is to describe what the experience feels like to the person undergoing it. This is the phenomenological quality of the experience. When we study the phenomenology of something, we examine what it feels like, from the inside, to experience that thing. For instance, most of us would describe eating our favorite foods as a pleasurable experience: The food itself isn’t pleasurable, but the experience of eating it is. Similarly, when we talk about something being beautiful or awe-inspiring, we aren’t describing the thing itself, but rather our experience of it. We see the sunset and feel moved by it; the beauty is something we experience. Likewise, the awe it inspires is a feature of our experiential reaction to it. The interesting is just like this. It is a feature of our experiential reaction, of our engagement.

    We don’t always use the word “interesting” in this way. In ordinary language, we often describe the objects of experience as interesting. We talk about interesting books, interesting people, and so on. When we say that a book is interesting, we more likely mean that the experience of reading the book is interesting. It just doesn’t make sense to describe a book to be objectively interesting, independently of people experiencing it as interesting. How could a book be interesting without being read? And if a book is objectively interesting, shouldn’t we all find it interesting? We don’t all find the same things to be interesting. It is a common experience for something to be interesting to one person, yet not another. So while we might describe objects as interesting, we should recognize that this is a loose, and shorthand, way to describe what’s really interesting–our experience of them.

    Another way in which we use the word “interesting” is in the context of describing what a person is interested in: John is interested in World War II novels, for example. This usage also differs from what I’m describing as the “interesting.” It describes a particular fit between one’s interests and the objects of one’s experiences. But notice that fitting with your interests, and being interested in something, is actually a different experience to finding something interesting. We’ve all been interested in things that turn out to be boring, and we’ve all found experiences interesting when we had no prior interest in them. The interesting is thus not an objective feature of an object, nor an experience that necessarily aligns or follows from your interests. It is rather a feature of our experiences.

    To say that something is interesting is also to describe a particular kind of synthesis that arises within the experience. Whenever we engage in an activity, we bring to that experience some combination of expectations, likes/desires, beliefs, curiosity, and so forth. This package contributes to the activity delivering a particular subjective experience. There is a synthesis, specific to the individual’s engagement, that determines what her experience feels like–its phenomenological quality. It is within this synthesis that a person finds an experience interesting, or not. There is no one synthesis that makes an experience interesting. Sometimes, a clash of expectations and reality makes something interesting, sometimes someone’s curiosity allows one to notice features that make an activity interesting, and so on. Because the interesting lies within a synthesis between the individual and an activity, one individual can find something interesting (say, reading philosophy) that another person doesn’t.

    The synthesis is complex, unique to the subject and the experience–and, in the end, unspecifiable. This is why we tend to overlook the interesting as a valuable feature of our experiences. Pleasure, by contrast, is a fairly uniform feature of experience. We know exactly what others are talking about when they talk about pleasurable experiences, and can relate to that experience in a personal way–even if it is something that we have not experienced as pleasurable. Our reactions to the experiences that others find interesting are often different. John finds reading World War II novels to be an ongoing source of interest, yet Julia can’t imagine a more boring way of spending her time, and can’t understand how anyone would find them interesting. In such scenarios, we are more likely to discredit the value of John’s experience than to try to understand and appreciate it. Because the interesting is by nature a more complicated, harder-to-reach, harder-to-describe feature than others, we rarely stop to think about just what the interesting is.

    While wrapping our head around the interesting might be challenging, it is important to acknowledge the value intrinsic to interesting experiences. Recognizing it as valuable validates those who choose to pursue the interesting, and also opens up a new dimension of value that can enrich our lives. Most of us know there is more to life than pleasure, yet it is all too easy to choose our experiences for the sake of pleasure. For many of us, though, interesting experiences are more rewarding than pleasurable experiences, insofar as their intrinsic value is a product of multifaceted aspects of our engagement. Interesting experiences spark the mind in a way that stimulates and lingers. They can also be easy to come by–sometimes just a sense of curiosity is needed to make an activity interesting. Look around, feel the pull, and cherish the interesting.


    This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.


    0 0

    If you’re a voter in Georgia, you may want to double check that you are still registered to vote. According to a recent report, there is a 1 in 10 chance that a voter in the state was purged from the voting rolls at some point in 2017, thanks to Georgia’s former Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who is now running for governor.

    Journalist Greg Palast has been investigating The Purge since 2014, but was stonewalled by the politicians until he threatened them with a federal lawsuit. Mere hours before the deadline for the lawsuit, his team got a list of the purged names, and it included many, many Georgia voters.

