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    [Image: courtesy Pentagram]
    Business Christmas cards are one of the low points of the holidays, perhaps second only to getting the dad bod fanny pack at your company’s White Elephant gift exchange. Few corporate cards rise above mundaneness. Others try too hard. And some are downright embarrassing, serving as a kind of grim anti-advertisement for the competence of your company.

    Pentagram is unburdened by such banality. Each holiday season since 1974, the prestigious graphic design firm has sent a greeting that is more creative experiment than Hallmark card. Past cards featured everything from illustrated horoscopes to rhyming slang to a quiz that matched your personality to a typeface. This year’s card, by Berlin partner Justus Oehler, is equally delightful: It’s a booklet, featuring 30 bands and musicians that have color in their names. But the color is missing. Your job is to fill it in.

    What does that have to do with the holidays? Nothing at all, and that’s by design. “Our New Year’s greeting has always been a little booklet, almost never keyed to the holidays, but rather imagined as an amusing diversion at–or an outright distraction from–family gatherings,” Pentagram partner Michael Bierut told Co.Design in 2014. “They are never, ever overtly self-promotional.”

    Lesson to companies everywhere: When it comes to holiday cards, think less generic marketing, more rock ‘n’ roll.


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    In an effort nearly a year in the making, Amazon employees are taking a public stand. They want their company to reckon with what they believe to be the most pressing problem facing the world: climate change.

    A group of employee stockholders have signed their names to a resolution, which will be voted on at the upcoming annual shareholder meeting next year. They are requesting that Amazon prepare a report describing exactly how it is planning for disruptions posed by climate change, and how it will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

    In total, 28 employees put their names on the document. It’s a first-of-its-kind stand from employees of one of the world’s most powerful companies–a group of dissenters using the leverage provided to them via their stock options. And according to the people behind resolution, it was the best and perhaps only way to get Amazon’s attention.

    According to Eliza Pan, a program manager at Amazon’s offices in Seattle, the proposal is “a formal mechanism that brings this issue directly to the board of directors.” Within the company, she says, the number of Amazonians who consider climate change to be an urgent issue is growing. “We have 12 years left to dramatically reduce our emissions,” says Pan, “to prevent basically total and dramatic change of our climate.” By drafting a resolution, she adds, it’s the employees utilizing the leverage they have. “Employees have power within companies,” she adds.

    I reached out to Amazon for comment on this story and will update if I hear back.

    Getting the company’s attention

    It began with an overall realization that the best way to attack this problem is to go directly to top brass. At Amazon, employees are part of many email listservs that discuss various issues and topics–both Amazon-related and not. Climate change is a popular one, something many employees have connected about via these email groups. Through this initial digital contact, a loosely organized group of employees began to meet and discuss ways they could bring the overarching issue to the company as a whole. For Pan, it was necessary to do something beyond climate education. She wanted to do something that illustrated the urgency. “We need top-level attention on this issue in order to act,” she says.

    According to Emily Cunningham, another co-signer and a user-experience designer at Amazon, over the last year she, Pan, and others have been meeting informally and discussing the best avenues to get the climate change conversation started. They were unable to bring it up at the last shareholder meeting because they were too late to submit something to the agenda. But some employees were emboldened by another resolution brought to the board: One based on the NFL’s “Rooney rule” that would require Amazon to systematically consider more diverse board member applicants.

    The diversity resolution was introduced by external shareholders, and some Amazon executives initially fought against it. Internally, employees were upset at the company’s resistance to a rule that simply required Amazon to interview–not hire–more diverse candidates. Despite the company’s initial refusal, people on the inside fought to get the proposal passed. Ultimately, Amazon changed its views and adopted the new rule.

    For the climate change-focused Amazonians, this strategy presented a helpful blueprint. The idea was brought to the group, explains Cunningham: “Why don’t we do our own resolution? That could be a really great way to reach employees internally.” It would also, she says, be a way “for us to have a dialog with the larger public as well.”

    While drafting the document, they decided to focus primarily on how pressing the problem of climate change is–and the impact it’s already having on the company. It lists a series of extreme weather occurrences that led to both physical destruction and company losses. For example:

    • June 2016: An AWS data center in Sydney, Australia, went down during severe weather, which broke rainfall records.
    • August 2018: Forest fire smoke enveloped Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, where workers wore face masks to protect their health.
    • November 2018: A tornado in Baltimore smashed an Amazon fulfillment center, ruined its merchandise, and killed two workers.

    These bullet points highlight how the issue isn’t merely ethereal or political; it’s tangible and pressing. “From a purely cynical, self-interested standpoint,” explains Cunningham, “Amazon would benefit from a climate change plan.” The companies that don’t have something in place will likely face dire consequences. Without understanding and preparing for what’s on the horizon, she goes on, “your whole supply chain could be disrupted.”

    Beyond the list of past disasters, the proposal leaves the ball in Amazon’s court. “All our resolution is asking for is a report,” says Pan, that describes what the company is doing to deal with impending climate change. Beyond that, “we leave it up to the board.”

    A new and growing movement

    Dissenting at such a large company is difficult to say the least. Employees are expected to walk a delicate tightrope, representing the usually progressive values of their companies while being dissuaded from talking publicly about anything that happens on the inside. For these Amazon workers to come forward in such a manner is almost unheard of.

    Cunningham even penned a letter to her colleagues that she sent to various internal email groups explaining her decision. “I wrote it almost like a love letter to other Amazonians,” she said. “I wrote why I spoke with the New York Times on record … and I got overwhelmingly positive responses.” The overall reaction, she says, is clear. “People had been feeling disheartened by companies, governments not taking the action we need to take.”

    The message is resonating at Amazon. When first announced, the proposal had a little over a dozen co-signers. After going public, many more have expressed interest–and 28 people in total have signed the resolution.

    This follows a distinct trend happening at other tech companies, too. More tech workers are realizing their internal problems can best be solved by protesting loudly. Google employees recently walked out of their offices around the world to make executives respond to the company’s sexual harassment policies. Hundreds of Microsoft employees signed a petition demanding the company end its contracts with ICE.

    For these Amazonians, they’re happy to see the growing movement, but they want to focus on the task at hand. In a follow-up email, Pan wrote to me, “We are organizing around climate change–that is our goal.” She goes on, “I and others felt encouraged by employees at Microsoft, Google, and other tech companies who are taking a public stance on issues important to them.”

    This could become a more widespread trend. “Personally, I would like us tech workers to inspire each other not only for our public success in delivering innovative products, but also for our public actions on matters of moral import,” says Pan.

    With the resolution submitted, and the meeting on the horizon, the employees will now wait and see. With the success of the past diversity measure, they’re hopeful to get some executive response. Ultimately, they just want the company to realize how dire the situation is. “It’s all hands on deck,” says Cunningham. “We’re in the middle of an environmental crisis right now.”


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    The ever-expanding universe of Trump investigations–it’s now up to 17 separate federal and state probes–presents a huge challenge to journalists, lawyers, investigators, and the public. There is such a preponderance of unanswered questions covering so many angles on so many topics that it’s hard to get a sense of it all. (We’re going to need a bigger corkboard, Carrie!)

