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    Which brands are hailed the winners and losers after the holiday shopping season is over? Fashion resale website ThredUP gets a pretty good look at what consumers regret buying–or receiving underneath the Christmas tree. Every January, the online thrift shop receives roughly 250,000 new-with-tags items – 60% more than during the rest of the year.

    So before you hit up Black Friday sales this week, take a look at what regularly makes the toss bin:

    • Victoria’s Secret: Talk of consumers tiring of the “male gaze” is just one issue plaguing the lingerie brand. Turns out its swimsuits are some of the most “regretted” purchases. ThredUP reports a 208% rise of swimwear sent unworn, with tags still attached.
    • Lululemon: Perhaps when it comes to athleisure wear, simpler is better? Lululemon’s cutout shirts saw a 185% rise in listings.
    • J.Crew: What was once a beloved brand worn by the First Lady has devolved into a struggling brand with revolving leadership. ThredUP’s listings demonstrate its falling popularity–a whopping 442% surge of new-with-tags J.Crew cardigans post-holiday.
    • Christian Louboutin: Maybe those red soles are a little overhyped? There was a 106% increase of Christian Louboutin heels purged after the holidays. Second to that were Nike sneakers.
    • Banana Republic: Their flirty holiday dresses might seem like perfect cocktail attire, but they are seemingly untouched. Listings of Banana Republic “ruffle dresses” soared by 225%.

    So what are consumers willing to hang on to (or at the very least, wear once)? ThreadUP also analyzed the 2018 brands with the least amount of regret. These include items without tags attached, meaning they at some point saw the light of day.

    • Everlane: The direct-to-consumer brand beloved for its transparent pricing was dubbed  the least regretted buy two years in a row. It was the No. 1 brand sent to ThredUP without tags attached.
    • Gucci and Prada: These high-fashion brands are well worn and sought after.
    • REI and L.L. Bean: ThredUP says giftees love eco brands with an emphasis on outdoor pursuits.
    • UGG: The early-2000s trend is back in action. UGG Australia, known for its snuggly footwear,  made the top 10 list.
    • Citizens of Humanity: Premium designer denim is alive and well in the resale market. On average, Citizens of Humanity jeans can cost near $150, but fans can get them closer to $30 on ThredUP.

    For more information on the most and least regretted brands, real the full ThredUp report.


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    Frigid temperatures are expected in much of the Northeast on Thursday, but winds won’t be so strong that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can’t roll as scheduled.

    Local broadcaster NY1 says its forecast calls for sustained 17-mile-per-hour winds, with gusts of up to 28 miles per hour. Safety standards say the parade’s 16 balloons, featuring larger-than-life versions of cartoon characters like Charlie Brown and the Grinch, can’t fly if sustained winds are stronger than 23 miles per hour or gusts exceed 34 miles per hour.

    The current standards went into effect after people were injured by falling debris in 2005 when an M&M’s-themed balloon got entangled with a streetlight.

    There’s also a chance New York could see a record low temperature on Thanksgiving Day: Accuweather is predicting a morning low temperature of 21 degrees and an afternoon high of 27. The coldest Thanksgiving on record in New York City was in 1871, when the temperature reached a low of 15 degrees and a high of only 22 degrees.

    That Thanksgiving fell on November 30, a date later in the year than Thanksgiving could ever fall today. At one time, the holiday took place on the last Thursday in November. Now, it takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month. This year’s date of Nov. 22 is the earliest the holiday can take place. Earlier Thanksgivings are usually seen as a gift to retailers, since they mean a longer holiday shopping season.


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    TRAILER

    Join Fast Company editor Kc Ifeanyi for in-depth explorations on the creative process with some of the most innovative thinkers across film, TV, music, and beyond.

    EPISODE 1: David Sedaris

    Where you just see a slice of pizza on the ground, David Sedaris sees an essay in the making.

    EPISODE 2: Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch

    The creative tag team behind Netflix’s GLOW is the definition of work spouse goals. In this episode, Flahive and Mensch explain how they’ve fine-tuned their collaborative dynamic to an art.

    EPISODE 3: Max Richter

    What makes Max Richter unique is that his creativity is matched only by his ambition, which lends a sense fearlessness to his work that, hopefully, will fuel your own creativity.

    EPISODE 4: Terence Nance

    Tumble into the mind of visionary filmmaker Terence Nance, whose new HBO show, Random Acts of Flyness, is like nothing you’ve seen before–guaranteed.

    EPISODE 5: Lauren Greenfield

    Excess. Greed. Addiction. The American Dream isn’t what it used to be–and Lauren Greenfield’s new doc Generation Wealth takes a closer look to find out why.

    EPISODE 6: Regina King

    We all know and love Regina Hall from her comedic work in films like Girls Trip or Scary Movie. But for her latest role in the indie dramedy Support the Girls she’s pushing the boundaries of our expectations and her abilities as an actor. Regina breaks down how she approaches her characters and teases some upcoming projects she’s been writing and producing.

    EPISODE 7: Nicola Formichetti

    From Lady Gaga’s famous meat dress to spearheading the creative vision of Mugler, Diesel, and Uniqlo to starting his own label Nicopanda, Nicola Formichetti has cemented himself within the fashion industry as a foremost stylist and artistic director.

    EPISODE 8: Roman Coppola

    As the son of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Roman’s career seemed on track to follow directly in his father’s footsteps–but that hasn’t been quite the case.

    EPISODE 9: Jackie Aina

    Long before “diversity” was a buzzword for beauty brands, Jackie was championing dark-skinned women and men who never saw themselves represented in the makeup industry.

    EPISODE 10: Tracey Ullman

    Tracey Ullman has made a successful career being just about anyone but herself. The Emmy-winning legend has spent more than three decades on TV slipping into the skins of everyone from Dame Judi Dench to German chancellor Angela Merkel. And now in the third season of her HBO show, cleverly titled Tracey Ullman’s Show, she’s grappling post-brexit, post-Trump dystopia by being more topical than ever. But not every personality she takes on is a perfect fit. In our conversation, Tracey explains how her approach to comedy has evolved and how she makes her most difficult sketches work.

    BONUS LIVE EPISODE: Larry Wilmore

    Kc sits down with comedian, writer, and producer Larry Wilmore for a very special and very live episode of Creative Conversation, straight from the Fast Company Innovation Festival.


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    The U.S. Army has awarded its marketing account to Omnicom’s DDB, a contract worth $4 billion over the next 10 years. According to a statement from the Department of Defense, the bid was led by DDB’s Chicago office, but Ad Agereports that the Army account will be serviced by a new entity, much like how the agency built We Are Unlimited for its McDonald’s client. The Army agency will be called Team DDB, led by DDB Chicago, and will include personnel from other Omnicom shops, including OMD, Critical Mass, Annalect, The Marketing Arm, FleishmanHillard, Fluent 360, and Rapp.

    While there is no doubt champagne bottles will be popping across the Omnicom network this week, incumbent McCann is continuing the fight to hold on to at least part of the account, following the protest it filed with the Government Accountability Office earlier this year. That protest was denied last week, but the Interpublic agency is filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

    McCann had the account for the last 12 years, but in 2017 was accused of compromising the account review process because of a personal relationship between James Ortiz, director of marketing at the Army Marketing and Research Group, and a former McCann executive. Then an internal Army audit, released this past summer, revealed millions in wasteful spending. Adweek acquired emails that had Army Marketing and Research execs accusing McCann of overcharging.

    The latest Army ad–created by McCann–launched last week, part of its overall “Warriors Wanted” campaign.


