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    A few months after the 2016 presidential election, some college students experienced levels of stress comparable to what witnesses feel half a year after a mass shooting. A study of hundreds of Arizona State University students in early 2017, published today, found that 25% showed clinically significant levels of stress.

    The lead author, who teaches at San Francisco State University, decided to pursue the study after seeing the reactions of her two classes the day after the election. “In both classes, students were visibly upset, and even crying,” says Melissa Hagan, an assistant professor of psychology at the university. Many of the students were women or came from immigrant families.

    “They described being fearful of what the election outcome meant for the country,” she says. “I became concerned that the election might have led to clinically significant symptoms–intrusive thoughts, extreme avoidance of reminders of the election or election results, et cetera.”

    In the study, researchers surveyed Arizona State students about how satisfied or upset they were by the election results, and then had students fill out a psychological assessment that looks at how people have been impacted by a particular event, considering some of the symptoms that under other circumstances could lead to a diagnosis of PTSD. (That diagnosis only applies to experiences related to death, serious injury, or sexual violence–not elections.) Students were asked, for example, if they were dreaming about the election or thinking about it when they didn’t want to.

    A quarter of the students passed the threshold for clinically significant levels of distress; when the study happened in January and February 2017, a few months after the election, their stress levels were similar to that of someone seven months after witnessing a mass shooting. Black and Hispanic students scored higher on the assessment than white students, and non-Christian students were more impacted than Christians. Democrats, unsurprisingly, scored higher than Republicans.

    Female students scored 45% higher than males–perhaps in part a reaction to the fact that the winning candidate was accused of sexual assault and had bragged about what sounded like sexual assault on tape. “Given that this candidate was elected to the highest office in the country, I think that many women may have seen this as a reflection of a general disregard for women’s rights and safety,” says Hagan.

    Other reports after the election also found that it was stressful–the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that more than half of adults rated the election as a significant source of stress, and for young adults, the rate was higher. But the new study documents how severe that stress was for many people. “What we found was that for a sizable minority of college students, the election was associated with clinical levels of distress–levels of distress that are often seen in those who are at high risk of post-traumatic stress disorder,” she says.


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    Anytime a horror movie has a big opening weekend, the resulting headlines are haunted by familiar puns. “The Exorcism of Some Lady SCARES UP $35M.” “Knifey McKillmurder 2 SLICES UP $47M.” “Son of Chupacabra has MONSTER opening with $54M.” And further examples.

    Over the weekend, the new Halloween sequel/reboot (seekboot?) vivisected up the scare-ifyingly large sum of $77M, breaking several records in the process. One of those records in particular, though, caught our attention.

    The record in question is Biggest Movie Opening with a Female Lead Over 55. My instant reaction to that record was something along the lines of “Hell yeah, JLC. Literally slay, kween.” Curtis is someone who’s easy to root for, even aside from the fact that the film rests heavily on her shoulders and she carries it off admirably.

    That’s probably why so many media outlets dutifully reported this statistic. I was going to join the chorus and report it for Fast Company as well, but then a simple question from my editor sent me barreling down a women-of-a-certain-age rabbit hole. Please join me.

    What was the previous record holder for Biggest Movie Opening with a Female Lead Over 55? That’s what my editor wanted to know and what I intended to find out. I will spare you any horror movie-style suspense and say that I failed. But what a journey it has been.

    Google, the first line of offense in such inquiries, proved to be useless. Any variation on the keywords simply brought up all the near-identical reports that the record had been broken. If there had been a gatekeeper website devoted to monitoring such things and updating them accordingly, it was well hidden.

    The website most known for monitoring these records, Box Office Mojo, didn’t have this information either. Box Office Mojo is the site entertainment reporters turn to upwards of 50 times per week as an industry authority, and yet before this search I’d never delved into many fields of its records. Looking through the All Time vertical, you can easily find out all sorts of esoteric trivia–the #1 NC-17 rated film (Showgirls), Most Consecutive Weeks at #1 (Titanic), and Worst Very Wide Opening Weekend (OogieLoves in the Big Balloon Adventure.) Not so easy to find: Biggest Movie Opening with a Female Lead Over 55. (An email to the press contact at IMDb, which owns Box Office Mojo, has gone unreturned as of this posting.)

    What likely happened is that this has not been an ongoing record the industry has been watching. Universal Studios, and others of its ilk, probably anticipate possible records they might be able to tout and then check internally to see whether they bear out. (An email to a press contact at Universal, which distributed Blumhouse’s take on Halloween, has gone as yet unreturned.) Without seeing the previous record-holders on the list, though, it’s hard to know for sure exactly what counts as a film with a Female Lead Over 55. The best we can do is guesstimate.

    Sigourney Weaver was third-billed in Avatar, which brought in $77 in its 2009 opening weekend (just a nosehair behind Halloween’s $77.5 take). Does that count as a Movie with a Female Lead Over 55? And if so, are we adjusting for inflation? (We are not adjusting for inflation.) Far more recently, Holly Hunter was the co-lead in The Incredibles 2, which boasted a tremendously ass-kicking $182.6M. Does that not count because it’s an animated movie?

    Holly Hunter’s role in The Incredibles 2 may be no less vital to that film’s success than Jamie Lee Curtis’s in Halloween, but the difference is in how much the film relies on each respectively. Hunter is part of an ensemble in The Incredibles, whereas Curtis is instead surrounded by talented performers like Judy Greer and newcomer Andi Matichak in smaller roles. Therein lies the rub.