    At this point, when you read a new headline about one thread of the case, it’s beyond not being able to see the forest for the trees. It’s more like not seeing the forest–and the trees and the branches–for the leaves. For the average citizen, it’s almost impossible to step back and get the full picture.

    When the scandals first started to pile up, even before he took office, commentators often explained Trump’s immunity to controversy and his improbable victory by citing scandal fatigue. That’s a reference to the Clinton impeachment saga, in which questions about an Arkansas real-estate deal morphed into stains on a blue dress, all of it dominating headlines for months. The public was so exhausted by the whole saga that they started to lose interest and even sympathize with Clinton, boosting his approval numbers and staving off his almost-inevitable impeachment.

    But Whitewater feels like a crude chalk drawing next to the Trump saga’s pyramid, with all of its angles, optics, reactions, plot lines, international intrigue, and questions. So many questions.

    If Trump weren’t so impulsive and childish, it would seem like a calculated strategy to overwhelm his antagonists. And it worked for a long time, with many Americans just too exhausted by it all to be that outraged–complexity leads to complacency–and his base doubling down on their support.

    But in recent weeks, it feels like we’re at a tipping point, with the public’s fatigue turning into frustration and fury. This growing tsunami of scandals is about to mess up the president’s coif and flood the patio at Mar-a-Lago.

    All that said, if you’ve got the stamina, keep reading. To give you a better sense of the enormity of it all and a look at the most dramatic parts of the big picture, here are the main unanswered questions about the Trump investigations.

    If you start to struggle and need to come up for air, that’s fine. Take a break, drink another pot of black coffee, and come back for more.

    Did Trump know about the Trump Tower meeting?

    The president has vigorously insisted he wasn’t aware that his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager met with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in Trump Tower just weeks before the Republican convention in the summer of 2016. But no one outside of his administration and his fiercest defenders really believes him. Even Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who set up the meeting, told me that he assumes Don Trump Jr. told his father before and after the meeting.

    It’s a key question because it gets to the heart of the collusion question–if the candidate himself was okay with getting damaging info on his opponent from a foreign country considered an adversary, that may be a serious crime. And when he later drafted a memo to obscure his knowledge of the meeting, that could be considered obstruction.

    • Related questions:
      • When Don Jr. and Emil Agalarov–an Azerbaijani-Russian singer whose family was in talks to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow–had their phone call to set up the meeting, what did they talk about?
      • What was really discussed at the meeting? Goldstone insists it lacked drama and just focused on adoption and an American law that sanctions Russians, without any mention of Hillary Clinton.

    Related:The man who sent “the most famous email in history” still has plenty of questions


    Did Michael Cohen go to Prague and meet Russian officials there?

    That was one of the claims made in the infamous Steele dossier, much of which has been corroborated. When the dossier was first made public, Cohen vigorously denied traveling to Prague in late August 2016 to meet with Russian officials as part of an effort to cover up connections between Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Per the dossier, Cohen met with Russian official Oleg Solodukhin to discuss “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally.”

    Cohen tweeted a photo of his passport and later showed it to a BuzzFeed News reporter to show that he hadn’t visited Prague. When a McClatchy story later reported that Mueller had evidence of the visit, Cohen called it a “false story” and asserted that he was in L.A. with his son at the time.

    Why was a computer server at Trump Tower pinging Russia’s Alfa Bank?

    This mystery has bedeviled reporters and computer security geeks alike, ever since late October 2016, when Slate’s Franklin Foer first reported that a server belonging to the Trump organization was communicating with a pair of servers at the bank in Moscow. The anomaly was discovered by researchers and caught their attention since it didn’t appear to be malware or automated communications and it occurred at irregular intervals. Thousands of words have since delved into the details of this mysterious occurrence–and it’s still unclear whether it’s evidence of collusion or just a random manifestation that defies explanation.

    It arouses so much interest because it offers the tantalizing possibility of a “collusion” smoking gun–evidence that the Trump campaign, whose data firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested data on millions of Americans via Facebook, may have transferred that info to the Russian government “to help guide its targeting of American voters before the election.” Or it could show that Trump was in hock for millions to the Russians. It could also show nothing at all.

    • Related questions:
      • Did Cambridge Analytica use the servers at Trump Tower to upload or download data?
      • Why did Cambridge Analytica share data on American voters with Lukoil, the Kremlin-owned oil company?
      • What’s the deal with Sam Patten, the longtime Republican operative who was a contractor for Cambridge Analytica and reportedly had ties to Russian intelligence? He attracted the interest of Mueller’s investigators and pleaded guilty to one felony count of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working–like Paul Manafort–for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. As with Manafort, Patten received payments through an offshore account in Cyprus.

    Did foreign donors contribute to the inaugural committee and how did it spend the $120 million it raised?

    Ever since it was reported that Trump’s inaugural committee had raised $107 million, a stunning amount that far surpassed previous inaugurations, questions have swirled about who contributed money and how the money was spent. Just last week, it was reported that federal prosecutors are looking into whether anyone from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia illegally contributed funds to the event via straw donors.

    The inaugural committee also spent money at Trump International Hotel in D.C. and Ivanka Trump talked about charging $175,000 per day for use of the space, though organizers complained that the fee seemed excessive. One of those raising concerns with the president’s daughter was Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, an event planner and friend of First Lady Melania Trump, who was herself paid $26 million for her services during the inauguration. If the price negotiated for the hotel was above market rate, it might reportedly be a violation of tax law.

    Inauguration chair Thomas Barrack Jr., who aroused some suspicion due to his own close business ties to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, confirmed his that he was interviewed in 2017 by Mueller’s team. But he said that his lawyer reached out to the special counsel last week and was assured that he was “not under investigation.”


    Related:How Trump’s D.C. hotel works to help swamp the drain


    What’s in the president’s tax returns?

    It’s the perennial question, and the one which the president has successfully managed to avoid for over three years. As a billionaire with a global business empire (presenting plenty of potential conflicts of interest), his tax returns would be immensely informative, shedding light on everything from possibly fraudulent tax avoidance schemes to any loans to Russian or Chinese banks.

    But Trump has so far refused to release the returns, despite the fact it’s been standard practice for presidents for decades, insisting that “you get far more” from his already-public financial disclosure forms. Tax experts dispute that contention, explaining that the actual tax returns reveal much more information about his businesses and sources of revenue. In Trump’s case, it might be less about what’s included in the return than what’s not in there–like a far lower net worth and smaller charitable deductions than he’s claimed.

    Does Russia–or any other country–have kompromat on Trump?

    The further we get from the publication of the Steele dossier, the less you hear about the “pee tape,” even on late-night talk shows. So far, there’s no evidence for that salacious allegation. While it’s possible that there’s other compromising info on Trump, whether personal or financial, that is holding on to blackmail him, it seems increasingly doubtful. Despite his praise and kind words for Putin, Trump has been tougher than expected on Russia, bombing their troops in Syria and sending lethal weapons to the Ukraine. (Though pulling troops out of Syria and dropping sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaskahas warmed Putin’s heart.)

    [Photo: Flickr user Hillel Steinberg]
    Who allegedly threatened Stormy Daniels and her daughter?