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    It started with a bang. A big one. In 2015, REI announced that not only was it closing all its retail stores on the biggest shopping day of the year, giving every employee the day off to enjoy the outdoors, but it was also encouraging everyone else to do the same. Soon the idea of #OptOutside spread like wildfire, with the brand’s social media impressions skyrocketing by 7,000%, with 2.7 billion media impressions in 24 hours. Overall in that first year, the campaign attracted 6.7 billion media impressions, 1.2 billion social impressions, and got more than 1.4 million people to spend the Black Friday outdoors. More than 150 other companies joined REI to close their doors, with hundreds of state parks opening up for free. It ultimately won the Cannes Lions Titanium Grand Prix, one of the ad industry’s highest annual honors.  So how do you follow all that up?

    Now in its fourth year, it may not get the coverage it initially sparked, but #OptOutside has continued to grow, expanding its participating partners, and the number of state and federal parks. In fact, #OptOutside has grown beyond just one Friday in November to become a content hub for the brand, including resources for finding hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities near you, as well as How-To tips and tricks for your adventuring needs. REI chief customer officer Ben Steele says the mission has evolved.

    “When we started this four years ago, it was that consumerism was spinning out of control, in a frenzy of consumption–I’ve got to have it, I need it, I’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go get it,” Steele says. “This year it feels like the cultural context has changed. Now choice is something we talk a lot about. Choice in terms of the notion of our relationship with technology—are we using it to springboard toward the things we care about, or is it distracting us from those things?”

    [Screenshot: REI.com]
    Back in 2015, #OptOutside attracted more than 1.4 million people and 170 outdoor companies, nonprofits, and organizations to participate, and over the last three years that’s grown to 15 million people and 700 organizations. Two new partnerships are taking the notion of how the outdoors can positively affect our lives to a new level. First, REI teamed with Trust for Public Land on the Urban Outdoor Access Analysis, a look at the Top 50 American cities that have the best access to the outdoors. Did you know 74% of people in Las Vegas have access to a park within a 10-minute walk from their house? Or that there are 21.9 acres of public land per person within a 60-minute drive? Vegas, baby.

    The second partnership is an ongoing research collaboration with the University of Washington, in which REI has invested more than $1 million in studying the health effects of spending time outdoors. “We all have the anecdotes of how we feel better after spending time outside, but we wanted to move toward some empirical evidence around the physical, emotional, and societal benefits of being outside,” says Steele. “The university is going to develop that work, publish it through our online storytelling portal The Co-Op Journal, and in doing so, we want to look at what a potential prescription for time outdoors looks like, as part of the solution for anxiety, depression, or PTSD. What does it look like for insurance companies looking at time outdoors as a factor in a healthy lifestyle?”

    This is about moving $OptOutside past mere holiday status. Or as Steele puts it, “It’s about getting $OptOutside beyond a single day, and how it can impact our lives overall.”


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    On a Tuesday morning in November, a crowd of immaculately groomed bloggers gathers at 8 a.m. inside a Sephora store to munch on tiny avocado toasts, their lipstick never budging. They’re there to listen to a pitch from Google on why they should make room for the company’s new Home Hub smart display on their vanity. Google has teamed up with Sephora to show off the device’s usefulness as a way to call up tutorial videos on YouTube.

    Before the presentation starts, Sephora’s beauty director Myisha Sewell, dressed in what looks like black-and-white polka-dot silk pajamas, carefully arranges an array of compacts and liners next to a blush-colored Google Home Hub on a pedestal that will serve as a demo vanity.

    “The fact that this is hands-free is actually pretty great,” she says. “You’re not going to get makeup all over your phone, you’re not going to have to balance your laptop on top of your bathroom cabinet and have a disaster happen. It’s something really easy that you can integrate into your life.” Yoice control via the Google Assistant–new this year inside of YouTube–not only pulls up videos and plays and pauses on demand, but can also fast forward to the right spot.

    Sewell begins by asking the Assistant for an eyebrow tutorial by Sephora. While she’s keen to promote the Sephora brand as part of this marketing stunt, the beauty of putting YouTube on your vanity is that it offers a full library of makeup tutorials by both amateurs and influencers.

    In fact, tutorials of all sorts are a big driver for YouTube. A smidge more than half of all users say YouTube is an important source for learning how to do something they’ve never done before, according to a recent survey from Pew Research. The data suggests that tutorials, more than time killers or product reviews, lure people to the platform.

    That’s why it wasn’t particularly surprising when, in October, Google decided to put $20 million into educational videos. When that news was announced, there was much fanfare about the company trying to fill out its platform with content that brands will feel safe putting ads against. Prior to the announcement, a story in the U.K.’s Sunday Times reported that brands were seeing their ads alongside bigoted and extremist content. Of course, Google would want to distance itself from its worst content, but educational videos are a big draw unto themselves.

    In 2017, YouTube videos with “how-to” in the title garnered more than a billion watch hours, up 75% from 2015. People conducted 81 million searches for beauty how-to’s alone in the last year. On their own, makeup gurus Nikki De Jager and James Charles have 11 and 10 million subscribers, respectively.

    At home on my vanity, a sea-foam-colored Google Home Hub fits in neatly among a long, skinny wooden jewelry box and an old green gift box my mother decoupaged with pictures of Bob Dylan when she was a teenager. I’m fairly inconsistent when it comes to makeup. Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don’t. When it comes to my prowess, I’m somewhere in the middle: I don’t understand foundation, but have mastered a cat eye.

    I recently purchased a new lipstick, and thought the Home Hub’s arrival would be a good opportunity to actually learn how to apply it. I call upon Google to find me a video for how to put on lipstick. In the video that Google chooses, the woman doesn’t use lip liner. Instead she takes a small brush, dabs it on the lipstick, and then outlined her lips using the brush before filling in her lips with the stick. I learn something new. I also learn that you can use concealer to touch up lipstick mistakes afterwards—a new favorite trick.

    There are other things I would love to learn about besides makeup, like how to retile a kitchen backsplash or reassemble a coffee grinder (don’t ask). Unfortunately, the Home Hub is tethered to an electrical outlet, so it cannot easily accompany me around the house as I look for new projects to involve it in. (This is probably where Google would recommend I get more than one of the $150 device.)

    More than tutorials

    There are, of course, other things the Home Hub can do on my vanity. It can remind me what’s on my calendar for the day or tell me about the weather or traffic, though that’s all relatively standard fare for home assistants. I can also shop–say to pick up a new blush when I’m running out. However, shopping is limited to shops on Google Express, which means that choices are skimpy. Sephora, for example, doesn’t sell its products through there.

    I searched for a certain Stila blush. Google Assistant said it couldn’t find the one I was looking for, and then told me, wistfully, that it’s still learning. When it found another item I asked about, a generic foundation, it was hard to get the right shade. Product details were also scant, but the “add to cart” button was front and center.

    I attempted to buy the same products on Amazon’s Echo. Its Alexa assistant was able to find the Stila blush, though it couldn’t find the exact shade I wanted. So it prompted me to look inside the Alexa app to make more finite decisions. Inside the app, I could swap the shade from its default to the one I was looking for.

    Though Alexa can help me buy makeup, even the screen-equipped Echo Show isn’t very good at teaching me to put it on, since it has access to YouTube only through a browser-based experience with no voice control. Google’s Home Hub has the advantage here for sure, though, Facebook’s similarly styled video messaging device, Portal, also has YouTube access (and Alexa). While these devices are not all specifically jockeying for the most well-lit spot on the vanity, they all want to be a part of the home, and there may not be space for them all.

    Back at Sephora, after the presentation is over, bloggers hover around a mirrored bar, inquiring about the free makeovers compliments of Google and Sephora. A few hang back, clustering around the Home Hub and asking questions. A representative for Google again shows off the voice-command capabilities, shuffling one video forward and back, and then telling the Assistant to pause. “I also ask her silly questions,” said the representative.