    As Salon reports, Palast discovered that, under Kemp, the Georgia State Department “identified people as having moved out of state” or “moved out of congressional district,” and “should either be removed or forced to reregister.” However, according to Palast, Kemp’s team was overzealous and purged voters who were still in state, in the same district, and in one case, had simply moved from one side of a building to the other.

    Luckily, Georgia voters still have time to find out if they are registered to vote, but they have to act very quickly. Palast has set up a website where voters can find out if they were part of The Purge. If so, they can re-register here. However, this must be done by Tuesday or would-be voters will miss their chance to vote in the mid-terms.


    0 0

    Writing a resume can be a lot of work. Not only do you have to condense the entirety of your career and knowledge into just one page of paper–you have to customize it for the position and company you’re applying to, proofread it, and revise it until it’s perfect (your resume is, after all, the most important document of your job search). All of this can add up to a significant amount of time, and seriously slow down your job search.

    While there are no shortcuts to a great resume, there are a few pieces of “common knowledge” based largely on outdated truths or misconceptions that you can throw out the window, thus saving yourself valuable time. Thankfully, Glassdoor & Grammarly’s Ultimate Guide to Resumes is here to help you work smarter, not harder. If you want a stellar resume, but don’t want to waste time with unnecessary tweaks, read on.

    Bad tip #1: include an objective statement

    You might have been told early on in your career that all resumes should contain an objective statement: a brief sentence that explains what your goal is (such as “To secure a marketing internship”). But over the years, objective statements have largely fallen out of favor. Why? Well, for one, they’re pretty redundant. If you’re submitting an application for a marketing intern position, of course your goal would be to secure a marketing internship–stating that on your resume is just a waste of space.

    But for another reason, objective statements are very self-serving. When skimming through resumes, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for what they want, not what you want. That’s not to say they don’t care at all about what candidates are looking for–this will be top-of-mind once they’re ready to extend an offer–but before they can begin to think about meeting your wants and needs, they need to first determine that you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role.

    Instead of an objective, include a professional summary: “a brief, one- to three-sentence section featured prominently on your resume that succinctly describes who you are, what you do and why you’re perfect for the job,” the guide recommends. For a particularly compelling professional summary, avoid generic descriptors like “hard-working” and “self-motivated,” and cite concrete metrics that demonstrate your impact. If you’ve worked for a particularly impressive company, you might also want to name-drop them.

    In the end, your professional summary might look something like this: “ROI-driven marketing professional who is equal parts creative and analytical. Experienced in Marketo, Google Analytics, and driving 27 percent year-over-year traffic growth.”

    Bad tip #2: Make your resume a work of modern art

    You might have seen some resume templates on Etsy or Pinterest that look like they could hang on the walls of a museum, but unless you’re applying to a design position, they probably won’t get you very far. In general, recruiters and hiring managers care far more about substance than flash. After all, it’s the content of your resume that’s going to demonstrate whether or not you’re the right fit for the role, not the design.

    The visual aspect of your resume isn’t completely unimportant, though. While you don’t want to go overboard with creating a complex design, you do want to make sure that your resume is clean and easy to read. A few tips:

    • Choose a simple font
    • Add sufficient space in the margins and in between your different sections
    • Avoid cramming too much information into one space
    • If you want to add a touch of creative flair, incorporate some color into the theme–avoid anything too visually busy like patterns or images

    Need some inspiration? Check out these free templates.

    Bad tip #3: pad your resume with unnecessary extras

    If you’ve ever come up short when writing an essay with a strict word count, you know how tempting it can be to fill it out with fluff–suddenly, phrases like “My name is Emily” become “The given name that my mother and father chose to bestow upon me as an infant was Emily.”

    Some people feel tempted to do the same in their resumes. But rather than dragging out sentences for as long as possible, they add unnecessary, unimpressive, or exaggerated skills and experiences.

    “Only include the skills that truly make an impact–not ones that are basic requirements (Microsoft Word, email) or irrelevant to the job you’re applying to,” Glassdoor’s guide recommends. Similarly, don’t feel like you have to include every job you’ve ever held in your work experiences section, especially if you’ve had a particularly long and illustrious career, or if you’ve switched industries entirely. Instead, narrow in on the requirements that are specifically called out in the job description.