    The amount of space JLC occupies in Halloween, and what she does with it, is way more than we’re used to seeing from a woman her age in a major release. The reason this record isn’t something that’s come up much as a ceiling to be shattered is that the national conversation around movies often excludes older women.

    Perhaps the success of Halloween will prove to executives that letting older women carry a movie isn’t such a scary idea.


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    More companies than ever will offer their employees paid time off to cast their ballots this year, Bloomberg reports.

    About 44% of U.S. companies will do so, up from 37% last year, meaning that the majority of companies still don’t provide such a provision, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management. Some businesses have also instituted no-meeting policies for Election Day, hoping to clear up employee schedules, and some have added onsite registration to make sure their employees are actually eligible to vote.

    Voter turnout is lower in the United States than many other countries, and the difficulty of workers with inflexible schedules actually making it to the polls is often cited as a reason why. Many states do have laws requiring employers to give workers time to vote in some circumstances, according to a Nolo.com roundup, but the exact provisions vary widely from state to state.

    For example, Alabama only requires employers to provide one unpaid hour at a time of the business’s choosing, while New York says workers can take as long as they need if they don’t already have four consecutive non-work hours while polls are open and can get paid for at least two hours of voting time.


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    Apple Music is ready to take Manhattan.

    After opening branches in London and Los Angeles, the company finally got around to opening a New York studio for its Beats 1 crew. The studio is located in Manhattan’s Union Square. “I want this space to represent the sound and energy of New York, and how multicultural this city is,” said Ebro Darden, host of New York’s seminal radio program Ebro in the Morning and a Beats 1 legend.

    To mark the occasion, Apple Music threw a FOMO-worthy party, with Beats 1 talent coming together from around the world to kick it with Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes, French Montana, Joyner Lucas, Diana Gordon, Abir, Teyana Taylor, Nina Sky, and many more. “This is a huge moment,” said Zane Lowe, the OG Beats 1 DJ. “We are fully functioning in one of the greatest cities in the world now.”

    Now that the New York space is open for business, Beats 1 hosts and artists will be able to tape their shows whenever they’re in town, or just get on the mic to broadcast live to over 100 countries globally. Beats 1 already has a killer roster with Nicki Minaj, Elton John, Mike D, and The Weeknd broadcasting their thoughts to an ever-growing number of Apple Music subscribers. Now that they have a New York operation, perhaps that roster will somehow grow even cooler.


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    There’s a straightforward rule of customer service–never make your customer feel like an idiot. This might seem obvious, but if you’re not careful, it’s pretty easy to send this message unintentionally. Sometimes, all it takes is a single word.

    Over the years, I’ve observed and critiqued hundreds of customer service interactions. Many of them have been phone calls to our client’s service or technical support departments. We use these calls to help develop training programs. As you may imagine, many of these discussions include customers with a problem.

    The thing is, not all of these “problems” involved angry or upset customers. Most of them began in a quite civilized manner. But it was not unusual for some calls to escalate to an unpleasant level, with customers becoming angry, sometimes very angry.

    Here’s what’s interesting: When listening to these calls again, we could pinpoint the precise moment when a customer’s emotional state changed. In most cases, the trigger had far less to do with the issue at hand and everything to do with how the employee responded.

    Upon digging deeper, we discovered similarities in words and phrases that created a negative response. Two of the most offensive words on the list involved “invisible language”–words that aren’t necessary spoken, but that the person heard. Here are two examples:

    “Actually”

    “Actually” was the most common culprit, and it’s something we are all guilty of saying from time to time. Alone, the word “actually” is harmless. But when you use it at the beginning of a sentence, its impact significantly changes.

    When someone starts a sentence with actually, we know what’s going to follow. We are about to be corrected. We are about to be told we are wrong. We’re about to feel like an idiot.

    “Actually” is one of the hallmarks of serial contrarians: people who can’t seem to stop themselves from correcting others. When you comment that something is light green, they respond with “actually, it’s mint.” As a long-reformed serial contrarian, I can attest in seeing a difference in my ability to connect with people when I stopped this behavior.

    “Like I told you before”

    Here is another guaranteed customer service killer. Saying “Like I told you before.” This phrase only serves one purpose: to vent your frustration and make the other person feel stupid. There are no benefits whatsoever to this phrase. None. Ever.

    Sure, maybe you have already said this to a customer. Perhaps even many times. Sure, it’s frustrating. But this is where rule number one comes in: “Never make your customer feel like an idiot.” This rule holds true no matter how much of an idiot you perceive someone to be.

    What to do if you have to correct someone

    Of course, there are times when correcting a misunderstanding is the right thing to do. But there is a way to do it without being condescending. Stop and ask yourself, what’s the benefit? Is it important? Does the benefit of the correction outweigh the risk of making this person feel stupid? If there isn’t any benefit, you’re better off biting your tongue.

    You can also use what’s called the “validate-clarify-continue” technique. This is a language strategy that helps you present correct information while minimizing the risk of triggering negative emotions. For example, instead of saying “Actually, the entrance is at the back of this building,” try something like this:

    • (Validate their belief) “It would make sense for the entrance to be at the front, wouldn’t it!”
    • (Clarify) “For some reason, the entrance here is at the back”
    • (Continue–with a question to move the conversation forward) “Do you know how to get around there?”

    The payoff to getting customer service right

    Focusing on language might seem trivial, but these little things make a big difference, particularly in today’s digital world. Just think about the impact of someone talking about terrible customer service via social media. A recent study by New Voice Media estimates that U.S. companies are losing $62 billion each year due to poor customer experience.