    “Is this compatible with Alexa?” one of the bloggers asks. Unfortunately no, the Google Home Hub is not compatible with Alexa, answers the rep.

    “Oh well, we’re an Alexa household,” the blogger says.


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    Amazon may rule the retail universe in the 21st century, but Macy’s is still running the show when it comes to beloved holiday traditions.

    The 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off today (Thursday, November 22) in New York City, armed with a fleet of giant balloons that includes classic favorites like Charlie Brown and the Grinch, to more recent additions like Spongebob, Pikachu, and even that weird elf parents use to keep their kids on the straight and narrow. You can find a full list of balloons here.

    The parade is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET, with a route that takes it from West 77th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side all the way down to Herald Square, where Macy’s most famous location lives.

    As usual, NBC will air coverage of the parade, but since cord-cutters like holiday traditions, too, I’ve rounded up some ways to live-stream the event online. Enjoy the miracle!

    • Verizon 360 Live: This is probably your easiest bet. In partnership with NBC, Verizon does a 360-view live stream on its YouTube page. I’ve embedded the video below. You can also find it here.
    • Streaming services: A number of TV streaming services offer live access to NBC, including Sling TVPlayStation VueHulu With Live TVYouTube TV, and DirecTV Now. Some of these are offering free trials as we speak.
    • NBC’s website and mobile apps: You can watch NBC coverage live on its website and mobile apps, but you’ll need a login with a cable or satellite TV provider.


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    Here’s a statistic that many people in need might feel thankful about this holiday season: Americans are giving record amounts to charity, and volunteering more time than ever. But it’s not all Americans. In fact, it’s fewer people than ever–they’re just doing a whole lot more than everyone else.

    “The amount of dollars and the number of volunteer hours is hitting historic highs, and at the same time we’re hitting historic lows in the percentage of Americans who are actually giving and volunteering,” says Robert Grimm, director of the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland. So maybe everyone should just be grateful there are super charitable folks around to pick up the slack.

    [Image: Do Good Institute]
    Or maybe not. “That’s masking an unsettling trend, which is less and less Americans are actually engaging in their communities every year,” he says.

    [Image: Do Good Institute]
    A new Do Good Institute report that Grimm coauthored explains the dangers of this particular philanthropic paradox. Americans gave a record total of $410 billion in 2017, and about 8.5 billion in cumulative hours to various causes in 2015–the most recent year that data was available. But in recent years, only an estimated 56% of Americans donated annually, far less than the 67% that did so at the turn of the millennium. Just under 25% of Americans volunteered regularly, which is also less than the national peak of about 29% shortly after 9/11.

    While a variety of factors (including, quite possibly, being overwhelmed at the broad range of need in the country today) might explain this stratification in giving, economics could also be a cause. In the U.S., wealth is increasingly concentrated at the very top of the socioeconomic spectrum, while many working-class people have not seen their wages or wealth grow in the last several decades. Perhaps, fewer people are giving money and time because they simply have less of it. Tellingly, in 2017, 52% of donations came from households earning over $200,000 per year.

    As Grimm sees it, the division in giving reflects other rifts in American culture. “When less residents [within a community] are actually engaged in behavior such as giving and volunteering in particular, there’s greater social isolation and less trust in each other,” he says. “There’s a good deal of research that shows that regularly engaging in these kinds of charitable behaviors results in greater physical and mental health,” Grimm says. Participating in causes and volunteering brings people together, and as people opt out of doing these things, they miss opportunities for connection around common goals.

    [Image: Do Good Institute]
    Similarly concerning is the effect these trends may have on charitable organizations themselves. Many nonprofits may just be looking at their bottom line or top volunteers, and not realizing that they’re spread thin. The fewer key contributors or supporters you have for your cause, the less stable your organization is if several unexpectedly disappear.

    The Do Good Institute’s findings come from an analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census (BLS) data of 55,000 households between 2002 and 2015. This covers 215 metro areas across all 50 states. Volunteer-wise, the decline is particularly steep in rural areas and the suburbs–places that were once thought of as bastions for social support.

    Obviously there are outliers, but here’s what the average American giver looks like: Most Americans who volunteer do so for about two hours a week, according to BLS data. The average donor contributes about $2,500 annually, according to Indiana University. In short, if a whole bunch of people just gave a little more instead of nothing, they’d help a lot more people, and probably make their own life feel more complete.

    To that end, Grimm suggests that more communities think about how to instill generosity as a value in their own kids, so that giving becomes a lifelong habit. He thinks many nonprofits need to work harder at keeping supporters engaged year-round, not just during the holidays, and that social entrepreneurs recognize the inherent value of founding more nonprofit and civic startups.

    Either way, Americans may want to consider the benefits of sustained charitable engagement over time. “If you exercise, once a month, you’re probably not going to experience a lot of health benefits,” Grimm says. “It’s very similar if you volunteer once or twice a year.”


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    Thanksgiving–it’s a time to eat delicious food, and count your blessings with the people who are closest to you. But what happens when pleasant chit-chats turn into disagreements? After all, we’re still living in a divisive landscape. When author and researcher Brené Brown asked 60 graduate students whether they had similar beliefs to their grandparents, only 15 said yes. “The remainder described everything from mild embarrassment to mortification when it comes to their family members’ politics,” Brown writes.

    There are the rare times where family members with divergent beliefs end up seeing eye to eye on issues that they’ve been arguing about. But more often than not, they continue to disagree. When those issues are contentious, conversations can turn ugly, and in turn, strain relationships. Holidays like Thanksgiving become a source of anxiety, rather than an opportunity to spend some precious time together.

    It doesn’t have to be like this. You can be civil with a loved one, even when you don’t share their political views. Next time you find a conversation turning ugly, follow one of these steps below.

    1. Understand the source of disagreement

    People have different motivations for holding various beliefs and coming to a particular conclusion. Until you understand what those underlying reasons are, it will be difficult to have any sort of conciliatory interaction (let alone come to an agreement). Brain scientist Bob Nease gave an example in a previous article for Fast Companyhe and his wife could not agree on whether they should bring an umbrella to the store. To have a productive conversation about this topic, they first needed to figure out why they came to the decisions they did. Is it because they disagreed on the chance of rain? Or because they have different views on what they want an umbrella for? For example, one might not be comfortable with a light drizzle, whereas the other might be happy to tolerate anything less than a downpour.

    Nease wrote that even if they came to a different conclusion, this exercise would have allowed them to “agree on the underlying issue about which [they’re] disagreeing.” The same can apply to political issues. When you seek to understand where the other person is coming from, you’re less likely to draw false assumptions about their character. You’ll also be in a better position to explain your point of view without directly attacking theirs–because you can see things from their side.

    2. See it as an opportunity to hear another person’s story

    It’s difficult to be civil when two people are set on winning an argument. Lennon Flowers, the founder of The Dinner Party–an organization that brings together those who have experienced significant loss at potluck dinners–previously toldFast Company, “We shy away from our feelings–we want to stick with academic arguments and have the long set of bullet points that’s going to be what we use to sway the other person to think they’re wrong. No humans make decisions that way. We think we rationalize our way into decisions, but when you get into it, we make gut responses.”

    You won’t have any chance of getting the other person to see your point of view if you’re not willing to do the work yourself. One way to trick your brain to do this? Ask them to tell a personal story when you’re debating a sensitive issue. As Flowers said, it’s a lot more difficult to “attack” someone’s account of their lived-in experience.