    Remember: Recruiters only spend about six to seven seconds reading resumes, so by trimming the fat, you’ll make sure they see only the most important content, making you that much more likely to move on to the next round.


    This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 


    0 0

    When founders are actively fundraising, investors are usually the ones asking dozens—if not hundreds—of questions. But it’s not just founders who are selling themselves; venture capitalists, too, need to make a case for why an entrepreneur should trust them or give them a cut of their business.

    To ensure their relationship with investors is a partnership, it’s important that founders pose the right questions—and not just while negotiating the term sheet. Here are some of the things VCs think founders should be asking while courting investors.

    What do you think of my pitch?

    “It’s rare that founders actually ask this simple question in a pitch meeting: ‘So what do you think of my idea?'” says JJ Kasper, a partner at Blue Collective. “I get why it doesn’t get asked all that often. It can be a bit awkward to ask this as a founder and a bit awkward to answer as an investor—sort of like going on a first date and, as you drop the person off at his or her door, asking, ‘How would you rate your levels of affection and attraction to me now?'”

    But Kasper believes that discomfort is why the question can be valuable, even if it puts investors in a position where they’re offering a snap judgment. “It shows a directness and practicality on the part of the founder that is the key to sales, hiring, and any other human interaction,” he says. “And it forces me, as an investor, to give you a point of view—sometimes a quick ‘no,’ and sometimes encouraging excitement.”

    How does this work?

    Even scheduling investor meetings can be time consuming, let alone securing funding. One thing founders should get clarity on early into a potential partnership is how the investment process works. When does a fund decide whether or not to invest in your company? When do they issue a term sheet?

    “We’re not like Shark Tank where, at the end of the meeting, we’re deciding to invest in a company or not,” says Alex Nwaka, a senior associate at Touchdown Ventures. “It’s a decision made over time, and there’s a process in which we get to that decision. Nwaka says it is “critical” that founders get enough information on the process—how long it will take, what each phase will entail—in the first meeting.

    Who are your references?

    Jocelyn Kinsey, a principal at DFJ Growth, says entrepreneurs should ask certain tactical questions, such as, “Where are you in the life cycle of your fund?” That kind of information helps give a sense of how soon the fund may expect a return on its investment. But one of the key things to request is references, so you can hear from portfolio companies that have worked with the investors—for better or for worse.

    “It’s a two-sided relationship between VC and founder,” Kinsey continues. “You need to do due diligence and ask for portfolio company references from founders that have been successful, and from others that have been through tough times.”

    How do you deal with a failing startup?

    People on both sides of the table tend to focus on the success stories, so it can be especially useful to hear from the companies that have sputtered out. Cheryl Cheng, a general partner at BlueRun Ventures, believes that bringing up “the f word” is critical. “Founders are inherently optimistic people, but it is important for founders to know how investors deal with companies that are failing or have failed,” Cheng says.

    In truth, about 70% of startups reportedly fail. “I wish founders would ask about how VCs have dealt with those situations,” Cheng says. “It’s common to talk about the successes in a portfolio and try to re-create that success. However, the dark and hard times are really telling.”

    Can you play devil’s advocate?

    The people intimately involved with a business are usually the ones who know most about it. While investors can be a good sounding board, founders should also request the right kind of feedback. “Too often, founders ask affirmative, validating questions that tend to ‘lead the witness,’ such as, ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘Aren’t we doing great?'” says Nan Li, a managing director at Obvious Ventures.

    Li thinks entrepreneurs can set themselves up for more objective answers by asking questions like, “Can you be a devils’ advocate?” or “Can you connect me with someone that might give me a different point of view?”

    “Investors are good at offering perspective, but questions from founders that aren’t biased will lead to answers that aren’t confirmatory statements,” Li says.


    0 0

    The amount of time people spend on Facebook is declining, according to a new report from Pivotal Research Group. The firm analyzed data on digital content consumption from Nielsen for August 2018 and found that while digital content consumption is up 15% year-over-year generally speaking, Facebook’s particular share is dropping.

    According to Pivotal’s research, Facebook—including Messenger and its related companies Instagram and WhatsApp—was down 3%, accounting for 14.3% of all digital consumption in August 2018, compared with 16.9% in August 2017 and 18.5% in August 2016.

    It’s not that the number of Facebook users was dropping (in fact, they were up 7.2%), but average time per person spent browsing the site was down 6.7%, for an aggregate decline in usage of 13%.