    Of course, service failures and negative situations are inevitable in any business. But these are precisely the moments when companies need to step up their customer service game. If you get it right, people will start talking about you in a good way. A 2016 study identified that 72% of positive “wow” experiences–experiences that customers are likely to share with friends family and on social media–stem from difficult situations. When customers feel that you care and are taking ownership of a negative situation, they remember it.

    When you know a product inside out, and a customer tells you something about it that you know is wrong, it’s tempting to point out their error. But remember, in customer service, your job is not to prove to them that you’re right. Your role is to help them fix whatever problem they’re having with your product, and make them feel like you care. That’s not going to happen if you make them feel like an idiot.


    Shaun Belding is the author of The Journey to Wow and CEO of The Belding Group of Companies–an award-winning business dedicated to global customer service training and customer experience.


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    This hurricane season is shaping up to be especially eventful for both coasts of North America. After hurricanes Florence, Gordon, and Michael (to name a few) pummeled the East Coast and Gulf states, the newly formed Hurricane Willa is now bearing down on the West Coast of Mexico.

    The storm is rapidly intensifying, having already strengthened to become a Category 5 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said today, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. Willa is likely to make landfall sometime on Tuesday afternoon, with the only bright spot being that it is expected to weaken to a Category 4 before it does. Either way, NHC called the storm “potentially catastrophic.”

    According to ABC News, this hurricane season is the most active since 1971 for the eastern Pacific Ocean.

    If you’re looking to track the path of this monstrous storm, I’ve rounded up a few good resources below for real-time updates and infographics.


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    Millions of plastic bottles are sold around the world each minute. Many of those are water bottles that end up in the trash a few minutes later, despite the fact that the people who buy them are not far from a drinking fountain or a restaurant willing to refill a bottle.

    A new app called Tap maps out those refill locations and gives walking directions to the closest place that you can get water without extra plastic. “So long as you carry your own bottle, you never have to buy a bottle of water ever again,” says Samuel Ian Rosen, founder and CEO of Tap.

    [Image: Tap]

    Rosen, the cofounder and previous CEO of the storage company MakeSpace, started thinking about the problem of bottled water while traveling. The usual explanation of why people choose bottled water is convenience; Rosen believed that a large part of the problem is really that people just don’t know where they can refill a bottle of their own. He searched Google Maps for water fountains in New York City, and found nothing. “I think people drink bottled water because they can’t find water,” he says.

    As of launch today, the app lists more than 34,000 refill stations in 30 countries. Some of the locations are traditional water fountains, while others are restaurants or stores, like Sweetgreen, Lululemon, or Adidas, that either have refill stations or are willing to refill a bottle over the counter as a way to draw in customers. “I just realized that all these places were already giving out free water and none of them had a map that connects all of it,” he says.

    [Image: Tap]

    In the U.K., a similar app called Refill also lists restaurants and cafes that can refill water bottles; like Tap, the project also gives stickers to cafes to put in their windows to encourage people to come inside and ask for water. But Tap, with a global presence, plans to expand more quickly. The app will soon add a feature to let users add new refill stations to the list, and later plans to let users rate locations, so it can refer someone to the best-tasting water nearby. “By connecting water to the internet, we can now start reporting on the quality of water and use Tap as a search engine for thirst,” says Rosen.

    The app also includes locations that offer refills of sparkling and flavored water–Penn State University, for example, has a free Aquafina station with flavored water, and others offer refills for a small fee. It could later expand to other drinks, Rosen says, like soda, kombucha, or beer taps where users can refill growlers. “The future is happening now,” he says. “PepsiCo bought SodaStream for $3.2 billion. That’s the number two player essentially saying our way to become number one is to go bottle-less, right? That’s what I see happening.”


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    The boutique hotel game is all about cozy charm and exclusivity–and the latest overnight stay to open in Antwerp, Belgium, fits the bill on both counts to near comic effect. The precious new one-room hotel, designed by Belgian architecture firm dmvA, is a stunning, three-story, 17th-century gabled home with a historic facade that measures less than eight feet wide, and accommodates just one guest bedroom.

    “I was captured by the the scale of the house and the marvelous location at the corner in the historical centre of Antwerp,” says the firm’s founder, Tom Verschueren, by email. The owners of the property, a couple who purchased the house as a holiday home that they could rent out for the majority of the year, sought to revamp the 400-year-old structure with a modern, luxe interior that would attract guests, rather than deter them, with its diminutive size.

    [Photo: Bart Gosselin/courtesy dmvA Architects]

    “Initially, I had concerns about how to convert a small historical house into a luxury one-room hotel without touching the historical elements,” says the architect, but inside, the petite, jewel box-like space connected to an adjacent back corner house, which had been renovated to form a single space. “I really was surprised during my first visit that the house had a L-shaped floorpan instead a rectangular one. So in fact, the house was more spacious than you would expect from the outside.”

    To clarify and enlarge the space, the firm created a minimal, all-white interior and added a network of open-tread staircases that wind through the property like “an architectural promenade.” They also replaced sections of the wooden flooring with transparent glass tiles, Verschueren adds, to create diagonal views and enlarge visitors’ sense of the open, “one-room” space. The result is a unique and modern home that stands in stark contrast to the perfectly preserved exterior.

    [Photo: Bart Gosselin/courtesy dmvA Architects]

    But what’s in a name? Why call it a “hotel” instead of, say, a rental or bed and breakfast?

    In the age of social media, user experience is still everything.

    “Adventure is becoming a keyword in the global tourism industry,” says Verschueren. “The concept of the One Room Hotel is based on this tendency. We believe that the market for these kind of initiatives will grow [in] the coming years.”