    Nease said that when you open up your mind to learning something new, the discourse moves from a zero-sum game to one of cooperation. “Disagreement doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Don’t confuse outward behavior with underlying intentions . . . As long as you’re open to learning something from somebody who sees things differently than you do, you’ll get through the holidays without any broken dishes or hurt feelings.”

    3. If you have to criticize, make sure you direct it at the idea, not the person

    No one likes to be told they’re wrong, and very few people respond well to an attack on their character. Yet we see this kind of criticism all the time. Politics have become deeply personal, and as a result, it has become more difficult to separate a person’s point of view from their character. Fast Company contributor and speaking coach Anett Grant suggested in a previous article that when in doubt, stay away from phrases with “you” or “your,” and use “I” statements. For example, rather than saying, “How could you possibly come to that conclusion,?” say, “I struggle with that conclusion.” This allows you to center your conversation on the subject matter itself, rather than the person who holds a different opinion to yours.

    4. Embrace the disagreements

    Yes, disagreements and conflicts can be productive. As Harvard Business School’s Amy Edmondson wrote in her book Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economygreat solutions often come out of synthesizing ideas that are not always aligned with one another. For example, Edmondson cited that when team members disagree about product design, it’s a productive disagreement, because it allows them to come up with a better model.

    Next time you find yourself having an argument about someone who disagrees with your stance on an issue, you can tell yourself that by listening to and acknowledging what they have to say, you’re gaining a greater understanding of the topic, and in turn sharpening your own argument. When you don’t see your differences as something you have to fight, being civil becomes that much easier.

    5. Prepare for the conversation

    Craig Dowden, a positive psychology coach and the author of the upcoming book, Do Good to Lead Well: The Science and Practice of Positive Leadership, tells Fast Company that ultimately, the key to achieving civility despite personal disagreements is preparation. If you know ahead of time that there are people who like to bring up contentious issues or talk about sensitive topics that might trigger you, have a strategy to steer the conversation away. Dowden recommends saying something along the lines of, “I appreciate your passion, but I feel like the temperature is getting higher in the room–perhaps we can talk about something else?”

    And if the person insists on voicing the arguments, gently ask them, “I appreciate that you really want to talk about it, but I’ve mentioned multiple times that I’m uncomfortable. What keeps bringing you back to this topic?”

    Framing the conversation this way takes you away from getting into an argumentative space–because the person can see that you’re curious about what they have to say. Dowden says, “Just because I ask questions doesn’t mean I agree with someone. Unfortunately you can get into the, “I want to be right” space. I always ask, Do you want to be right, or do you want to make progress?”

    If it’s the latter, Dowden says, you have to continue to be curious. Remind yourself of the cost of pursuing these kinds of conversations, and know that anytime you turn to a place of where you want to change someone’s mind, you’re more likely to end up in a hostile place–which makes civility more difficult.


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    When I was first diagnosed in 2004 with testicular cancer, I hadn’t given the concept of work-life balance much thought. I was employed by a publicly held company and putting in long hours. To put it nicely, I was a career-oriented man. This all changed after my diagnosis.

    The great company and understanding boss suddenly became less supportive. It was made immediately clear that I would need to work while undergoing treatment and that I needed to schedule my therapy sessions outside of work hours.

    The dynamics between employees who worked for me changed as well. It was like a big elephant in the room that left many wondering if I could still lead.

    In the end, I was left alone to figure out how to strike a balance between what I needed to do to maintain my leadership position and what I needed to do to ensure my recovery. I quickly learned that my company was not equipped to afford me the flexibility I needed to focus on my health and sanity. So we went our separate ways.

    Fourteen years later, I’m married with three elementary-school-aged daughters. Things don’t look quite as bleak as they once did. While I’m in remission, I still have to make time for trips to L.A. to have hormone pellets surgically implanted into my body for ongoing hormone treatments every 8 to 10 weeks, which greatly reduces my risk of getting Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart failure. Fortunately, I work for myself now, building companies from the ground up. That allows me to integrate my needs into work-life with little resistance.

    But not everybody has the luxury of being their own boss, so here is my best advice for succeeding and thriving during treatment and beyond.

    Be transparent

    High stress levels are associated with decreased white blood cell count. So you don’t need additional stress at work. Be proactive rather than reactive so that you remain in control of the situation.

    After being diagnosed with cancer, deciding who to tell and what to say can be one of the hardest decisions to make. You might think that telling your boss about your illness could put your job at risk. You might also think that sharing the news with the employees who work for you may undermine their confidence in you. The reality is, you might be right. But don’t let that stop you. This is your new reality and the sooner you navigate these issues head-on, the better.

    Learn your rights as an employee. The law prevents employers from discriminating against workers with disabilities, and that includes illnesses such as cancer. That being said, the law does not oblige employers to accommodate for missed work. That’s why it’s important that you become familiar with company policies regarding these circumstances and start banking holidays for the unexpected.

    It’s also helpful to identify someone who works with you in whom you can confide and who will also provide extra support when you need it most. I had several colleagues over the years who covered for me more than once on calls I couldn’t take because I didn’t feel well.

    If you do end up losing your job because of your cancer treatment, be sure to find a career that best suits you and your new lifestyle when you eventually return to the workforce. Find something that fits your schedule, and something you love doing in a place you can really thrive.

    Be giving

    There’s no sugar-coating it: Cancer treatments leave you exhausted and depressed. During the course of my treatment I was offered a number of prescriptions to help me cope, but ultimately I found the act of helping others to be the best way to counterbalance the emotional challenges I faced. Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as saying, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

    I’ve been so lucky to find a career in the business of serving others. The strategy of building a giving component into my business plans has allowed those companies to really take off, which has allowed me to start even more companies that give back.

    I can’t begin to explain what this has done for my quality of life. You may find it hard to stop thinking about yourself. You may even think, “Why should I think about anyone else at a time like this?” But it can be surprisingly therapeutic to direct your attention elsewhere.

    Rely on others

    There is no shame in accepting the assistance of others. You wouldn’t want your pride to get in the way of recovery. Family, friends, and coworkers will be your most valuable asset.

    If you can, identify one person on your team who can be your backbone. Maybe they can lighten your workload by sharing some assignments. Or maybe they can just be your sounding board when you feel really stressed. Cancer is an awkward topic and not something you talk about with just anyone. Find people you can trust. 

    Embrace the future

    These days, I find myself living by the calendar. It’s filled with business meetings and calls, medical appointments, school activities, my share of the household chores, domestic and global travel, and the occasional date night with my wife. In some ways, nothing has changed. But in some ways, everything has changed. You have to be ready for anything that cancer throws at you, whether that means working less or getting a new job entirely. Embrace the future, because who knows, this might be the start of something positive.

    Scott Petinga is the CEO of The Scott Petinga Group, where he is a pioneer in the development of businesses that make a lasting impact on society. He is the founder of the TH!NK DIFFERENT Foundation, the Fairy Foundation, the Center of Advocacy for Cancer of the Testes International (CACTI), and a volunteer mentor with Imerman Angels of Chicago. He lives in the Minneapolis metro with his wife and three pretty amazing daughters.


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    Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday (and its counterpart Green Monday–the second Monday in December) were all dreamed up by retailers to raise the revenue quotient as they slash prices and shout about the dwindling amount of days left to shop.

    But conscious consumers are looking for a better reason than discounts to support brands. Recent consumer research by Walmart found that 90% of female customers are willing to go out of their way to buy a product from a woman-owned business. The good news is that they aren’t that hard to find. Over the last decade, there was an increase of women-owned firms totaling 3.5 million, according to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. A large majority (78%) of these new businesses are owned by women of color. As of 2016, there were an estimated 1.9 million African-American women-owned firms employing 376,500 workers and generating $51.4 billion in revenues.