    While Pivotal isn’t willing to go so far as to definitely say that the decline in Facebook use is due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the recent data breach, and other concerns around data privacy, it is hard to ignore the timing of the decline.

    Politics fatigue could also be playing a role. While Facebook activity was likely higher around the 2016 election and its aftermath, many Facebook users may simply be getting tired of that Trump-voting uncle who won’t shut up about Hillary—and Facebook itself has been deleting pages aimed at stirring up trouble.

    Pivotal’s research backs up previous studies that showed that young people are leaving the site, and more people are taking a break from Facebook.

    Even with Facebook’s pinky-swear promise to be more careful with data, users may not be as trusting of the social media site.

    The bright side for Facebook, though, is that people are still intentionally naive when it comes to Facebook’s ownership of Instagram. The photo-sharing site experienced 16.5% user growth and a whopping 43% gain in time spent on the platform.


    0 0

    The software giant has confirmed that it will invest in ride-hailing firm Grab, CNBC reports. However, Microsoft has not revealed just how much money it is putting into the company. This year alone Grab has already raised $2 billion, and after the Microsoft news broke, Grab president Ming Maa said the company is on track to raise $3 billion in all of 2018, suggesting Microsoft is investing a tidy sum (though likely not the entirety of the remaining billion). Some estimates place Microsoft’s investment at around $200 million.

    Microsoft’s investment in Grab will see the company use Microsoft tech to improve user safety and experience. Specifically, Grab will work with Microsoft to develop new ways to verify drivers and passengers using artificial intelligence and facial recognition.“Where Microsoft fits into this is all of the AI/machine learning platforms that Microsoft has developed will allow us to build these services,” Maa said.


    0 0

    Richard Branson has told CNBC that Virgin Galactic will begin making space flights in the next several months. Virgin Galactic is Branson’s commercial spaceflight company that aims to begin taking paying customers to outer space. Branson founded Virgin Galactic back in 2004 and had previously said that he would initially go into space himself by April of this year–a deadline he missed.

    But now, Branson says, “We should be in space within weeks, not months. And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years. We will be in space with people not too long after that, so we have got a very, very exciting couple of months ahead.”

    Virgin Galactic’s first paying customers will see a hefty ticket price, however. Right now the price of a Virgin Galactic ticket is almost $250,000–and it won’t be dropping anytime soon. Yet Branson says he hopes to get ticket prices down to below $50,000 in a decade’s time. If that still sounds like a lot, it’s actually chump change in the bigger picture of space flight. Bank of America Merrill Lynch says the sector will be worth $2.7 trillion over the next 30 years.


    0 0

    The internet is a system that demands more: more engagement, more clicks, more ads, more content, more code, more servers, and more devices. The size of a typical web page has increased exponentially in recent years. Thirty-nine percent of young Americans report they are online “almost constantly.” Today almost 20% of American households contain more than 10 internet-connected devices, which have their own associated energy costs. By 2025, the internet will account for 20% of the energy consumed on the planet.

    Last month, Low-Tech Magazine quietly published a completely redesigned site for its technology- and energy-focused journalism that looks radical by comparison. The premise is simple: Less.

    [Screenshot: Low←Tech Magazine]

    Unlike millions of other dynamic sites on the internet today that retrieve each piece of content from a database any time someone visits, Low-Tech’s solar-powered site is simply static documents stored on a single, self-hosted server.

    That server is powered by a small photovoltaic array on founder Kris De Decker’s balcony in Barcelona, which keeps the site online when it’s sunny. If it’s cloudy for more than a day or two, Low-Tech goes offline. A battery icon on each article shows how much juice the server has left and the forecast (sunny and 83%, at the moment).

    [Screenshot: Low←Tech Magazine]
    There are no ads or pop-up dialogs, and images are compressed to a bare minimum. The logo is a unicode symbol and the typeface is your browser default, which means your computer doesn’t have to query a server. All in all, the average page size is five times smaller than the old site.

    It’s a radical departure from the digital design of today, where more videos and dynamic features have made web pages heavier and heavier. But the new site isn’t a Ludditical argument for the return of 1990s-era internet. It’s more like a reminder that our internet has weight–and everyone, from developers and designers to writers and readers–contributes to it.

    “We used to [only] be online when we were at a desktop computer with an internet connection,” De Decker says. “But now this limitation is gone, so we’re online from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep.”

    Have you ever thought about how much energy it takes to refresh your Instagram while you’re lying in bed? Be honest. The premise of Low-Tech’s redesign is simple: We should be thinking about it.