    A space likely to hit the bucket list–and Instagram feeds–of millennial travelers, the one-room, once-in-a-lifetime stay, officially listed on booking.com as “The Grand,” will run about $185 an evening. If this handsome property is the new face of the tiny house movement, sign me up.


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    The federal and local governments have long relied on private companies for defense and law enforcement technologies, from Lockheed Martin jetfighters to Booz Allen Hamilton data analysis. But increasingly, the government is expanding beyond the usual defense contractors to the company that also provides free shipping and online TV.

    “The . . . thing that was shocking for me was to understand just how the federal authorizations are allowing Amazon to have such a monopoly over the storage of government information,” says Jacinta Gonzalez, field organizer for immigrant advocacy group Mijente. Along with the National Immigration Project and the Immigrant Defense Project, Mijente funded a new report entitled, “Who’s Behind ICE?: The Tech and Data Companies Fueling Deportations.”

    Its findings are based on documents such as contracts, memoranda, and corporate financial reports–which are publicly available but take a lot of digging to decipher. (We’ve asked Amazon for feedback on the accuracy of the report, but have yet to receive a response.)


    Related: How tech workers became activists, leading a resistance movement that is shaking up Silicon Valley


    While Amazon plays the leading role, the report also details the involvement of companies including Peter Thiel’s Palantir, NEC, and Thomson Reuters in storing, transferring, and analyzing data on both undocumented residents and U.S. citizens. The U.S. government is moving its databases from federal facilities to cloud providers, especially Amazon Web Services (AWS), raising concerns about accountability.

    “There is a transfer of discretion and power from the public sector to the private sector in the form of these contracted technological services,” says Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU in Washington State, which was not involved in the report. Based in Seattle, Narayan tracks Amazon’s growing role in law enforcement, such as its facial recognition tech of disputed accuracy, called Rekognition.

    Groups like Mijente draw attention to the extent of data gathering used by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement. “People on the ground have been more and more [saying to us] ‘How do they have information about my taxes?’ How do they have information about where I drive my car?'” says Gonzalez.

    She’s also seen, and experienced, the gathering of biometric data in public. “When I was working in New Orleans back in 2013 and 2014 . . . ICE was stopping anyone that looks Latino,” claims Gonzalez. “And they were handcuffing them and fingerprinting them using mobile biometric devices.”

    Gonzalez herself, a Mexico-born U.S. citizen, was transferred to immigration custody after being arrested at a March 2016 civil disobedience protest against then-candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix, where she now works. (She refused to provide information to authorities after her arrest to clarify her legal status.)

    Last November, Mijente joined other organizations in a lawsuit demanding that ICE provide information on its abandoned plans for a series of immigration raids in several US cities called “Operation Mega.”

    ICE has a mandate to enforce US immigration law, but it’s faced widespread condemnation for tactics including the separation of families at the US border. Gonzalez charges hypocrisy in how ICE uses its substantial technological tools. “They have technologies to be able to surveil you,” she says. “But somehow they can’t keep track of your children when they’re being separated from you and ripped out of your arms.”

    Mistrust of how governments use technology and data is exacerbated by a lack of transparency, say activists. “I think we’ve raised that concern, for example, around face surveillance,” says Narayan. “It’s remote, it’s undetectable, it could be ubiquitous, and the government doesn’t even have to really determine who they’re going to follow around in advance.” But there’s reason to fear that this surveillance will extend beyond immigration enforcement and crime-fighting, he says, pointing to a history of political surveillance from civil rights leaders in the 1960s to New York City Muslim communities after 9/11.

    Getting information is even harder now that the technology and data are in private hands, he claims. “That’s the dynamic that makes these technologies hard to even detect, let alone to put some standards of accountability around,” says Narayan. “You don’t get to crack open that black box, because these entities will use trade secret [protections], will use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prevent entities from coming in and testing [their] products.”

    “We’re really getting past the point of no return in terms of our ability to put safeguards in place to hold these large corporations accountable,” he says.


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    As Hilton nears its 100th anniversary, the hotel group is shaking off the cobwebs with a new brand geared to young travelers who lost their Hostelling International membership card at Glastonbury. Today they announced Motto by Hilton, an affordable, stylish brand aimed at travelers who like the “trifecta of centrally located, reasonably priced and less traditional lodging”, according to a statement. It’s like a youth hostel, minus the whole sleeping-with-strangers thing.

    If you’re wondering what the heck that means think small rooms (163 square feet) outfitted with space-saving features like wall-beds, lofted beds, and “multi-functional furniture” that can be discreetly stowed when not in use. (Anyone else start picturing the Barbie Fold ‘n’ Fun Home?) In case you’re worried that you won’t be able to sleep with all that furniture folding going on, Motto by Hilton is ready to help. There’s a premium mattress; a Sleep Kit with eye masks, essential oils or vitamin bars; a white noise app; blackout window shades; or sound absorbing materials throughout the room.

    As well as making it easier to put together a group of friends with whom to travel with new options to book multiple connecting rooms in advance and allowing guests to split payments between more than one person at the time of booking. The rooms will also be connected to the Hilton Honors app, letting guests control the room temperature, lighting, TV, window coverings, etc. from their phones.

    While some people may be willing to pay for a bed that doesn’t fold into the wall, Motto by Hilton could be the perfect option for people who don’t plan to spend their vacation sleeping.


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    Being a manager is largely a balancing act, constantly weighing the wants, needs, and priorities of different people against each other.

    One of the most difficult aspects of management, then, is keeping everyone around you satisfied–both the executives above you making demands and the employees on the ground floor carrying them out.