    Here’s a rundown of some of the founder/owners we’ve come across this year and the inspiration behind their business ideas.

    Apparel

    Sarah LaFleur is a 34-year-old entrepreneur who partnered with designer Miyako Nakamura and Narie Foster to start the workwear brand MM.LaFleur for women who “hate to shop.”

    Evelyn Frison set out to re-engineer professional women’s pants by founding Argent, which currently offers four kinds of trousers with stylish and functional pockets.

    Colleen Winter and her mother founded the affordable fashion brand Lulus based in Chico, California and has recently been working to help her over 700 employees, many of whom, have lost everything in the “Camp Fire” in northern part of the state to provide shelter and childcare, deliver clothing, staples, and disaster guidance, including important insurance and employment information, to ensure the families get the immediate help they need.

    Maggie Winter, Jac Cameron, and Max Bonbrest are the founders of AYR, a cult womenswear label that serves up jeans, blazers, button-down shirts, and long coats with a menswear-inspired approach to classic construction.

    Beauty

    Miko Branch, is the African-American entrepreneur, CEO and cofounder of Miss Jessie’s line of natural hair care products who developed them by experimenting mixing together natural homemade ingredients in her kitchen and eventually created a multi-million dollar brand.

    Gregg Refrew, launched Beautycounter because of her passion for beauty and hygiene products free of 1,500 ingredients that are either harmful or questionable. The brand employs a team of scientists to self-regulate its offerings, and its founder’s goal is to help educate consumers and demand better regulation of the industry.

    Coffee

    Victoria Lynden is the founder and CEO of Kohana Coffee who was not only the first roaster to bring shelf-stable cold brew to the U.S. market, but also exclusively buys organic, fair traded beans from female growers.

    View this post on Instagram

    Our Founder and CEO @CateLuzio left her successful two-decade career in banking to launch Luminary. Empowering women has always been her passion. In her career, Cate ran several global women’s initiatives and events, mentored multiple young women outside of her company and coached young leaders on their career trajectory. Helping women advance in their career was important to her and she wanted to have a larger impact on the system and create advancement for all women, no matter their seniority or industry. Luminary is a result of her vision and efforts to help other women – not only female Founders and entrepreneurs, but also corporate women. We couldn't be more excited to start this new chapter and impact the future of work for women. When women support each other, amazing things happen. ???? #ComeSitAtOurTable #BeALuminary ????: @sophiesahara .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #femalefounders #boss #bossbabe #ladyboss #girlboss #makers #coworking #coworkingspace #communityspace #womenarethefuture #CommunityOverCompetition #womenunite #womensupportingwomen #womensupportwomen #communityovercompetition #InThisTogether #womenwithambition #createcultivate #professionalwomen #buildingbossladies #womeninbusiness #womenwholead #luminaries #feminista #empoweredwomen #empoweringwomen #womenpower #girlpower #bosslady

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    Coworking Memberships

    Cate Luzio is the founder and CEO of Luminary, a coworking collaboration hub for women who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks based in New York City.

    Audrey Gelman is the cofounder of the Wing, which has three locations in New York and D.C., with six more on the way (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Brooklyn, London, and Toronto) and is branching out into women-centric media via its own magazine.

    Food

    Dana Loia, quit her day job as a magazine photo editor and became an entrepreneur and pastry magician at Dana’s Bakery. She’s now cooking up macarons in unexpected flavors.

    Christine Marcus, who is the founder and CEO of Alchemista, a corporate catering concierge business (located in DC and Boston) that serves tech companies and startups.

    Skincare

    Sara Panton is the CEO and cofounder of Vitruvi, a skincare brand that lets you create your own, customized face oils.

    Tata Harper founded her eponymous all-natural luxury skin care line in 2007 that uses clean ingredients like Spanish lavender extract to help reduce wrinkle formation and retinoic acid from rosehip seed oil (instead of Retinol) to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

    View this post on Instagram

    good health in hand ???? #takeyourvitamins

    A post shared by Ritual (@ritual) on

    Health and Wellness

    Kat Schneider is the founder and CEO of Ritual which makes multivitamins free of any additives for women as part of the “clean label” movement.

    Chrystle and Catherine Cu, are cofounders of Cocofloss. Chrystle, a dentist, was adamant about eschewing the Gore-Tex fiber commonly used in most floss brands and swapping it for one that has a flavorful sponge-like texture composed of hundreds of expanding microfiber filaments.

    Olivia Esquivel is the cofounder of Southern Pressed Juicery and Wildcrafted, the latter which makes adaptogenic compounds designed to boost brain power, energy, and skin health with ingredients like lion’s mane, eleuthera, rhodiola, and holy basil.

    Intimate Apparel

    Michelle Cordeiro Grant, a former Victoria’s Secret executive, launched her own lingerie startup, Lively in 2016 and continues to use loyal fans wearing the latest products, instead of professional models.

    Bree McKeen is the 37-year-old former VC, who is now the founder and CEO of intimate apparel company Evelyn & Bobbie. The company’s signature wireless bra was hatched with the help of an engineer in response to her hatred of underwires and uncomfortable straps on bras.

    Joanna Griffiths is the founder and CEO of five-year-old brand Knix, a purveyor of intimates with functional details, like panties that absorb period blood or incontinence leaks, and bras that provide support without any wires.

    Stationery

    Anna Bond is the 33-year-old Floridian who lived in an apartment above her in-laws’ garage until 2012 when she started Rifle Paper Company and subsequently built it a multimillion-dollar card and letter business.

    Cheryl Sutherland is the African American entrepreneur who started PleaseNotes with two products–a journal and sticky notes printed with positive affirmations–in 2016 using her personal savings and credit cards.


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    Tis the season to start giving. After you give thanks for Netflix and Seamless and the roof over your head, remember that there are many others less fortunate than you–people you can’t help just by sharing your HBO Go password.

    In the spirit of giving back, we’ve put together a list of some worthy organizations that are helping to make a little joy, spread a little light, and fight back against the overwhelming awfulness in the world. If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart that’s not on the list–or you just want to help people recovering from wildfires–do give to those instead.

    However, before you open your wallet or your PayPal account, remember to do a little research on sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator to make sure your hard-earned dolla dolla bills are going to a good cause. And remember to brag to your accountant about your good deeds, because many charitable donations can be deducted on your taxes, too.