    The porn star has slipped from the headlines ever since losing her defamation case against Trump. But last summer, during her 60 Minutes interview, she raised eyebrows with her claim that an unidentified person threatened her in a parking lot in Las Vegas while she was with her daughter and while she was trying to sell her story about an affair with Trump to a supermarket tabloid. “Leave Trump alone,” he said, according to her account, and looked at her daughter, adding, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

    Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, released a composite sketch of the man who allegedly made the threat. When Trump mocked Daniels’s claim as a “total con job,” Avenatti sued Trump on her behalf but lost, with the judge demanding that Daniels pay Trump almost $300,000 in legal fees.

    Does Trump owe money to Russian oligarchs or banks?

    These were the allegations that first piqued the interest of many reporters, some of whom were told about such loans–or guarantees of his existing loans to Deutsche Bank–by sources. So far, he’s asserted that he has “nothing to do with Russia–no deals, no loans, no nothing.”

    But there’s more than nothing. The Trump organization was“actively negotiating” a business deal in Moscow with VTB, a sanctioned Russian bank, during the 2016 campaign, according to a memo released by Democratic lawmakers.

    And it’s pretty clear that many Russians have put money into Trump real-estate developments from New York to Palm Beach to Panama in recent years, with Don Jr. telling investors in 2008, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

    How much revenue does the Trump organization get from foreign governments?

    Though Trump put his business assets into a trust managed by his two oldest sons, he didn’t divest those assets, leading to concerns about conflicts of interest between his decisions as president and the business interests of the Trump organization. Last April, the company gave $151,470 to the Treasury Department, claiming that was the sum total of the profits its hotel and resorts have received from foreign governments, but there is no way to ascertain the accuracy of that number.

    Earlier this year, it was reported that two foreign government-owned companies pay almost $2 million a year in rent to two Trump properties. And the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the White House, was paid $270,000 by Saudi Arabia, when diplomats booked 500 rooms there in late 2016 and early 2017, and other countries including Kuwait and Turkey have spent mucho dineros to put up their officials at the swanky hotel.

    Did the Trump campaign know that WikiLeaks was about to dump thousands of emails connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

    Like a leaky faucet, this angle keeps dripping with new revelations. In recent weeks, new details have emerged about how Trump consigliere and notorious dirty trickster Roger Stone wrote to conservative theorist Jerome Corsi in July 2016, instructing him to contact WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to get Clinton campaign emails. Stone has said he had heard about the impending leak from New York comedian Randy Credico, but recently added that he had also been tipped off by viewing an email from James Rosen, then a Fox News reporter, to blogger Charles Ortel. Ortel confirmed to The Washington Post that he had forwarded Stone the email.

    Corsi, according to prosecutors, sent Stone’s request to Ted Malloch, a London-based author. A week later, Corsi informed Stone that Podesta’s emails were about to be leaked. Corsi, who claims that he was not in touch with WikiLeaks, recently rejected a plea deal with Mueller, filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging prosecutorial misconduct by Mueller, and is suing Mueller for $350 million, accusing the special counsel of lying to him about Trump. And Stone claims that he was not in touch with Corsi about Podesta’s emails until after they were published by WikiLeaks.

    Recently, the Guardian reported that Manafort visited Assange in London in March 2016, soon after joining the Trump campaign, though that report has not been confirmed by other outlets.

    • Related:
      • Is the suicide of Republican donor Peter W. Smithrelated to the Mueller investigation?
      • The mystery of Smith, a longtime GOP donor who spent much of 2016 trying to get his hands on the 33,000 emails deleted by Clinton in order to help the Trump campaign, deepened a few months ago when it was reported that he had met Flynn the year before. In a document he circulated to raise funds for his effort, the former businessman mentions Flynn, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Sam Clovis, a Trump appointee, but all of them later denied any knowledge of Smith and his initiative. A few months after the inauguration, Smith killed himself.

    [Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]
    Why did Michael Flynn lie?

    The former national security adviser convicted of lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyakjust saw his sentencing delayed (after a withering put-down by the judge). His lawyers have claimed that he was not told in advance that lying to the FBI was a crime (which seems a little hard to believe given his decades-long career in government), but Mueller’s team asserted in a memo that Flynn was given multiple chances by agents to correct his false statements.

    Why lie, given the extraordinary consequences of such a step? Some speculate that Flynn assumed he may have violated the Logan Act, which makes it illegal for private citizens to conduct unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments, and sought to cover it up.

    How much does Vice President Mike Pence know (and when did he know it)?

    Maybe it’s not the elephant in the room, but the question definitely lingers in the back of many of these controversies. Pence may seem like he blends into the wallpaper, when he’s not appearing comatose during West Wing meetings, but he’s a canny politician who’s said to harbor his own ambitions for the presidency. And he’s not stupid. So it seems likely that he was at least half-aware of some of these shenanigans, from the Trump campaign’s outreach to shady Russian officials and players to the Trump Tower meeting to who was donating the millions that went to the inauguration.

    Why did Erik Prince meet with a Russian financier days before the inauguration?

    The Trump donor and founder of Blackwater, the infamous private security company, met with George Nader, an adviser to the leader of the United Arab Emirates, and Kirill Dmitriev, who manages a Russian sovereign wealth fund and is considered close to Vladimir Putin, in the Seychelles islands on January 11, 2017. The meeting aroused suspicion due to the players and the timing–just weeks after Jared Kushner reportedly told Russians about his desire to set up a back channel for communications–with sources telling reporters that it was a way for Trump’s team to secretly negotiate with the Kremlin. Some also saw the meeting as a way for the Emirati and Saudi crown princes to exercise influence the incoming administration. Prince testified in Congress that it was just a business meeting, but the purpose of the meeting has intrigued Mueller’s team. Nader is cooperating with the probe and testified before a grand jury.


    Related:Two Princes: How a secret meeting signaled the UAE’s pull in Trump’s D.C.


    What’s on the Apprentice tapes?

    Ever since Trump permanently tainted the reputation of Tic-Tacs in the Access Hollywood video, there’s been chatter about the existence of outtakes from The Apprentice that show Trump making racist and sexist comments. Fired aide Omarosa Manigault Newman and comedian/magician Penn Jillette, who appeared on the show in 2012, both claim that such tapes exist. And Tom Arnold has made a comeback with a show, The Search for the Trump Tapes, devoted to just that question, claiming that he’s heard outtakes in which Trump says “every dirty, every offensive, racist thing ever.” And one of the show’s producers, Bill Pruitt, claimed in a tweet that the Access Hollywood tape was nothing, hinting at much worse language in other tapes. The Apprentice’s producer Marc Burnett insists that there are no such tapes, adding that because he sold the show to MGM, the archives are their property. Even so, Burnett claims that they cannot be released because the archives are “contractually confidential.” Trump has vigorously denied making any such offensive comments on the show.

    Did Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy have other reasons to resign?

    Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy

    When the Supreme Court justice resigned last summer, it sent shockwaves through Washington, elating conservatives and depressing liberals since it handed Trump his second pick for the high court. But questions were immediately raised about Kennedy’s resignation, since he wasn’t in ill health, and once it was revealed that his son Justin Kennedy once led the real-estate division at Deutsche Bank, which loaned $1 billion to Trump for various real-estate projects when other banks wouldn’t deal with him. Also, Justin Kennedy once escorted Ivanka to watch the Supreme Court hearings. When Trump greeted Kennedy after his first State of the Union speech, he told him, “Say hello to your boy. Special guy.”