    Your superiors care about results, returns, and productivity. They need to know that jobs are being done and goals are being met. They likely don’t even know your team members outside of the tasks they complete and details in performance reviews they’re emailed but may not read.

    While they may not be very focused on culture and people, you need to be.

    The only way to deliver those results the C-suite wants is to lead your people to produce them. People who, understandably, want to feel happy, engaged, and respected at work.

    So while your own bosses may be demanding results and performance yesterday, mid-level managers can’t really make these demands yourself with the same fervor.

    Instead, to keep your team running smoothly and meeting its goals, you often need to look past work performance and conventional rules in the short term to focus on cultivating a culture where your team can succeed in the long term.

    The following are a few of those situations that can’t be overlooked when building a management plan for your department.

    1. Running team huddles

    With technology introducing so many new ways to communicate, calls and meetings have rightfully faced scrutiny over the past few years. It’s wonderful that the workforce is wising up to how inefficiently most meetings are run, but reducing them too drastically can have unintended ripple effects throughout your team’s culture.

    For example, common meeting rules would suggest team-wide or company-wide meetings should be kept to a minimum, along with appointments that lack focused agendas. But holding regular huddles, standups, or check-ins has become an essential tool for fostering team unity and collaboration.

    Especially in a workforce that’s increasingly flexible and remote, it’s one of your few chances to get your whole team together, focused on the same conversation and topic at the same time.

    It’s also a chance for employees who don’t collaborate to get to know each other and learn more about each other’s work and current projects. It’s when a designer, for example, has the opportunity to hear about what gets done with the graphics she creates, allowing her to see the bigger strategy and mission or purpose develop in real time, and better understand the impact her work has on the business. It cultivates a sense of emotional investment.

    And these meetings don’t need to be inefficient.

    Even with a distributed team, better virtual meeting tools make it simple to organize and run huddle meetings so that they’re short, organized, and helpful. For example, using ClickMeeting, you can use a shared agenda and recurring calendar invite to keep your huddles running on time–and make recordings accessible for team members on other schedules who need more asynchronous communication.

    2. Collecting ideas and feedback

    There’s a lot to be said about good versus bad feedback in the workplace. Obviously not every idea your team has will be a game changer for your business, or even a plausible idea. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard.

    In order for your team to share their best ideas and most helpful feedback with you, they need to feel comfortable sharing their worst. This means that as a manager, you must foster an environment where employees feel safe and motivated to share their thoughts with you.

    But if you’re going to create open channels of communication, where employees and internal stakeholders can easily share anything from ideas around company processes and workflows to product and marketing changes, you’re going to have a lot of information thrown at you–especially if you’re managing a larger team at multiple locations.

    That’s only a time suck if you have no process to manage it all. Otherwise, it’s an idea bank and looking glass into your team’s thoughts and attention.

    Instead of letting the daunting prospect of sifting through random feedback and comments hold you back from innovative insights from your smartest employees, develop an organized process or leverage an idea management tool like Qmarkets. A system like this can act as a sort of filter so that employees are inspired to explore and share new ideas without you needing to deal with the information overload that crowdsourcing ideas can sometimes cause.

    3. Granting flexible work

    Finally, traditional executive thinking tends to correlate hours in the office with tasks completed and results achieved. But you know that your team members are not work machines programmed to produce results without distraction; they need the right environment and circumstances to do their jobs.

    Great managers recognize when letting a team member leave early when they don’t feel well will lead to higher performance once they return. Or that their most introverted employee may need to move from the open office area to a conference room for certain types of work.

    With businesses adapting more digital tools like Asana for project management and Slack for communication, it doesn’t make as much sense as it did in the past to require your whole team in the same environment working the same way. Remaining flexible allows each employee to do their best work and tells them you respect their boundaries and strengths, which will pay off.

    Not only about the output

    Frequent meetings, listening to all ideas, and staying flexible might sound like counterintuitive management techniques that would lead to a less productive team. But when you implement the right systems around each, you can benefit from them without taking all of the assumed downsides and extra work.


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


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    I’m impressed. With its 0.2-inch metal body the size of a credit card and its e-ink display, the new KY-01L is a sight to behold; a black monolith that promises intelligent use of digital resources and a healthy life almost free of distractions. It looks like just what I wanted and yet, I find myself thinking: Is too simple just inadequate?

    [Photo: Docomo]
    I’ve been hoping for a simple phone for long time–one that’s thin, light, and efficient, and can do all the basics, like calls, messaging, GPS, and appointments. A slew of smartphone makers are now obliging, most recently Palm, which launched a tiny smartphone with a similar angle earlier this month.

    On Friday, the Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera and carrier NTT Docomo debuted their own take on digital minimalism: the KY-01L. At 1.6 ounces, it claims to be the thinnest and lightest in the world. With LTE speeds and a 2.8-inch e-ink display, its 380mAh battery will power the phone for days. The cost? $280.

    It all sounded great to me until reality set in. First of all, the KY-01L doesn’t have a camera and, since I’m one of those dads with a baby, I can’t live without one. Then there’s the issue of apps: This phone runs Android, but you can’t install applications–which means no banking or car sharing, for starters. There’s a web browser, but that’s about it.

    [Photo: Docomo]
    Then again, living without those conveniences is part of the point. Perhaps I can live without them–and perhaps not. There may be a point at which digital minimalism becomes more of a nuisance than digital well-being is worth, and it will be up to us to decide where that threshold is. In the end, I think that digital well-being is less about limiting our devices, and more about pushing our minds to be more focused.