    1. UNICEF is certainly a behemoth in the charity world, but its status is well deserved as it works to ensure that every child has a childhood. Their relief workers are one of the first on the ground after natural disasters and human-created disasters reach the headlines (Yemen, for instance), and they are also on the ground helping children in areas that rarely make the news, like the crisis in the Lake Chad region where children are starving to death. Donate here.
    2. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends Animal Society has helped reduce the number of pets killed in U.S. animal shelters by 91% by leading the no-kill movement in the hopes of making every shelter no-kill by 2025. If you’re looking to adopt a pet, visit a Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Salt Lake City or one of the almost 2,000 rescue organizations and shelters in its No More Homeless Pets Network. Donate here.
    3. The Birthday Party Project throws birthday parties for children living in homeless and transitional living shelters, helping create a special day for kids in bleak circumstances complete with cupcakes, balloons, gifts, and plenty of good vibes. This isn’t just for adorable tots, though, but helps kids all the way through 21 years of age, because kids of all ages need a little sunshine in their lives. Donate here.
    4. As the Trump administration tries to legislate them out of legal protections, trans people undoubtedly need a little support, and that’s where the Trans Lifeline comes in. The hotline is a national trans-led organization dedicated to helping curb the alarmingly high trans suicide rate and improve the quality of trans lives everywhere with direct service, advocacy, and education. Donate here.
    5. The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide works around the world to try and save our planet through legal means, thanks to more than 300 grassroots lawyers and scientists working together in 70 countries around the world. Together they help protect rivers in Bangladesh, help Mayan beekeepers fight against herbicide exposure, fight coal mines in South Africa, and a lot more. Help them keep up the good fight by donating here.
    6. After writing letters to Congress about improving public education funding, help teachers provide what they need to provide the best education possible for their students by finding a project you believe in at Donors Choose. Start helping here.
    7. Women on Wings helps connect rural Indian women with entrepreneurs who employ them and market their crafts, giving the women an independent income and helping to provide a better life for themselves and their families. The organization’s goal is to create 1 million jobs for women by 2018, and you can help. Donate here.
    8. As the Trump administration rolls back environmental protections, shrinks national parks, and undermines the EPA, the Sierra Club Foundation is fighting it every step of the way to save the purple mountains majesty and the amber waves of grain, from sea to shining sea. Help the cause here.
    9. If you’re looking for a multitasking donation, consider Puppies Behind Bars. The organization trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and as explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. The puppies live in prison with inmates from the age of 8 weeks to 24 months and then, through the Dog Tags program, the pups are placed, free of charge, with wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Donate here.
    10. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving and all its leftovers than by helping fight hunger and child malnutrition? In the U.S., more than 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger, and that jumps to 1 in 3 among African-Americans and Latinx kids. Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks working across the U.S. to make sure everyone has food on the table. Donate here.

    And if you’re feeling extra generous, consider donating to charity watchdog groups, because they’re in need, too.


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    If you’d rather not wait in line for hours on Black Friday or spend hundreds online on gadgets you don’t actually need, you can go to a workshop to learn how to repair your electronics or make a DIY holiday gift instead.

    Make Smthng Week, a global festival run by a coalition of organizations in the maker community and Greenpeace, is hosting more than 250 events in 33 countries. It’s the second year for the festival.

    [Photo: © Maria Vakonaki/Greenpeace]

    A shift toward alternatives to consumption “is on the rise because people are getting fed up with and seeing through the idea of just buying short-term products that don’t last, and are made to be thrown away,” says Robin Perkins, who is working on the Make Smthng campaign for Greenpeace. It’s even spreading to the corporate world, where brands like Patagonia have launched initiatives to refurbish and resell worn clothes, rather than see them end up in the trash.

    [Photo: © Manuela Clemens/Greenpeace]

    The anti-consumption event, which runs between November 23 and December 3, is designed to bring together people who run repair cafes–informal events where volunteers help anyone learn how to fix broken toasters or phones–with others who make their own cosmetics, upcycle furniture, or trade clothing instead of buying it. The organizers want to help the movement grow and become more mainstream as a way to help address the environmental and social impact of current consumption, from the carbon footprint of new electronics to plastic packaging in the ocean or underpaid workers making jeans or toys.

    The campaign also aims to turn participants into activists in their own communities–petitioning for tax breaks for repair shops, for example, so that it becomes cheaper to make repairs, or supporting regulations that fight planned obsolescence, like the EU’s push for longer-lasting electronics.

    “What we’re saying is that we should make the most of what we already own,” says Perkins. “The concept behind it is not just to make people feel depressed about consumption, but there’s a different way that we can consume.”


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    In 2007, Italian director Saverio Costanzo wrote to the publisher of Elena Ferrante’s novella The Lost Daughter and asked if he could option the film rights. The story had captured the filmmaker’s attention because of the way it mined a simple plot—a middle-aged professor vacationing at the beach takes a young girl’s doll—for maximum emotional and psychological effect. The publisher and Ferrante (who writes under a pseudonym and is famously reclusive) granted Costanzo his wish with one condition: He had six months to come up with an adaptation that pleased all parties. Costanzo accepted the challenge. But after six months of trying, and failing, to bring the story to life for the big screen, he abandoned the project. 

    “I was not able to find a common theme to transpose the novel into a film,” he told Fast Company via email. 

    But Costanzo made an impression on Ferrante, and nearly a decade later, the author herself suggested that Costanzo direct the adaptation of My Brilliant Friend, the first novel in her four-part Neapolitan series that has sold more than 10 million copies in 40 countries. Costanzo said yes. “I am certainly more mature and more aware than I was back then,” he said.

    (From left) Elisa Del Genio as Elena and Ludovica Nasti as Lila in My Brilliant Friend. [Photo: courtesy of Eduardo Castaldo/HBO]

    (From left) Margherita Mazzucco as adult Elena and Gaia Girace as Lila. [Photo: courtesy of Eduardo Castaldo/HBO]
    But no amount of maturity and awareness can prepare one to tackle a project as singular as My Brilliant Friend, a co-production between HBO and the Italian networks RAI and TIMVision. Set in a rough, working-class neighborhood in post-World War II Naples, Ferrante’s Neapolitan books chronicle the complicated friendship of two girls—the narrator Elena (nicknamed Lenù) and Lila—their lives intertwining and unraveling many times over the course of some 50 years. The first episode of My Brilliant Friend debuted on HBO last Sunday.

    For the series to work, it had to capture the details of the bustling, often violent world Ferrante created, starting with the Neapolitan dialect spoken by the characters. To find their elementary school-age Lenú and Lila, the producers auditioned nearly 9,000 kids all over Italy’s Campania region before finally stumbling on two girls with no acting experience: Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti. Once hired, the girls took acting classes to master not just memorizing lines but also conveying the deep interiority of Ferrante’s books, a large portion of which take entirely place in Elena’s head.

    Translating the inner workings of literary characters to the screen is never easy—and it becomes even trickier when the author is as elusive as Ferrante. Little is known about the pseudonymous author, but much is conjectured: That she is a translator living in Rome in a nine-bedroom apartment; that she is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor; that her books draw on her own life. During the production of My Brilliant Friend, Ferrante made herself available to Costanzo, weighing in on all eight of his scripts, critiquing dialogue, and arguing for scenes to not be cut—always via email, never in person. The director has likened the experience to working with a “ghost,” albeit a rather opinionated one. (Costanzo also worked with a team of Italian writers as well as Jennifer Schuur, a U.S. TV writer and die-hard Ferrante fan who was brought onboard to make sure the show was accessible to American audiences.)

    A few days after the series premiered, Costanzo answered email questions from Fast Company through a translator, weighing in on Italian neorealist films, how art has no gender, and whether he’ll return to direct the remaining novels in the series.     

    (From left) Margherita Mazzucco as teenage Elena and Gaia Girace as Lila. [Photo: courtesy of Eduardo Castaldo/HBO]
    Fast Company: How did you prepare for this project?

    Saverio Costanzo: We certainly did a lot of research to re-create the rione [the old neighborhood] and make it come to life. We studied every detail of the times we were bringing back to life by carefully watching Italian neorealism films from the 1950’s. It was important for us to keep the literary density of the text. Cinema is a much poorer form of storytelling compared to literature, so our challenge consisted of focusing on staging, acting nuances, and shots, so that every frame would carry the same literary tension as the book. The work proved to be fascinating and full of beauty. Witnessing Ferrante’s pages being brought to life was like seeing a flower blossom.

    FC: Elena Ferrante never visited the set while you were filming, and you’ve never met. Yet she weighed in on the project and was very frank in her feedback to you. What creative challenges did you encounter in adapting such a beloved series whose creator is somewhat of a ghost? 

    SC: Ferrante, in addition to being a talented writer, is also a great screenwriter. She has an amazing theatrical sense of the scene. Her notes, on dialogues or the structure, were always open, never defensive, and were always geared toward the metamorphosis that her own text was undergoing as it was turned into a film. Additionally, I have discovered that working via email is a way of avoiding wasting time with useless words.