    There’s also been speculation that Kennedy resigned as part of a deal to protect his son from any Russia investigation since Deutsche Bank’s records have been subpoenaed by Mueller, a claim deemed “not proven” by Snopes.com.

    Was Trump connected to the payment of yet another Playboy model?

    Everyone knows that Trump got Michael Cohen to pay AMI $150,000 to squash a story by former Playboy model Karen McDougal about her alleged affair with Trump. But The Atlantic’s David Frum has raised questions about former GOP deputy finance chair Elliot Broidy’s $1.6 million payment to former Playboy model Shera Bechard, which was arranged by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen. Broidy made the first installment of that payment just days before a private meeting with Trump, at which he encouraged the president to crack down on Qatar, the rival of his lobbying client, the United Arab Emirates.


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    Juul appears to be using hard cash to quiet angst among its employees who are upset that their company has just sold 35% of itself to Altria, the owner of the Marlboro brand. And there are signs that some of Juul’s existing investors are none too happy about the deal either.

    Reports Thursday said Juul is paying about $2 billion out to its employees in the wake of the Altria investment. That works out to about $1.3 million to each of its 1,500 employees. In a Fast Company interview in November, Juul talked about itself as a kind of humanitarian cause, providing an alternative to adults addicted to cigarettes. The company had even hoped for an investment from an organization like the Gates Foundation. When Juul’s management finally decided to go to a cigarette conglomerate for its big investment, some of its employees were naturally upset.

    Juul is paying a dividend of $150 per share to its investors as part of the arrangement, reportsRecode. The report says Juul shareholders will be paid a collective $1.6 billion in cash, and that money comes out of the $12.8 billion Altria invested in exchange for the 35% share.

    We reached out to Juul for comment and will update if we hear back.

    Juul was valued at $16 billion last summer, but with the new investment the vape champion is valued at $38 billion.

    Recode points out that of the $12.8 billion Altria invested, less than $8.8 billion of it is actually finding its way to Juul’s balance sheet after the employee and investor payouts.

    Juul does provide an effective alternative to smoking for adults. But the healthcare community is still dubious of vaping because the long-term effects of vaping remain unknown. Meanwhile, Juul has become so popular with teenagers that the Surgeon General is calling it an epidemic.


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    2018 will be remembered as the year the world stood at a crossroads, politically, economically, and–thanks to the threat of climate change–mortally. It’s heavy out there; just tuning out the news feels like a form of self-care. But in one big, easily overlooked respect, there’s reason for celebration: the resurgence of science.

    The last 30 years have in many ways represented a dichotomy in the world of science: As advances in technology and innovation have enabled historic leaps in scientific understanding and capabilities, that same science has been systematically distorted and mocked. But in retracing the path of science’s marginalization, you find a beacon of hope for its–and our–future.

    [Source Image: StudioM1/iStock]

    Bipartisan trust in the scientific community was widespread in 1974, across all political ideologies. For many reasons that political scientists are still debating, that neutral, deferential view of scientists began to unravel in the 1980s.

    Beginning with the elevation of anti-evolution activists, elected officials spent the 1980s and 1990s passing a slew of anti-science laws that had the effect of quarantining knowledge from the public. Congress’s bipartisan Office of Technology Assessment, formed in 1972 to provide lawmakers with the latest scientific consensus on issues from health care to criminal justice data to climate change, was abolished by the Newt Gingrich-led House in 1995. The next year, the same Congress effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control from conducting research into gun violence with the passage of the Dickey Amendment, pushed for by the National Rifle Association after a 1993 study determined guns in the home put families at risk.

    [Source Image: StudioM1/iStock]

    But perhaps no data have incurred more wrath than the science of climate change. The fact of carbon emissions’ harm to Earth’s climate has been the target of a coordinated, sustained misinformation campaign since scientists first sounded the alarm in 1988. Talking heads inundated the public discourse to question the legitimacy of climate science; state and federal elected officials kneecapped further research and response proposals and sought to bury new reports on climate change; climate scientists saw their qualifications and even personal lives scrutinized; even semantics were under assault, as the term “global warming” was mocked at the first sign of snow.

    Federal funding for science and research as a percentage of national GDP dropped more than 50% from 1967 to 2007.

    These Dark Ages culminated in science denial being boasted about as a badge of honor to win political campaigns–even the Oval Office. The White House has gutted the EPA’s access to scientific research in the formulation of rules to protect public and environmental health. The president has publicly rebuked a landmark climate report from his own administration warning of looming catastrophe, saying plainly, “I don’t believe it.”

    [Source Image: StudioM1/iStock]

    But just as the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, the knowledge arc of the universe bends toward the light. The White House may be a temporarily lost cause, but pause to really look at these other institutions. Those that questioned science yesterday are on the precipice of exalting it tomorrow.

    Everyone knows Democrats took back the House in the 2018 midterm elections. But look closer: A record number of candidates from scientific backgrounds ran for office–and won. The next Congress will welcome seven scientists and two STEM professionals, including a nuclear engineer, an ocean engineer, a biochemist, and pediatrician. It’s not just in Washington, but in the states, too. Around the country, at least seven gubernatorial candidates ran and won on aggressive clean energy platforms.

    These successes are a call to action from voters, a call that’s being echoed in the marketplace. Americans are increasingly demanding and rewarding corporate action on the environment–which is due to both an increased acceptance that climate change is real and caused by man and a very real feeling of anxiety felt by the vast majority (82%) of millennial parents about the future for their children.

    A wave of international and high-profile corporations have begun embracing science as a driver of social activism and consumer loyalty. Entire ad campaigns and marketing strategies are being built around environmental initiatives. Look at Patagonia, which pledged to donate the $10 million it saved in new tax breaks to environmental groups working to mitigate the effects of climate change. The outdoor company cited the dire aforementioned climate report and subsequent dismissal by the White House as motivators behind its donation, urging other companies in positions of power to act even if the government does not.

    Admittedly, we have a long way to go restoring science to its rightful place, and a short time to get there. But in a time of chaos, when everything from our politics to our planet can make you feel lost, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the wins. Science started making a comeback this year.


    Suzanne Shelton is president and CEO of Shelton Group, the nation’s leading marketing communications agency focused exclusively on energy and the environment. A copy of Eco Pulse can be downloaded here, and a copy of the Millennial Pulse can be downloaded here.


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    When the Block Island Wind farm began operations off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016, the state officially became home to the country’s first offshore wind development.

    Now that the Block Island farm been up and running for two years, Rhode Island is leading the way on another initiative: a training program for students interested in careers in the offshore wind industry. Called Wind Win Rhode Island, the program launched this fall with a small cohort at Rocky Hill School and North Kingstown High School, which both border Rhode Island’s coast.

    Through Wind Win RI, which was developed in partnership with the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce and the state’s labor and job training department, students learn the ins and outs of the offshore wind energy sector. They take courses on engineering, welding, electrical systems, and marine safety, and the program, says director Kristin Urbach, is designed to grant participants up to nine college credits. The governor’s office funded the pilot program with a $100,000 grant, and the first round of students will finish the program in 2020.