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    In the wake of the 2016 election, a community of artists started to answer a question: What really makes America great? Trump’s campaign hadn’t defined what “great” meant, or how the country would know that it had been reached “again.” Some called the slogan a racist dog whistle–a sanitized version of a Tennessee politician’s 2016 billboard that literally said, “Make America White Again” and tried to evoke white nostalgia for the 1950s.

    A new book, What Really Makes America Great, collects the artists’ work, all in the form of posters designed to celebrate what’s already great about America, from freedom of the press and religious freedom to intersectional feminism and taco trucks.

    [Image: courtesy Creative Action Network]
    “I think with the election and over the last two years, Trump has really been able to dominate the discourse and the narrative and what we’re talking about and what we’re arguing about,” says Max Slavkin, cofounder and CEO of the Creative Action Network, a global community of artists and designers that runs campaigns on social issues and launched the campaign in early 2017. “It’s brought out a lot of nastiness and a lot of things that just don’t reflect us at our best.” Instead, Slavkin says, they wanted to flip the question: “Not what we are fighting to save today, but what are we celebrating today? Why do we care about making the future better?”

    We The People by Nik Dodani. [Image: courtesy Creative Action Network]
    Next to each image, the artist explains their inspiration. “‘We the People’ originally meant ‘We the Landowning White Men,” writes artist Nik Dodani beside his red, white, and blue poster of a woman in a headscarf with one hand on her heart and the other on her child’s shoulder. “It doesn’t anymore.” Next to a poster of raised fists that celebrates resistance, artist Trevor Messersmith writes, “Being able to openly resist oppression and challenge authority are what make America great.” Not all of the posters are political; some celebrate baseball or bourbon or hip-hop.

    When the project first started, the team planned to publish 100 posters from 100 artists in the first 100 days of the presidency. But they were overwhelmed with submissions, and the campaign is still going. “It’s still very much alive,” says Slavkin. Until now, the art was sold as posters and T-shirts on Creative Action Network’s website. Now the book will be sold nationwide, “in places like Walmart and Target, and outside of our community and outside of the world of activists and political types who follow it,” he says. “Now we can bring this message to anyone walking down an aisle at one of these stores.” Proceeds support DreamCorps, a social justice accelerator founded by Van Jones.


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    Chip Conley found himself at a crossroads at age 52. He had already found success with the boutique hotel group Joie de Vivre that he ran as CEO for 24 years. At midlife he wasn’t sure what was next, until he got a call from the young founders of Airbnb, who asked him to join their startup and guide their growth into a hospitality behemoth. Conley was happy to join in, but quickly realized that he lacked the digital fluency he needed to make it in the tech world. He hadn’t heard of the sharing economy and didn’t have the Uber or Lyft apps on his phone, and was neck-deep in a venture that was not his natural habitat. “The brave new home-sharing world didn’t need most of my old-school, brick-and-mortar insights,” he said onstage at the Fast Company Innovation Festival.

    [Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]
    While Conley had been hired as a “CEO whisperer” of sorts to help mentor Airbnb cofounder Brian Chesky, he quickly discovered that this teacher had a lot to learn. He decided not to “run for the hills,” though, but to stay and learn, and see if his “wise eyes” could learn something from their “fresh eyes.” What he discovered was that sharing knowledge—pairing his years of hospitality experience and leadership skills with their digital fluency—could benefit employees as well as the company as a whole. “Opening a pipeline of organizational wisdom is the trade agreement of our times,” he said. He started to call himself the company elder, with some 100 mentees, all sharing experiences and understanding. “That’s the new sharing economy—sharing wisdom across generations,” he said. “Mutual mentorship is the future.”

    [Photo: Samir Abady for Fast Company]
    That cross-generational effort not only helped Airbnb earn one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings across the hospitality industry, but led Conley to his next chapter: Touting the importance of the “modern elder” in the workplace. He published Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, where he outlined how companies can tap into wisdom of middle-aged workers, and middle-aged workers can translate their experience into continuing success. He also launched the Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first midlife wisdom school. The school helps midlife workers “reset, restore, and repurpose” their lives through one- or two-week programs in Baja, California. “I’m doubling down on Elder,” he said, laughing. At the Academy, workers needing to reboot their resumes and their lives learn “to evolve out of past knowledge and past experience,” and to become a vital, relevant part of the modern economy.

    “It’s a new kind of elder emerging in the workplace, not the elder of the past treated with reverence, but valued for their relevance,” Conley explained. As companies look to diversify their workplaces, Conley’s new mission is to make sure that older employees are included in that diversity drive, too, bringing the emotional intelligence and wisdom that comes with age.


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    Singapore Airlines Ltd. just reclaimed the title of flying the world’s longest commercial flight, swiping that honor from Qatar Airways’ route from Doha to Auckland. The 10,400-mile nonstop flight between New York and Singapore ensures that passengers can live out their Crazy Rich Asian fantasies after a mere 18 hours and 45 minutes in the air.

    This is not a new route for Singapore, but high fuel prices led them to scuttle the route back in 2013. Thanks to new technology, increasingly light-weight materials, new wing tips that cut down on drag, and cheaper fuel, the route became viable again. They now have seven A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft to make the flight between Newark Liberty and Changi Airport, as well as for nonstop service to Los Angeles starting in November.

    I hopped aboard a recent flight and am here to report–the title does not lie. Here’s what it’s like to fly the world’s longest flight:

    The plane is divided between business and premium economy, with 67 flat-bed seats in a 1 seat-2 seat-1 seat configuration for business class and 94 premium economy places in a mostly 2-4-2 arrangement at the rear (there are a few single seats, which I should have booked). The good news is that the configuration means no one has to spend nearly 20 hours shoehorned into a coach seat in addition to being trapped in a flying tin can for nearly a day.