    FC: What feedback did you most take to heart, and were there changes that Ferrante inspired?

    SC: Ferrante always insisted that the density of her novel be respected. I never disagreed with her notes, because she only made a few, extremely pointed ones.  

    FC: What was it like making a TV series [in Italy and] in the Neapolitan dialect that was always destined to be seen by a U.S. audience? Was there anything that you tweaked so that it would be better understood by Americans?

    SC: There was no attempt on our part to make the language more understandable. The novel had proved to be universal by reaching millions of readers around the world. We knew that the events and feelings told in the story were felt and understood. 

    FC: Did you encounter any challenges as a male director interpreting a very female-centric story written by—we think—a woman with very strong opinions on feminism? Did you tackle this project differently because of this?

    SC: I can’t categorize art according to gender. Art has no gender. The soul has no gender. Feminine and masculine coexist equally inside each of us. I put myself in the shoes of Ferrante’s characters, men and women. I feel privileged to be a part of her wonderful and profound feminine universe, and I certainly hope that being a man does not set a limitation to the power of the story. But if my being a man has indeed been a limitation, I hope that my feminine side came to the rescue.

    FC: Do you have plans to adapt the rest of the Neapolitan series?

    SC: If I don’t get fired, I’d be happy to continue and do the whole tetralogy. I have always considered My Brilliant Friend as one of my films rather than a series, and a director would never leave his film unfinished. 

     


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    E-readers and tablets have us doing more of our reading on screens than ever before. The latter category, including devices such as the iPad Pro and Surface Pro, even offers pens for scribbling notes. Other lower-profile offerings, such as the Sony Digital Paper and the reMarkable tablet, use e-ink screens to closely mimic the experience of writing on paper, at least as much as technology allows today.

    But while these products may veer toward delivering the utility and portability of a pad of paper, there’s one paper-based stalwart that tech hasn’t been able to match: the humble sticky note. Invented four decades ago by 3M in what has become a famous example of mistakes leading to success, sticky notes have become a classic because of some unique properties. They can convey a message—that is, content—but their placement provides context. They can be put in the line of sight of someone to grab attention or be affixed to a document or other object to provide instruction or commentary. Their ability to be attached again and again has made them popular for arranging ideas on surfaces such as whiteboards for analog mind-mapping.

    The idea of an electronic sticky note likely first gained widespread public exposure with a Saturday Night Live parody commercial in the 1990s for Newton-inspired “Macintosh Post-it Notes.” Here in the real world, more than 20 years later, companies have tried a wide range of hardware and software to capture the essence of the popular paper squares, many of them using small e-ink displays. They’ve included Smart Stickers and Pixsso, neither of which met Indiegogo funding goals.

    The Pixsso e-ink display project couldn’t garner sufficient interest on Indiegogo. [Photo: Pixsso]
    One product that attracted much attention was SeeNote, a larger wall-bound e-sign its developers decided not to produce after soliciting preorders (the creators returned the money). Missmo, which would use a 2G cellular connection to receive SMS messages remotely, was announced at the end of 2017 and still hasn’t shipped. As a testament to the power of paper, one of the few connected sticky note products to make it off the drawing board has been the Cubinote Pro, a printer that can remotely print sticky notes—but of course relies on humans to place them after they’ve been produced.

    The developers of the SeeNote were talked out of pursuing their digital sticky note. [Photo: SeeNote]
    On the software side, 3M first jumped into the fray with an official Post-it Notes application for PCs and Macs in 2002. Twelve years later, it returned with an iPhone app called Post-it Plus designed to capture walls full of real Post-it Notes. Nowadays, both Windows PCs and Macs have integrated sticky note apps as well as more comprehensive note-taking apps (Apple’s Notes and Microsoft’s OneNote) that sync across machines on their platforms. Microsoft is now extending that syncing to its Windows sticky note app, which will be getting the ability to sync with OneNote on Android and iOS. (The company also developed a light-harvesting e-paper sticky research prototype.)

    The Spatial AR system enables manipulation of virtual sticky notes.

    But as apps—or even as a widget on Android—these digital representations don’t fully capture the contextual relevance of paper stickies that can reference whatever they’re stuck on or near. More fully realizing that functionality may require the use of augmented reality. Already, Spatial—one of the first AR apps to target conference room-like collaboration—lets you manipulate sticky-like colored notes to organize different ideas on a real-world surface.

    As a stopgap to a potential future of ubiquitous AR, developers could take advantage of the idle screens on devices such as digital picture frames, the Amazon Echo Show, and Google Home Hub to display notes to various family members. Indeed, Google’s Keep note-taking service already embraces a sticky note-inspired design, while the Magic 8-Ball-like form of Amazon’s Echo Spot make it an ideal size for such miniature missives.

    While these home screens might not have the placement flexibility of paper sticky notes, they could be smarter—say, doing things like displaying a note when a child comes home from school. However, even this kind of notification may seem outdated in a day when virtually everyone can be notified in real-time wherever they are.

    Ultimately, tech’s failure to produce a viable physical alternative to the sticky note may come down to convenience as much as cost. Of modern digital devices, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and its S Pen probably offer the most convenient practical method for ad hoc capture of the kinds of thoughts once reserved for stickies. As a smartphone, it offers many ways to quickly send such scribblings to virtually anyone with another digital device. But it’s then up to the recipient to decide if that message should stick.


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    It’s no secret that the right connections can make a huge difference in landing your next job or making a career move. Having a strong LinkedIn network and engaging your connections can be an invaluable resource throughout your career. Think of your network as a garden–it’s important to plant your garden with intention, tend to your plants regularly, and at some point you’ll likely need to do some pruning.

    Here are some tips to help your LinkedIn network flourish:

    Grow your network thoughtfully from the start

    Start by connecting with people you know or trust–including people you know outside of your current field of work. If your network is filled with connections you know personally, it is real and usable, so that each and every connection has the potential to be helpful to your professional life, whether that’s a job recommendation, an introduction, or career advice. Focus on connecting with people from communities such as your company, school, industry, or who share your professional interests.

    Once you connect on LinkedIn, you can typically see your connections’ connections, which can open the door to meeting new people who may be able to help your career. Asking your connections to introduce you to someone is a great way to expand your digital network. A warm introduction can be very helpful.

    Choose quality over quantity–don’t over-plant!

    Your LinkedIn network isn’t a numbers game, but unless you’re a professional recruiter, having a large number of connections doesn’t necessarily give you the edge. All of your connections should add value to your network–and vice versa. If you are considering connecting to someone you don’t actually know, you might actually consider following them instead. When you follow someone, you will still see any posts they share.

    Getting invites from people you don’t know or don’t want to connect with? No problem. You can simply hit ignore, and the person won’t be notified. If you aren’t sure if you want to accept or ignore, you can also message the sender for more information on why they might want to connect by clicking Message below their invitation on the Manage invitations page.

    Nurture your network

    Remember that connections go both ways. Being a helpful, available connection is the best way to make sure your network is strong and to drive a shared sense of professional enrichment.

    • Make yourself available to others and keep up regular conversations with colleagues and mentors. There are several ways to do that on LinkedIn, whether it’s indicating that you’re open to giving or receiving through our Career Advice feature, or participating in conversations in your feed.
    • Post your own content (video, article, or text) or comment on other people’s posts. This is another great way to start conversations with people who have similar interests while sharing your personal expertise. You can also use posts to ask your network for help–like if you are looking for recommendations for a design freelancer to hire or even asking a tactical question about a software tool you are having trouble with.
    • Reach out to schedule a coffee with someone in your field. You never know where a conversation might go.