    [Photo: Doug Learned/Lucky Dawg Photography]
    “Through talking with people in the industry, we learned that the skills that are most applicable to offshore wind–welding, electricity, fabrication–are held by an aging-out workforce,” Urbach says. In Rhode Island, the workforce is currently dominated by people ages 55 and older. As the state aims to build out even more offshore wind capacity following the success of the Block Island project, it can’t pin the success of future build-outs on an aging population. Earlier this year, for instance, Governor Gina Raimondo gave a green light to another offshore wind project in Rhode Island’s waters, which is expected to create 800 jobs. The state, Urbach says, should be looking to connect young people with these opportunities, which are only expected to grow.

    “We’re closing the gap between what’s expected to be a huge area of growth in our economy, and the fact that the people who can do those jobs now are aging out of the workforce,” Urbach says. Raimondo has pledged to double the number of green jobs in the state by 2020, and make the state’s energy sources 10 times cleaner, which the development of more offshore wind projects will certainly help to do. But the Wind Win RI program is intended to ensure that those jobs can be filled by young people who live in the state.

    [Photo: courtesy Wind Win RI]

    Because the Wind Win RI program tackles both the need for jobs (particularly for young people) and the urgency of shifting to green energy, it mirrors a larger proposal on the national scale: the Green New Deal. Championed by representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, the Green New Deal aims to address climate change by building out jobs in the green energy sector, and speeding the transition to 100% renewable energy in a way that strengthens the economy. The idea is gaining momentum, and the program in Rhode Island could perhaps be seen as a pilot program for the larger proposal.

    In Rhode Island, though, Wind Win RI’s organizers are focusing on making the program a success for the students participating. “What the certification consists of is developing skill sets and exposure to the offshore wind industry for students,” Urbach says. They take field trips out to Block Island and to the University of Rhode Island’s wind energy research center, where they learn about the process of securing approval and developing Block Island. The students also get training from the Coast Guard to operate boats needed to transport people out to do work on the offshore turbines. Their goal is that students who complete the certificate program can use it to direct their college education, or go straight into the workforce. Eventually, the program directors hope to source enough funding to expand to more schools in the next several years.


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    Snap recently rolled out its popular “year end” story for Snapchat users, which highlights a Snapchatter’s best memories of 2018. But the company’s app has also had a number of highlights itself for the year, according to a Snap spokesperson I spoke with.

    Lenses and Bitmojis ruled

    Lenses led the pack in 2018 when it came to one of the most used features in the Snapchat app, with the Snap spokesperson saying “augmented reality and our Lenses continued to take one of the most central roles in the Snapchat experience.” Specifically, the crown of butterflies was one of Snapchat’s most popular lenses with users. Other popular lenses included the smiley mouth Lens and the aerobics dancer Lens, which allows users to put this face on an ’80s-style acrobat. As for its World Lenses, the roaring dino was tops.

    The company’s free desktop app, Lens Studio, which allows developers to create custom Lenses, has seen “well over” 250,000 Lenses submitted by devs. Those Lenses were viewed over 15 billion times by Snapchatters.

    Bitmoji, the personalized emoji app that Snap bought back in 2016, continued to be one of the most popular apps in the App Store. It came in sixth place in Apple’s ranking of the top free apps of 2018. The favorite new Bitmoji was the sad girl, and the favorite new Friendmoji was dog poop. As for fully outfitted Bitmojis, the most popular “clothing” trends were Fall and Winter couture.

    [Photo: courtesy of Snapchat]

    The biggest stories in Snap Map

    Snap Map continued to be a wildly popular feature with users in 2018. Snap Map allows users to post based on their location, which people can view on a map. The Snap Map hub has turned into a repository for where young Snapchat users frequently first hear of breaking real-time news.

    The biggest Snap Map events of the year involved, sadly, school shootings. “We had extensive coverage of one of the biggest movements impacting young people this year–the global March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018,” a Snap spokesperson said. “Two weeks before that, Snapchatters across the United States submitted public Snaps of the nationwide high school walkouts against gun violence on March 14, 2018.”

    Other popular Snap Maps events included the migrant caravan’s trek from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border, which “dominated the Snap Map for months,” and the recent Gilets Jaunes protests in France. Hurricane Florence and the Camp and Woolsey fires in California also saw heavy Snap Map activity.

    [Photo: courtesy of Snapchat]

    Getting out the vote

    The Snapchat app also helped get young people to go out and vote. The company spokesperson said more than 400,000 Snapchat users registered to vote before the U.S. midterm elections in November through a partnership with TurboVote.org, a nonpartisan voter registration site. The places where that partnership was most successful were in key battleground states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

    “On Election Day, Snapchat drove 1.4M people to nonprofit partner site Get to the Polls, which helps people locate their polling place,” the Snap spokesperson said. “We did this by integrating their site into our app and through experiences like the Snap Map, Filters, and mass Snaps.”

    What’s most striking about that number is that the Snapchat app accounted for over 40% of total visitors to the Get to the Polls website on Election Day–more traffic than was sent by popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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    It’s been a tumultuous year in media: Trump’s “enemy of the people” attacks, huge cutbacks at newsrooms across the country, and an increase in threats against and even killings of journalists. But 2018 also saw some of the most powerful and impactful stories that I’ve ever read–an outpouring of amazing investigative reporting, in-depth enterprise stories, and poignant profiles.

    Here are just a few of those that touched our hearts and moved our minds the most in 2018:

    “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis”
    Aa devastating and important story about an ongoing crisis that doesn’t usually make the headlines. (New York Times)

    “The Teens Who Hacked Microsoft’s Videogame Empire–And Went Too Far”
    A crazy tale that takes you deep into the dark side of video game culture, complete with informants, fugitives from the law, and murder. (Wired)

    “The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code”
    Another wild tale, this one about an extremely reclusive genius who wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track and tells his story for the first time. (Bloomberg)

    “What Do We Owe Her Now?”
    The unbelievably heartbreaking story of Amber Wyatt, who was raped in high school but few believed her and her hometown turned against her. Until a classmate of hers went back 12 years later to figure out what happened. (Washington Post)

    “A Kingdom From Dust”
    The tale of the biggest farmer in the country–and how he’s tried to hide the massive influence he’s had over our eating habits and California’s landscape. (The California Sunday Magazine)

    “Bias detectives: the researchers striving to make algorithms fair”
    How scientists are trying to help ward off injustice and prevent machine learning from repeating all-too-human flaws. (Nature)

    “How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters”
    Eye-opening investigative story that describes how, since the Standing Rock protests, more states have introduced bills to target environmental activism. (Inside Climate News)

    “Evictionland”
    This incredibly moving story gets to the heart of gentrification’s human toll–and what it’s really like to get kicked out of your home. (Curbed)

    “Targeted: A Family and the Quest to Stop the Next School Shooter”
    This investigative opus gets to the heart of the school shooting epidemic, and a Oregon family whose teenage son has been singled out for scrutiny. (The Oregonian)

    “A Business With No End: Where does this strange empire start or stop?”
    A fascinating interactive dive that goes deep down the internet rabbit hole. (The New York Times)


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    For reasons I’ve never been able to fully comprehend, a lot of people like snow. And with the Christmas holiday coming up next week, millions of Americans may be wondering if a proverbial White Christmas is in their near future. Despite the enduring popularity of that Bing Crosby-anointed phrase, White Christmases are relatively rare to nonexistent throughout much of the country. And one assumes that situation has not been helped by climate change.