    [Screenshot: Low←Tech Magazine]

    The new site is the result of two summers of collaboration with artist Roel Roscam Abbing and designers Marie Otsuka. and Lauren Traugott-Campbell, who received a grant while at RISD to work with De Decker on developing a low-energy platform and content management system for the magazine. Otsuka, now graduated and working as a type designer, wanted the the site to expose its own infrastructure.

    “This approach is very specific to Low-Tech, but I do think it’s really important to understand all the parts that go into a website–in addition to the look and feel on the front-end, the infrastructure on the back-end,” she explains. “What the design is aiming to do is show that relationship, and have the infrastructure of the website also be part of the content of the website.”

    For instance, they decided to compress every image on the site with dithering, a long-outdated form of compression that was popular in the 1990s:

    A .png image compressed with dithering. [Image: Low←Tech Magazine]
    Dithering makes images 10 times less resource-intensive–but that’s not the only reason they chose it. When the magazine relaunched, commenters pointed out that newer types of image compression could’ve achieved the same savings without changing the look of photos so much. But that wouldn’t broadcast the goal of the design in the same way to readers. “We wanted to highlight this act of compression that’s something we don’t always think about when we’re surfing the web,” Otsuka explains.

    The same logic led to the battery meter that accompanies the reader around the site. “It’s the most controversial part of the design–some people really hate it,” De Decker says. “But I think we’ll keep it, because it shows the reader that what you’re doing now consumes energy; depending on how many articles you read, it’s going to go down.”

    [Screenshot: Low←Tech Magazine]
    The team estimates that the site will be offline about 35 days per year or about 10% of the time–another design feature that some critics, unsurprisingly, saw as a glitch. In fact, when commenters pointed out that it would be simple to use multiple servers to keep the site online on cloudy days, Roel Roscam Abbing, the Dutch artist who focused on the new site’s hardware, responded by explaining how the weather is fundamental to the design.

    “We are aware that we could make multiple servers around the world to always have the sun shining and use clever routing to always have the machine online,” he wrote. “In the case of our server it is fairly simple to have a 90% uptime with a cheap and energy efficient computer and a small solar panel. However, to go above that 90% we would need to double or triple the machines used, the solar panels necessary and our storage capacity available. That is not even mentioning the resources necessary to maintain all of this in different parts of the world. If this is to work in a sustainable way, we have to change our attitude and the best way to do that in terms of web is to challenge the holy grail of ‘uptime.'”

    [Screenshot: Low←Tech Magazine]

    Otsuka points to Jevons’ paradox, an economic theory that states that if you become more efficient at using a particular resource, you don’t end up using less of it. Instead, you use more–because of increased demand. In other words, the goal isn’t to make today’s typically heavy web design more efficient. It’s to reduce its energy consumption overall. Or, as Roscam Abbing puts it on the site’s open source guide to low-tech design, “Not in order to be able to ‘do more with the same,’ but rather ‘to do the same with less.'”

    What makes the idea so powerful is that, by reducing the energy footprint of the site, the design also subtly improves the experience of the person reading it. Because it has no ads, relying instead on Patreon donors, the site has no cookies or third-party content to track visitors. It doesn’t profile readers. There are no pop-up boxes or dark patterns. Because it exists as a static site, each page downloads 10 times faster. The fact that it won’t be available sometimes forces readers to “plan” when they will access its content around the weather and the time of day, rather than deluging them with it at all hours.

    The design nudges readers to consume less energy, which means altering our behavior and being a little more thoughtful about the information we consume. It makes the internet feel like a finite resource: Rather than begging us to click, it asks us to only click when we need to. Do you really need that extra tab?


    0 0

    The National Weather Service said late yesterday that Hurricane Micheal is threatening some 300 miles of coastland in the Gulf and is expected to be “large and dangerous” when it makes landfall sometime on Wednesday.” The storm is currently a Category 1 but is expected to strengthen. It could have winds topping 111 mph by the time it reaches the Florida panhandle. Residents are told to brace for life-threatening storm surges, damaging winds, and flash flooding.

    States of emergency have been declared in Alabama and 35 Florida counties, three of which have issued mandatory evacuations according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

    If you’re looking to track the storm’s path and stay updated, I’ve rounded up a few good resources below.

    This story is developing. Check back for updates.