    Keep your network relevant–time to prune?

    So you’ve made a few career moves and the folks you connected with when you first joined LinkedIn aren’t adding value to your network today. Or, you were eager to build your network and accepted a few too many connection requests that you don’t know or don’t remember meeting. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to go through your network and disconnect with the people who are no longer professionally relevant.

    To remove a connection: From the manage connections page, you can scroll through all your connections. Click the More icon (or “. . .” on mobile) next to the connection you’d like to remove and click Remove connection. Click Remove from the Remove Connection pop-up window.

    If you do disconnect from someone, know that although they will not be notified of the disconnection, if they do search for you, they will see that you are no longer a connection. Depending on your relationship with that person, this could lead to an awkward conversation. As an alternative, if you want to keep a connection but don’t want to see that person’s posts in your feed, you can also simply unfollow them.

    Having the right network will improve the quality and relevance of your feed, the people who send you messages, and who engages with your content. Remember, you and your network are on a professional journey together, and the stronger your network, the further you can go.

    Lizabeth Li is a director of product management at LinkedIn.


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    Just in time for the online retailer’s Black Friday bonanza, Amazon warehouse employees across Europe went on strike or are staging protests today. According to the UNI Global Union, workers  are demanding better working conditions and wages and protesting Amazon’s refusal to negotiate with them. “We are not robots,” the strikers are proclaiming.

    The affected fulfillment centers are in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. UNI tells me that more than 2,400 workers in Spain and Germany are on strike currently, with hundreds more in the other areas.

    In the U.K., the British trade union GMB says five different warehouses are holding protests. The group says it expects hundreds of employees to take part.

    “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman,” said GMB secretary general Tim Roache in a statement. “They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.”

    Workers in Spain, Italy, and Germany have all planned strikes.

    “Amazon has not made worker safety a top priority,” said Fiorenzo Molinari, a secretary at a local Italian trade union, in a provided statement. “To us, it seems like the company only pretends to care. Our warnings about unsafe conditions often go ignored, and our concerns about our jobs get deflected.”

    In a statement, Amazon pushed back at the union complaints.

    “We are a fair and responsible employer. We believe in continuous improvement across our network and maintain an open and direct dialogue with our associates,” the company said. “We have invested over 27 billion EUR and created over 75,000 permanent jobs across Europe since 2010. These are good jobs with highly competitive pay, full benefits, and innovative training programs.”

    The statement added: “We provide safe and positive working conditions and encourage anyone to come see for themselves by taking a tour at one of our fulfillment centers.

    This isn’t the first time European Amazon workers have gone on strike. On Prime Day last July, employees in Spain stopped working en masse. Workers in other facilities around Europe decided to join the strike too. And last year, facilities in Germany and Italy went on strike during Black Friday too.


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    Worldwide, CO2 emissions are reaching a breaking point, and in Ireland, local leaders are devising strategies to halt the trend. As the country works on large-scale solutions like scaling up wind power and electric cars, a building in Dublin recently tested a smaller intervention: an “urban curtain” that sucks in polluted air and feeds it to algae.

    The installation, called Photo.Synth.Etica, temporarily covered the first and second floor of a building in Dublin Castle in early November. In the design, large bio-plastic sheets, each more than 20 feet long, contain built-in channels filled with algae. Dirty air enters the bottom and bubbles up to the algae, which captures CO2 and pollutants, and fresh oxygen is released at the top. The curving path of the channels helps optimize the flow. In the Dublin installation, the design captured around one kilogram of CO2 from the air each day, or roughly as much as 20 large trees.

    Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto [Photo: NAARO]

    The design “rethinks the skin of a building as a live system,” say architects Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, whose London-based firm, ecoLogicStudio, created the installation during the Climate Innovation Summit. The concept “envisions a future where buildings can be alive and therefore be able to produce energy [and] metabolize pollutants as well as become bio-sensors in the city.”

    Fast-growing algae, Pasquero says, are more photosynthetic than trees. Algae can also be harvested and used to make food or produce energy. “Why should we limit our understanding of urban greens to trees and plants?” she says.

    Spirogyra [Image: courtesy of Synthetic Landscape Lab Innsbruck University]

    It’s not the first facade to use algae on a building. In Hamburg, Germany, an apartment building covered with algae-filled bioreactors provides its own heat as the algae simultaneously shades the building. But that design was both permanent and expensive. The Dublin installation is more like a design from Italian architect Cesare Griffa, who designed a lightweight “bio-digital canopy” for a previous exhibition in Milan. The carbon-sucking facades aren’t an alternative to larger changes–society at large still needs to achieve the gargantuan task of reaching net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. But algae could help offset some fraction of the emissions along the way and help clean polluted urban air.

    The design “suggests a new model of production for the post-Anthropocene,” says Pasquero. In an era defined by the problems caused by humans, the designers say, it makes sense to turn to biological intelligence for solutions–in the same way that biology could help grow meat without livestock or make fake leather from mushrooms.

    The architects are currently working on a permanent installation of the design for a new microbe museum in Austria, and exploring possibilities for large-scale production.


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    The founders of Dolce & Gabbana, in a video posted online, are asking for forgiveness as the backlash over racist ads only grows.

    Friday’s mea culpa comes after a week-long public relations debacle, where customers and e-commerce platforms called the fashion line out for a series of commercials featuring a Chinese woman trying to use chopsticks to eat various Italian foods.

    The situation got much worse when Instagram screenshots surfaced of cofounder Stefano Gabbana making  racist comments about Chinese people (the company insists  his account was hacked).

    The fallout has been fast and furious. A major fashion show in Shanghai was cancelled, e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and JD.com took down many of the company’s pages, and fashionistas around the world were appalled.

    Now, the two founders are begging forgiveness… sort of.

    “Our families have always taught us to respect various cultures in all the world, and this is why we want to ask for your forgiveness if we have made mistakes in interpreting yours,” said Domenico Dolce in the video. He went on: “We have always been in love with China. We’ve visited it and seen many of its cities. We love your culture and certainly have much to learn. That is why we are sorry if we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves.”

    It’s almost an apology—but not quite. The founder asks for forgiveness… that is, if people were offended by his company’s actions. Gabbana piped in, “we will never forget this experience and it will certainly never happen again.”

    You can see it all here:

    In effect, the company made a blunder that had an impact on its bottom line. Now the founders are apologizing if people misunderstood the way they expressed themselves. It’s the ultimate non-apology; I’m sorry you were offended, instead of I’m sorry for what I did.

    “From the bottom of our hearts we ask for forgiveness,” implored Gabbana. We’ll see if the millions of people offended–both Chinese and the rest of us–will accept this apology.


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    There’s more online today than just an avalanche of Black Friday sales. For those able to pause their consumerist tendencies, a treat awaits: Walt Disney Pictures just released a teaser for the upcoming live-action version of The Lion King and boy, is it heartwarming. Get ready for some goosebumps.

    The remake already received much buzz over the last year for its A-list casting: Beyonce, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, and John Oliver are just a few of the household names attached. (Even more exciting: animated Lion King alum James Earl Jones reprises his memorable role as the beloved Mufasa.) Director Jon Favreau is helming the production.

    But fans are salivating over the teaser not so much for a peek of celebrity voices, rather for its stunning animation work.

    In the trailer, viewers are taken through the scenic African landscape and shown a majesty of animals awaiting the birth of the newborn king. One can see the detail of fur on the cub and the colorfully bushy mane of a baboon. As numerous people online attest, the CGI animation looks almost too realistic.

    While anticipation is high, don’t get too excited just yet. The newly released trailer comes way in advance of its debut: The Lion King won’t hit theaters until July 19, 2019.

    Watch the trailer:


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