    Nevertheless, if you’re curious whether you will wake up under a blanket of snow on December 25—or if your area is typically prone to the white stuff on Christmas—I’ve rounded up a few maps to help you. If you’re like me and prefer clean sidewalks and dry socks, you can also use these maps to find out where you can keep living the slush-free life. Either way, enjoy your holiday!

    • The Weather Channel has a dedicated White Christmas page with radar maps and snow forecasts. (The network defines this as at least one inch of snow.) As of right now, the best chances are in the Pacific Northwest and northern New England, which are the areas currently covered in snow. Find the maps here.
    • NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information have a really cool resource for snow-lovers who want to know if their area is historically prone to White Christmases. Using climate record data from 1981-2010, NOAA’s interactive map lets you zoom in on your exact location and find out the historical likelihood of getting at least an inch of snow on Christmas. I just looked at the data for Manhattan, and apparently we have an 11% chance here. The full map is color-coded, so you can see which areas normally have snow cover, and which ones almost never do. Find the map here.

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    It’s one thing to be the boss, but it’s another thing to be a great boss. And when you’re running a business, it pays to strive for the latter. The more effective a leader you are, the more you’ll motivate your team and push your employees to do better. So with that in mind, here are a few ways to step up your game as the new year kicks off.

    1. Learn to listen

    As the person in charge, you’re probably used to giving orders and calling the shots. But how often do you take the time to hear what your employees think about existing processes and policies? By becoming a better listener, you’ll gain real insight into what makes your workers tick and what tools and support they need to excel.

    2. Get comfortable delegating

    When you run a business, it’s hard to trust others to do the work you’re used to doing, especially when the decisions they make could impact your bottom line. At the same time, you clearly can’t do it all, and if you overextend yourself, you risk burning out in a really bad way. Therefore, you’ll need to get comfortable with the idea of delegating tasks to other people, whether that means turning to internal employees or outsourcing as needed.

    3. Admit when you’re wrong

    A good leader is someone others can relate to and respect, and a good way to make that happen is to own up to mistakes rather than gloss over them or put the blame elsewhere. If you show your team that you’re willing to hold yourself accountable when things go wrong, your employees will be less afraid to make mistakes themselves in the course of stepping outside their respective comfort zones.

    4. Make time for your team

    It’s not easy running a business, and you’re likely to find that your days are jam-packed more often than not. Still, it’s imperative that you make yourself available to your employees, even if it means shifting deadlines to carve out that time. Giving your employees an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns puts you in a better position to address them, thereby creating a more ideal working environment for all involved.

    5. Stay calm under pressure

    It’s natural to get stressed when things go wrong at work, but if you show your employees that you’re able to keep your cool when things heat up, they’ll be more likely to adopt similar behavior that enables them to better manage stress. And that could really come in handy the next time a disaster (whether major or minor) happens to strike your business.

    6. Get your hands dirty

    As the boss, you have every right to assign lower-level tasks to other people. And in many regards, it doesn’t make sense for you to spend your time dealing with individual computer glitches or shipping issues when you’re overseeing a major operation. At the same time, the last thing you want to do is give your team the impression that you’re above the tasks they’re responsible for. Quite the contrary–if you’re willing to spend some time in the trenches, you’ll gain insight as to what challenges your workers are facing and how you can help address them. At the same time, you’ll send the message that every task is important, which will keep your team motivated.

    The start of a new year is a great opportunity to resolve to do better. Follow these tips, and your leadership skills are apt to improve in 2019.


    This article originally appeared on The Motley Fool and is reprinted with permission. 

    More from The Motley Fool:


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    When sociologists and anthropologists of the future look back on our time to find out what made us tick, one of the main records they may turn to is Twitter’s archives. The social network has become the unofficial ledger of record in many ways. It’s where we go to gloat or complain, to share messages of love and hate, and to find the news–or spread fake news, for that matter. It’s even the primary medium the president of the United States uses to communicate his thoughts to the world.

    In other words, Twitter is a microcosm of our life and times. Looking back at a year’s worth of tweets can give us a glimpse into what moved the world in 2018. With that in mind, we’ve assembled this collection of some of our favorite tweets of the year. These are the ones that provoked emotion—be it laughter, agreement, wistfulness, or bafflement.

    The tweets that made us laugh

    The tweets that made us cry

    The tweets that gave us hope

    The tweets that made us go WTF?

    The tweets that hit the nail on the head

    And finally, the tweets that summed up 2018 in a nutshell


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    I love a thought-provoking conversation as much as anyone, but when you’re trying to put your best foot forward in a job interview, chances are you’re holding your breath waiting for the worst one to hit you. In the spirit of job interview preparation, we rounded up some of the toughest job interview questions.

    If you’re interviewing, prepare for these or similar ones. If you’re hiring, we wouldn’t blame you if you worked a few of these into your own list.

    1.What is something people assume about you that is incorrect?

    This is what one of our teammates describes as an “introspective question,” and there are similar ones that come up as well, such as:

    • Tell me about an error in judgment that you made in the last year. What was its impact?
    • When have you been most satisfied in your life?

    The goal with these questions is to test how self-aware you are but also how open you are to discussing flaws and mistakes. You should be able to share some honest experiences but also focus on spinning those negative experiences into positive ones. For example, that error in judgment should have ultimately made you into a better worker somehow. (I mean, didn’t it?)

    2. What tasks do you not like to do?

    Similar to other introspective questions, there’s one key distinction here: This question is meant to tell your interviewer a bit more about your working style. Are you more of an independent worker? A fan of group projects? But also, are you aware of how you work best? Because ultimately, they want to hire someone who knows how to ask for what they need to perform.

    Start by focusing on a weakness you’ve recognized in yourself such as, “I’ve never been the most comfortable in front of crowds so I’ve always dreaded public speaking or presenting in big meetings.” Then, explain how you’ve worked on improving those weak spots. “I used to dislike public speaking so much, I decided to sign up for Toastmasters. I realized getting better about it is essential to my career…” And end with something like “Even though it’s still not something I completely enjoy, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in roles that require I do it.”

    This shows that you’re willing and open to do the things you don’t want to do–because let’s be real, no job is fun all the time.

    3. What are you currently reading?

    When I sat down to write this article, three out of five people I asked said they’d been given this question before. I have, too. So clearly, it’s a popular one with hiring managers, even though it seems out of left field.

    Feel free to include some details about the current novel or memoir you’ve got on your nightstand–this is a great way of showing some personality, which makes your interviewer more likely to connect with you–but we’d also recommend tying it back to your career. Mention some blogs you visit regularly that have to do with your industry. Talk about a recent article you read on a topic that overlaps well with your professional interests. This shows the interviewer that you’re well-read and also passionate about the work you’re doing/would like to be doing for them.