    0 0

    Life is made up of disagreements large and small, with everyone from your spouse, kids, or parents, to strangers on the street. But perhaps one of the most fraught and stressful situations is when you disagree with the person who can decide whether you keep your job.

    So how can you argue with your boss without coming off as a naysayer or a perceived threat?

    Gabriel Grant, CEO of Human Partners and author of the book Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World, says disagreements can sometimes feel threatening because they can come off as dismissive to a subject someone holds close.

    “When that’s your identity, what you love, and what you value most, there’s presumably a lot on the line,” he says.

    When it comes to presenting your arguments the right way, you first need to decide if you’re disagreeing for the right reasons. If there is something important to add to the discussion, and you’re not countering just for the sake of it, then consider the below for the forgotten art of disagreeing in a constructive manner:

    1. Know what style influences the other party

    When it comes to persuasion, a huge factor in success is the planning. And a major part of that planning is understanding how the other party prefers to communicate.

    “One of the things about having a boss is you have to know what sort of style influences them,” says Priscilla Claman, career coach and president of Career Strategies, Inc. “There’s a reason why the New York Times, among others, have all these gorgeous charts and graphs. They’re very influential.”

    In short, is this person a data-rich person? Or are they more influenced by how their decisions impact others?

    2. Recruit credible sources for your cause

    If you’re really stuck, and the other party just isn’t hearing you at all, it might be time to widen the circle of people you need to persuade. One strategy is rounding up people who agree with you and make a joint presentation, as the more people behind a cause, the more credible it becomes.

    Another strategy is to recruit the help of someone you know the other party trusts. For instance, if you know your boss really trusts a particular executive, try to persuade that person, then ask them to share the information with your boss.

    “It’s actually a very good strategy,” Claman says, “but the downside is that if you’re right, you never get the credit for it. But at least you stop the problem from going over the cliff.”

    When the conversation is really stuck

    For those really sticky conversations that feel like you’ll never be able to reach an agreement, there’s still a chance you can stay true to yourself, get your message across, and simultaneously strengthen your relationship with the other party.

    Grant, who regularly works with social and environmental change leaders, provides two tips for when you’re trying to change someone’s mind, but the conversation is at a gridlock:

    1. Focus on results. In challenging conversations, we end up reacting to what Grant calls a gap between the world that we want and the world in which we’re currently living.

    In other words, if your superior is really upsetting you, Grant suggests reacting in a way that is consistent with what you want in the future, not with how things are right now. So, if your goal is to have a future where people are cooperative, then being upset or angry–even if those emotions are valid–isn’t going to contribute to the future you want to create.

    Case in point: Executive A sends Executive B an email saying that Executive B was angry, judgmental, and dismissive when he should have been cooperative and supportive in their last meeting. However, the email itself isn’t cooperative and supportive, so how can the result ever be cooperative and supportive?

    “Who you’re being is wildly more powerful than what’s being said,” says Grant, so before you make your point, make sure you first deal with your own background conversation. Take care of any thoughts, opinions, and judgments you may have, or you won’t be able to have a successful conversation out in the open later on.

    “Most of the conversations we have are like the iceberg under the water, and what’s being said is what’s above water,” explains Grant. “And if you think changing what’s being said is going to make the difference, then you’re not actually moving the iceberg, you’re just moving the ice around above the water.”

    2. Identify hidden baggage that came before you. Sometimes you aren’t the reason why someone can’t hear you. Sometimes it’s baggage that’s projected onto you because of all the people and experiences the other party encountered before you.

    Grant explains: “When I identify as an environmentalist, then all of the baggage, all of the background conversation around environmentalists immediately gets put onto me, so all of sudden I’m working through that, and I don’t even know that I’m working through that because I just met you.”

    One of the ways you can get around this is identifying the baggage that came before you and is following you into conversations. You can do this by trying to imagine what the other party might think you stand for, what they might think you’re advocating for, and acknowledge it at the start of the conversation.

    The cons of never disagreeing

    Because disagreeing and conflict trigger the flight mode, and emotional stress is felt throughout the body, it’s natural to want to avoid it. But navigating those tough conversations are needed in our polarized world. It’s needed for diversity of thought and ideas. In organizations, disagreeing defeats groupthink, and that’s why the best teams know how to disagree and encourage it.

    On an individual level, the art of disagreeing is needed lest we become a “yes” person to our superiors. And even if your boss isn’t directly telling you so, they want you to disagree when needed and bring something new to the table.

    “It doesn’t always mean disagreeing,” Claman says, “but it does mean being prepared to disagree.”