    The premium economy option is not bad. The seat pitch is only 38 inches, which means you can’t quite stretch your legs, but leg rests and foot rests make it more comfortable than you might expect. It’s almost possible to sleep, which is the key to success on such a long flight. And the flight is long. Like, really long. Like every single time I looked at the flight clock, it was still the longest flight I had ever been on. As in, watch two movies and eat a meal and there are still 14 hours to go long. In short, there’s nothing short about this flight.

    The first leg I was in business class, complete with lie-flat beds, free slippers, and three-course meals. I slipped on my compression socks (it takes a while) figured out how to use my Lumos smart sleep mask that helps alleviate jet lag and settled in. While lie-flat beds are a great perk, because the flight departed at 10:25 a.m. it was nearly impossible to sleep. I watched a few movies (Sing Street, the Oceans oeuvre) out of 1,000 available on the in-flight entertainment, listened to hours of podcasts (Teen Creeps, Longform, 99% Invisible), read a book (Tana French’s The Witch Elm), did the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, tried to convince myself to nap, and checked the flight clock every hour convinced that time had stopped moving at some point. By the time I landed at Changi Airport in the late evening, I was exhausted, desperate for fresh air, really really sick of lying flat, and eager for laksa. An entire day of my life was gone, but hey, at least I didn’t have to transfer planes.

    Even though I was in premium economy for the return flight, it was better. This was partially because I knew what I was in for but mostly because the flight left Singapore at 10 p.m. bound to land at Newark at 6 a.m. The flight was basically a decent way to spend the longest night. I slept for eight hours, watched almost an entire season of Star Trek: Discovery, and started a new book (Lauren Groff’s Florida). I landed back in the U.S. tired and needing a shower, but in much better shape than when I arrived in Singapore, albeit without the laksa to look forward to.

    While being trapped in a flying tube for nearly 20 hours isn’t a treat, it is certainly an efficient way to fly around the world. For passengers heading to Singapore for business or for anyone wanting to live out their Crazy Rich Asians fantasies, the flight is as quick as possible and that alone makes it a great option.


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    Kerry Washington is not one to mince words, especially when she’s performing eight nights a week on Broadway, feeling under the weather, and yet still has the fortitude to engage in a frank conversation about gender power dynamics in front of hundreds of people.

    During the opening keynote of the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York City today, the Scandal star was asked about what she’s learned from working with some of the most powerful women in entertainment and elsewhere. One name that came up was Anita Hill, whom Washington played in the HBO movie Confirmation—which focuses on Hill’s sexual harassment allegation against U.S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas in the early 1990s. The real-life Hill worked as a consultant on the movie.

    “Anita Hill taught me what fearlessness really is,” Washington said. “She really taught me what sacrifice looks like, and how to maintain your dignity in the face of absolute absurdity.

    “What Anita did was she gave up her anonymity for the sake of our democracy,” she added.

    The comments are especially resonant in the wake of last month’s very public testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who gave up every last shred of her own anonymity after she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The movie Confirmation, which aired in 2016, took on a salient new relevance as the Ford-Kavanaugh drama played out.

    Washington, a cofounder of the Time’s Up movement, made the comments while speaking on stage with Fast Company‘s editor-in-chief, Stephanie Mehta, about the power of live performance in an age of increasing digital burnout. The actress is currently starring in American Son, a new Broadway play by Christopher Demos-Brown.

    Mehta also asked Washington what she learned from working with Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, a one-woman TV tour de force. “In Shondaland, I learned the magic of what it could be to work at a matriarchy,” Washington said, saying that women in leadership positions often have more progressive ideas about workplace benefits like parental leave.

    “When I told my boss I was pregnant, she literally started jumping up and down with joy,” Washington said. “Her initial response was not, ‘Oh, what’s going to happen with the show?’ She was happy for me first.”


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    Every day more than 115 people in America die from opioids.  A new PSA campaign from Truth Initiative, the Ad Council, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, aims to show that opioid addiction can start in the most unexpected places.

    When Rebekkah was 14 years old, she was a dancer who suffered an ankle injury. Now 26, she is a recovering heroin addict. She also stars in a new PSA chronicling her three-day opioid detox, and telling her story. Not only is it a video PSA, but back in June, her detox was also screened in a large video display on a New York City street corner.

    The goal of the six-minute ad, created by agency 72andSunny, is to highlight the importance of treatment and the fact that opioid dependency can happen after just five days and doesn’t discriminate between age, race, geography, or socioeconomic status.

    “I want the next girl who gets injured dancing to know what the future could hold by the next decision that she makes,” Rebekkah says in the spot. “Because that decision I made to go to the doctors and to not get the surgery, that’s the worst decision I ever made in my whole life.”

    A 60-second version will also be airing on TV and online.


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    Never. Blackface is never okay, Megyn.

    “Back when I was a kid, that was okay–as long as you were a character,” said the daytime talk show host, who once famously insisted that fictional magic gift shaman, Santa Claus, is definitively white.

    Blackface as a Halloween costume may have only been a privately frowned-upon thing when Megyn Kelly was a kid (apparently sometime during the Reconstruction era?), but here’s the thing about Things: They change. Not only do things change, but they change fast. Watch reruns of Saturday Night Live from just 10 years ago, and you’ll hear the word “tranny” thrown around left and right and the very concept of homosexuality deployed as a punchline. The thinking on blackface changed so long and conclusively ago, though, that it’s jarring to hear the White Santas Only Lady pretend there’s still a shred of ambiguity left.