    4. If we gave you a $1 million marketing budget, where would you spend it and how would you measure ROI?

    These are what our founder (and former Hulu recruiter) refers to as “case study questions.” It’s about getting into specifics and testing your knowledge of the company you’re applying to–which obviously, you should have researched before your interview.

    Other examples:

    • What issues should the team consider when evaluating the value of XYZ company’s existing product line?
    • If hired, what would you like to change about our company/your department?

    This is about showing a clear knowledge of the company’s goals and interests, as well as a smart critical eye. Get as specific as possible as you’re talking, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your interviewer for clarity. Think: I saw on your site that you’re expanding into offering e-learning as well as your live events. Is that something you’re planning in the next few months? [Answer] …In that case, I would say that I’d want to put a good portion of the marketing budget into that because…” It doesn’t hurt either to mention team work and consulting to get the job done.

    Every interviewer likes to hear you say, “But before I committed to any of this, I’d want to talk to the stakeholders and get to know their goals a little better.”

    5. What is this gap in your resume?

    Maybe you got laid off or fired, maybe you took time off to raise a child, or maybe you took time off to travel. If an interviewer notices a missing period of time, they’ll likely ask you about it.

    Especially if you got fired, it’s essential that you keep your response succinct and the focus on how you took control of the situation and why you’re ready to get back to work. One good way to spin this is to focus on the things you learned during your period of unemployment. An example answer might be, “This was actually a great experience for me in a way I hadn’t expected because I started doing freelance marketing projects, and quickly realized that I was fascinated by social media growth strategies, which I hadn’t been able to focus on at my previous job.”

    6. What do you dislike most about your current job?

    You probably know by now that you shouldn’t bash your current company or boss, so what happens when a question like this comes up? This is a good time to go with the classic “it’s not them, it’s me” approach and focus on why it’s not a good fit for you. Tell them about some of your strongest skills or the projects you’ve loved most that you haven’t been able to work on enough. Tell them you’re looking for a job that lets you use those skills more often. Whatever your “dislike most” answer is, it should be something that the new job would solve for you–but it should also be something they need help with (don’t make it entirely about you).

    7. What does the ideal workday look like to you?

    This is tricky because often, there are subtle work expectations that companies don’t talk about. Maybe people don’t take lunches or they stay late a few nights a month to finish big projects. That’s where things can get hairy. (Do you say, “I like to work flexible hours and maintain a good work-life balance on weekends” if you’re not sure whether the job is, in fact, flexible?)

    Look for inspiration in the job posting! Review everything they wrote there before going into your interview. Look on their website careers page, too. These places should give you a good idea of company culture. Chances are part of what you applied was because something about the culture appealed to you, so talk about that. It also never hurts to say something like, “I know we love a work-life balance and in an ideal universe, we’d all go home at the same time every day and not check our emails until we got into work. But I also know that there will be times when that’s simply not the reality.” We’re all in this together.

    8. Why should we hire you?

    A danger zone between self-assured and cocky, this essentially amounts to “What makes you so special?” and “Why do I need you?”

    Answer this question through a problem-solving lens. Through your research and even the current interview, you should have a pretty good grasp on what the company is struggling with. Your answer should focus on how you’re uniquely qualified to help them tackle those issues head-on.

    9. What is your desired salary?

    Are you open to added benefits/stock options in exchange for taking a lower salary? (Often startup-specific, especially when interviewing someone from a non-startup.)

    You need to have a range ready to go. Do this long before you walk into the interview by using various salary tools, including The Salary Project™. You should also have an explanation for why that’s your desired salary with clear evidence of why you should be paid that amount.


    A version of this article originally appeared on Career Contessa and is adapted with permission. 


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    One minor drawback of living in the digital age is that at any moment, you can type the wrong set of words on your phone and subsequently find your life in shambles.

    It happened to Justine Sacco, although she has since recovered. It happened to Anthony Weiner, although knowing what we know now, it was likely going to happen with or without Twitter. And this past summer, it happened to Roseanne Barr, who wasn’t just “canceled” in the colloquial sense following her racist tweet, but rather in the sense that her self-titled hit TV show was actually taken off the air. Roseanne’s tweet likening Valerie Jarrett to an ape was perhaps the most widely circulated and consequential act of racism that captured the public’s attention this year, but it was only one tall tree in a grand, gross forest of foolishness.

    Make no mistake: 2018 was the year of the viral racist.

    The problem of racism itself may or may not be getting worse in the Trump era, but it’s definitely getting caught on camera more often. Racists are now so emboldened–and the urge to record them so easy to act upon–that this year felt like an unending festival of short films about weaponized ignorance. With practically each passing day, a new villain would emerge, shouting racist epithets or calling cops for preposterous reasons, often earning an unflattering nickname in the process. Eventually, the video evidence became a genre unto itself: Living While Black. It’s a title that perfectly encompasses the sheer lack of offense required for people of color to actually offend racists, causing them to lose their legendary cool.

    How is it possible in 2018 for anyone to still act this way without considering the ubiquity of cameras and the internet’s sleuthing prowess? Probably a combination of being scared of everything and feeling obliged to defend the historic dominance of whiteness. To be clear, neither are good reasons. The cycle repeats itself so frequently, though, that this list received three fresh entries between the day I started compiling it and the day I finished, one week later.

    Have a look below at the year of the viral racist, and never doubt the panopticon’s ability to amplify bigoted outbursts to an audience of millions within minutes. Some of these instances (or the comeuppances that follow) seem almost funny in a schadenfreude-y way, but considering that this impulse to equate non-pale people with danger is what got Botham Jean killed in his own home, it’s no laughing matter at all.

    January

    • H&M introduced a catalog picture that, uh, got people talking.

    The company later apologized after mounting pressure, but the incident betrayed an aura of either carelessness or controversy-courting that left a sour taste in our mouths.

    February

    Whether because of Black History Month or the fact that it’s the shortest month of the year, February happened to be the only month in 2018 with no prominent displays of viral racism. Congratulations, February!

    March

    • Virginia Tech’s (all-white) women’s lacrosse team was criticized after a video appeared online showing the group singing a Lil Dicky song that prominently features the n-word. The team ultimately apologized for the video. Although this incident isn’t nearly as egregious as most of the others on this list, it ushered in a conversation about the typical lack of diversity in certain college sports.

    April

    • A barista at a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two black men who were waiting in the coffee shop for a friend. As a result of the social media outcry that followed, Starbucks shut down all 8,000 of its stores one day for anti-bias training.
    • A woman was captured on camera calling the police on two black men who were using a charcoal grill to cook meat in a designated grilling zone in Oakland. The woman became known as BBQ Becky.

    May

    • A white man suffering from a terminal case of Economic Anxiety was filmed ranting to the manager of a Fresh Kitchen in Manhattan about an employee speaking Spanish to a customer. After Twitter crowdsourced the man’s identity, local politicians filed a formal complaint against him with the state’s court system and his law practice was kicked out of its office building.