    0 0

    Stop to consider the people you care about most. Some are no doubt only alive today because of advances in science and technology. Putting aside the the fact that many of us have been saved by vaccines, I think of my daughter, who has Type 1 Diabetes, saved by artificial insulin; I think of my father, who recently had an abdominal infection, saved by antibiotics; I think of my friend who nearly died in childbirth because of internal bleeding, saved by surgery. All of them—as well as myself, saved by diagnosis, surgery, and radiation treatment for cancer over 20 years ago—would have been dead 100 years ago.

    Today, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has risen to nearly 79 (despite falling behind the rest of the developed world). But even with the additional years of life that so many of us enjoy due to advances in medicine, trust in the healthcare system is in marked decline. In 1966, when life expectancy in the United States was 70 years, nearly three-quarters of Americans said they had great confidence in medical providers, but by 2012 this number had fallen to just one-third of Americans—even though we had gained another eight years of life on average over that time. No doubt this mistrust has little to with medicine itself and everything to do with economic anxiety. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy for American households. We get far less for our money in the United States for medical treatment compared to other countries, while at the same time being required to navigate a confusing bureaucracy that demands we unravel Kafkaesque intricacies of insurance enrollment, FSAs, HSAs, co-payments, and pre-existing conditions to get the services we need. It’s hard to have confidence in an inefficient system that threatens to leave you destitute if you take advantage of its benefits.

    Contrast that to the sharing economy. Every day, we put our trust in connected services that suggest we and our children hop into cars with complete strangers, help us to invite strangers to stay in our homes, guide our love lives, and allow delivery people to open our front doors to drop off packages. Meanwhile, we are seeing ever-decreasing trust in a highly regulated industry populated by people who have dedicated years of their lives to becoming experts, and who regularly save our lives. Why is this? And what can the healthcare industry learn from the sharing economy?

    The sharing economy is built upon service and interaction designs that engender interpersonal trust, since those services rely upon users to personally trust their Airbnb hosts (or guests), their Lyft drivers (or riders), their Tinder dates, and so on. We trust others who:

    1. Are honest and authentic
    2. Are empathic toward our needs
    3. Act predictably and logically (which requires, of course, that they know what they’re doing)

    The design of these services foster a sort of golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you–lest you get a bad rating and become shunned by the community.

    Beyond digital services, interpersonal trust is the basis of our entire system of automotive transit: We trust that the other people hurtling along at breakneck speeds in two-ton hunks of metal aren’t going to mow us down while we’re walking on the sidewalk, or crash into us while we’re inches away in our own speeding death-machines. Sure, accidents happen, but insofar as the whole system works, it’s because we trust that other drivers are people just like us, with the same needs, and same desire not to get into a wreck. (This is perhaps why people have a higher opinion of their own doctors than the medical industry as a whole, despite doctors’ increasingly compressed time with patients.)

    One place the healthcare industry might start when considering how to build or repair trust is to evaluate its products, services, and communications vis-a-vis the principles of interpersonal trust that the sharing economy is built upon. Let’s take a closer look at how:

    [Source Images: VikiVector/iStock]

    Honesty and authenticity

    The first step here is to clarify an organization’s promise to people: What value do you create in the world for people? Why do they engage with your product or service? It’s crucial that a promise be straightforward, free of puffery, and realistic. It should be a cogent, crisp explanation of how somebody might, themselves, describe the impact you make in their lives. This promise can be inspiring and aspirational, but it also must be something that you can track back to actions.

    Consider the mission statements of a few of the leading healthcare companies in the Fortune 500:

    UnitedHealth Group: Our mission is to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone.

    CVS Health: We are a pharmacy innovation company with a simple and clear purpose: Helping people on their path to better health.

    Anthem: Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions.

    Humana: We work to empower our members and help them live healthy, active and rewarding lives.

    Pfizer: Our purpose is to innovate to bring therapies to patients that significantly improve their lives.

    Mission statements such as these can only positively impact trust if they do two things: direct the creation of products and services that follow through on the mission statement’s promise(s), and (presuming products and services make good on the mission), inform marketing communications so that consumers are aware of and understand the promises. If a mission statement doesn’t help an organization to do either of these things, it’s probably worth revisiting the mission statement itself.

    Healthcare mission statements suffer a challenge in that insurers, providers, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacies alike make pretty much the same promise: “helping people on their path to better health,” helping “live healthy, active and rewarding lives,” to “help people live healthier lives,” and so on. The promise of helping people in their quest for health is noble, and may be true, but lacks specificity that people can believe in and see in their lives.