    Blackface is never okay. Not for Halloween. Not because your fraternity thinks black people are inherently hilarious. Not for a comedy sketch made in 2007 when you’re looking back on it in 2018.

    Dress up in Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket if you must. Get a form-fitting head-to-toe Black Panther costume if you have the means. But when you put shoe polish or whatever else on your skin to approximate what you think people of color look like, you are equating blackness with Otherness. You may have Megyn Kelly’s seal of approval, but the majority of polite society has moved forward.


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    Great news for Celine Dion fans and James Cameron enthusiasts: The Titanic is set to sail again. Titanic II, a replica of the original Titanic, will make its first voyage in 2022. It will have room for 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members and have the same cabin layout and decor as the original legendary ocean liner.

    The $500 million ship, which will be built in China, is set to make its maiden voyage from Dubai to Southhampton, U.K in 2022. The Titanic II will then embark on global routes, starting with the exact path of the original ship, traveling from Southampton to New York, minus the small detour to the ocean bottom, presumably. Making things safer for this journey at least: enough lifeboats, a hull that’s welded rather than riveted, and a period of global warming that is melting all the icebergs. (Some scientists argue however that melting ice has led to more dangerous icebergs, not fewer.)

    Tickets aren’t on sale yet, so there’s no word as to whether they are selling round trip tickets or learning from experience and starting with one-way fares.

    The original liner, built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland, sank after hitting an iceberg on April 15, 1912 during its maiden voyage. The plans for the replica liner were first revealed in April 2012 by Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer. Though previously expected to set sail in late 2016, work on the project was halted in 2015 following a dispute with a Chinese conglomerate over royalties.


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    How do you future-proof your career in a technology-first workplace? At some point, someone probably told you to learn how to code.

    But the thing is, succeeding in the future of work is more about computational thinking than practicing computer science. If you want to set yourself apart from the pack, you need to break down problems and become familiar with the way that machines come up with solutions and sequences. Chances are, you’ll be managing teams made up of humans and machines. That requires grasping the intricacies and complexities of human-tech relationships, which in fact, requires a lot of human skills.

    Being scared of AI can hurt us

    Many of us harbor paranoid thoughts of a future where “the robots” take over our jobs. Even when I’m working with tech-savvy people in sectors such as finance and professional services, I often hear a version of this anxiety. Many find the thought of AI unsettling, especially when they see how it disrupts jobs that are considered highly skilled, like auditing and technical design.

    It’s psychologically damaging to have the mindset that we’re always under threat. If we think like this, we inadvertently program our brains to think in a loss-avoidant way, even when the threat isn’t real. It’s fear that causes the mind to think conservatively, and it’s fear that makes us risk-averse and focus on safeguarding the status quo.

    How fear can hurt our way of thinking

    There’s no way we can think as quickly, or efficiently, as a computer if the primal part of our brain–the amygdala–directs us toward protectionism. Fear has been shown to impair function in the hippocampus, a vital part of the brain that helps regulate mood and memory. It is also key to creative function. Any negative impact on this part of the brain is bad news for your career and can cause you to limit the very qualities that will be key to career resilience in the future.

    The experience of using voice recognition software can feel more sci-fi than AI, but it’s helpful to remember that AI is still pretty narrow. A robot that can perform surgery can’t make you a coffee. Even the most sophisticated AI cannot answer the question “is this a cat?” whereas a human toddler would know in an instant. If you’re still feeling skeptical, google the dog versus muffin test. You’d have no problem spotting the difference. AI might yield better accuracy when it comes to dispensing correct prescriptions or making investment decisions, but it is not as good at differentiating a Chihuahua from a chocolate-studded cupcake.

    How we can learn to operate with machines

    The human brain is intricate, complex, and to a large extent, still mostly unknown–although advances in neuroscience and 3D brain scanning have resulted in a greater depth of understanding. Many soft skills rely on a complex and integrative network of human thoughts–such as empathy, the ability to make balanced decisions, and synthesizing complex information. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where AI can compete.

    Perhaps the key is not to try and outdo AI, but to strive to become a new type of “super-human.” As we become molded by the machines we interact with, we can also boost our innate strengths. Here are three ways to start:

    1) Be conscious of our emotions: In days gone by, we thought of emotions as barriers to efficiency and intellectual clarity. Now, brain scans show us that rather than being at the mercy of our feelings, we “select” our emotional responses based on a complex process of pattern recognition and experience. Although this may feel involuntary, it isn’t. Regulating these emotional responses is something we can train ourselves to do, and the more we perceive we are in control of our emotions, the better we are likely to be able to exercise control in practice.

    2) Take cues from our gut: AI bases all its decisions on data reduced to numbers and fed into an algorithm. And even these algorithms were designed by humans and are intrinsically biased. We, humans, have far more subtle, complex, and sophisticated approaches available to us. Begin by noticing your gut reaction to circumstances, and see how it feels. We can hone our intuition to override these shortcuts through journaling and reflection.

    3) Listen like an optimist: Many of us struggle to compromise and collaborate at work. Aim to practice active listening rather than winning an argument. When we’re locked in disagreement, our brains work against us, “zoning out” areas of agreement and homing in on perceived threats. Good mediators start in the common ground and work outwards, rather than drilling into the areas of conflict.


    Dr. Tara Swart is a neuroscientist, leadership coach, author, and medical doctor. Follow her on Twitter at @TaraSwart. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life.


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