    Consider that only 9% of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical companies value their health over profits, and only 16% believe insurers do. Much repair is needed to rebuild trust—and one place to start is by clarifying the specific promises being made by healthcare companies, and ensuring they are both truthful and understood.

    [Source Images: VikiVector/iStock]

    Empathy

    Being empathic isn’t always easy, as it requires work: people need to put aside their own needs, listen to other people’s feelings and needs, and actively demonstrate that they understand those feelings and needs. It’s a learned skill that takes practice. Organizations must demonstrate empathy in a very different way: by creating products, services, and communications that anticipate and provide solutions to people’s needs.

    Every large complex organization faces issues of fragmented, institutional silos that make the creation of empathetic experiences challenging. Design thinking is now a de rigeur approach to help organizations (which cannot, by definition, be empathic) create products and services designed to meet people’s needs, and thereby feel empathetic to people and earn trust. The medical field is no different. The approach has been adopted as a method to help teams understand and empathize with patients, improve interdisciplinary collaboration, and rapidly prototype ideas.

    But design thinking has a challenge, which is that it is easy to confuse occasional workshops with long-lasting, sustainable solutions. To make a real impact, design thinking needs to be part of an integrated, iterative, research-led approach, wherein experiences improve over time, informed by data and insights. To succeed, it must be part of a way of working, not an activity.

    This mindset of continual improvement and evolution can prove challenging in healthcare, given the (appropriately) stringent controls that the FDA, HHS, and other regulatory agencies place on medical products and services. Consider the crucial yet bizarre role that the antiquated fax machine still plays in the healthcare industry, largely due to issues with data sharing.

    To make meaningful use of design thinking and to create product roadmaps that are nimble enough to grow and evolve to meet people’s needs at the pace they expect, the healthcare industry must invest in platforms—such as Apple HealthKit—that are certified for use in the industry. It’s equally important that these platforms be built for innovation and that design teams working on them be empowered.

    [Source Images: VikiVector/iStock]

    Predictability and logic

    A 2015 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine titled “Why do People Avoid Medical Care?” found three main reasons why people avoid medical care: they had an unfavorable opinion of the experience of seeking medical care; they didn’t perceive the need; and lastly—and most significantly—cost (both time and money).

    It’s not surprising. Who among us with insurance knows with any great confidence what our copay might be at any given doctor’s visit, or for any given prescription? The last time you visited your doctor, could you have said how long you would wait? Or when you’d be done with your appointment? Can you say, for sure, if your last annual physical was necessary? At what age, and how often, should you get a mammogram or colonoscopy? What percentage of the times you’ve visited your doctor when feeling under the weather, would you have just gotten better without visiting them? How many of the medical procedures you’ve had were actually necessary?

    The very mental model; i.e., what one believes is true about the behavior of a system—of how one should engage with healthcare, is broken, making the experience feel unpredictable and illogical. This problem is aggregated by the disorganized patchwork of organizations (providers, insurers, pharmacies, drug makers, regulatory agencies, etc.) that each of us is required to engage with to receive healthcare in the United States.

    One potential way to ameliorate this problem is better communication and education. The medical industry has just started to shift to email and SMS push notifications as a way to communicate with patients—but to truly engage with patients, a broader set of modern touchpoints, such as social media, could be considered.

    [Source Images: VikiVector/iStock]

    Design can help, but only to an extent

    While a radical overhaul of the American medical system might address some of the public’s vexation with medical care, many issues stem from scale and complexity, and will remain so even if substantive reform comes to pass. There are very few analogous service design challenges where the customer base isn’t a specific demographic or segment for whom features and functionality can be prioritized and tailored accordingly, ignoring the needs of other segments; instead, the experience of healthcare must serve everybody in society. To design healthcare systems in which we all can trust, we need to clarify the foundational promise that we make to people, ensure that this promise meets real needs, and craft experiences to keep that promise.

    Jason Brush is executive vice president of Creative and UX at POSSIBLE, where he oversees creative and user experience design in the agency’s Los Angeles branch, and user experience design globally. In addition to his award-winning work at POSSIBLE, he teaches courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and at UCLA.  @jasonbrush / Linkedin


older | 1 | .... | 514 | 515 | (Page 516) | 517 | 518 | .... | 603 | newer