    June

    • A Missouri woman released a video around the topic of going “[n-word]-hunting” on Snapchat, and was subsequently fired from both her waitressing job and the Air Force Reserve.
    • A white real estate agent was caught on a phone video hurling racial insults at a Latinx bouncer. After the video made the rounds, the agent lost his job for apartment broker MySpace NYC.
    • A white woman earned the nickname Permit Patty after threatening to call the cops on a young black girl selling water on a San Francisco sidewalk. The woman eventually resigned from her job as CEO of a cannabis-products company following the backlash.
    • A white woman earned the moniker Pool Patrol Paula for attacking a black teenage boy she suspected was not allowed in a community pool. (He was.) Months later, the woman pled guilty to an assault and battery charge and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

    July

    • A California woman was caught on camera yelling racial slurs at a black couple on an interstate freeway. She later lost her job over it.
    • A white man became known ID Adam after calling the police during a Fourth of July pool party because he refused to believe that a black woman and her child were members of their community pool in Winston-Salem, NC. (They were.) ID Adam soon lost his job at Sunoco and was kicked off the community homeowner’s association.
    • A white CVS manager called the police on a black woman in Chicago for using a manufacturer’s coupon he suspected was fake. The plot twist, however, was that the man now known as Coupon Carl had himself been busted for forgery two years prior. Coupon Carl lost his job at CVS.

    August

    • A white employee of a land management company went on a racist rant directed at a cameraman at an anti-fracking protest for a documentary on climate change entitled, fittingly, The Way We Live. The cameraman later shared video of the rant, which he had been caught on, you know, his camera, and the racist man lost his job.
    • A Mississippi hospital employee was caught on camera calling a Donut Palace worker the n-word. After the video went viral, the employee lost his job.
    • Also, this happened:

    September

    • A woman working for Delta called the police on a black woman who asked to speak with a manager about her badly damaged bag. The Delta employee was dubbed Baggage Claim Becky.

    October

    • And this happened too:

    November

    December

    • A white Tennessee woman was recorded verbally attacking three black Target shoppers, telling them “you don’t belong here.” Her new name? Target Tammy.
    • A Virginia teacher called university campus security on an art professor (who happens to be black) for eating her breakfast inside her own classroom. The teacher is suspended for the reminder of the semester.
    • A Brooklyn woman went on an explosive rant against a woman of Asian descent on the NYC subway, eventually attacking her with an umbrella. The perpetrator now faces felony assault charges.
    • A white Columbia University student was caught on camera ranting about the superiority of the white race to a group of fellow students, several of whom are black. The student defended his rant on the platform that definitely made him look the most reasonable: Alex Jones’ Infowars.

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    In 2018, we learned from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have around 30 years to fully decarbonize or risk widespread global devastation from warming and sea-level rise. We also learned that current emissions patterns are nowhere near in line with that goal. Even though the Trump administration tried to bury the U.S.’s own findings on climate, the 1,656-page National Climate Assessment backed up the IPCC report, and called for a doubling down on climate protection policies to prevent damage (which is already underway) to the environment and the country’s infrastructure.

    The consensus among scientists, researchers, and sustainability experts following this years’ reports is that while stopping climate change will require an undoubtedly Herculean effort, the biggest hurdle is political, not technical. In other words, if all the innovations in sustainable technology and science were harnessed and directed at reducing emissions and environmental collapse, we might stand a chance at meeting the goals laid out in the reports.

    [Photo: Victor Rodriguez/Unsplash]

    Don’t get us wrong: It will take a heroic, global effort if we’re even going to come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius–the point after which, according to the reports, large swaths of the planet will become uninhabitable, and issues like mass starvation will become widespread. And the lack of leadership from United States, under climate change denier Donald Trump, is making cohesive political action difficult.

    But underneath all this, activists, scientists, and business leaders are working to advance progressive climate action, and despite everything, have hung onto a sense of optimism as we move into 2019. Here are some reasons why:

    [Photo: Impossible Foods]

    We have the potential to radically shift the way we eat

    On the heels of the IPCC report, the World Resources Institute released research tracking global meat consumption, and found that food production, especially animal agriculture, accounts for around a quarter of all emissions. It’s the single-largest driver of climate change. This makes a pretty compelling case for wide-scale adoption of vegetarianism and veganism, but far more importantly, should clue in food distributors, like restaurants and grocery stores, that they need to change their offerings. That’s already happening. This year, the plant-based Impossible Burger started appearing everywhere from airline menus to fast-food restaurants, and is preparing to launch in grocery stores. Just, another startup, is growing real meat in bioreactors, which dramatically reduces emissions and the environmental footprint of meat production. It’s possible, now, to imagine a future where factory-farm-produced meat is replaced by plant-based versions, or meat grown in labs.

    We can grow more food without damaging the environment

    “Over the last century, we’ve relied heavily on fertilizer to meet the food demands of a growing population,” says Karsten Temme, CEO of the startup Pivot Bio. Fertilizer is most commonly made from synthetic nitrogen, which is easy to produce and distribute, but releases a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Synthetic nitrogen alone is responsible for around 5% of global warming. Next year, Temme’s startup will begin delivering a new, natural alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to farmers. Pivot Bio’s product consists of natural, nitrogen-producing microbes that adhere to plants’ roots, supporting plant growth while eradicating the need for environment-damaging synthetic versions. Especially as populations grow and land constricts due to climate change, well-fertilized crops will be necessary to meet food demands.

    [Source Image: Makalo86/iStock]

    We’re ready to end dependency on coal

    This is something that Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, has believed for years, and is now excited to see play out in policy. “Coal retirement announcements continue coming at a steady clip,” she says. In fact, she says, 2018 saw a record number of coal plant retirements, with 14.7 gigawatts going offline this year, and by 2024, the current coal capacity of 246 gigawatts in the U.S. will drop as much as 15%.

    Activists are fired up

    “More and more people taking action themselves, but also demanding action from their leaders,” says Philip Drost, who leads the steering committee for the UN Environment’s annual report on emissions targets. Most recently, young activists from the Sunrise Movement have flooded the halls of Congress, calling for a “green new deal” that would transition the economy off carbon, and at least 22 elected officials have signed on. Activists in Portland, Oregon this year also succeeded in passing a first-of-its-kind initiative to mandate that big companies pay a portion of their revenue toward supporting green infrastructure projects in low-income communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by climate change and industrial pollution.

    [Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

    Some of most polluting industries are cleaning up their acts

    The transportation sector remains one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions both in the U.S. and the world. But policies and innovations this year are beginning to address that. California is pushing a bill that will mandate a shift to 100% electric buses. Airlines like JetBlue and Virgin are experimenting with electric planes and using biofuel blends, both of which are more sustainable than pure fossil fuels. And Shell, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, is investing in clean energy solutions.

    A full shift to renewable energy is already under way

    “For the first time in U.S. history, renewable energy is now cheaper than running existing coal plants,” the Sierra Club’s Hitt says. And Ellen Roybal, who heads up strategy and market intelligence at GE Solar, cites the fact that some of the largest companies in the U.S., like Walmart and Google, are making steep commitments to renewables. “There are so many companies falling into line behind them–it’s trickling down to smaller consumer brands, and outward into other industries,” Roybal says. “Companies like Dow Chemical have power-purchasing agreements with wind plants.” Roybal think that as more shifts to renewables happen at the corporate and local levels–Georgetown, Texas became 100% powered by renewable energy this year–the more momentum will swing toward abandoning fossil fuels. “There’s so much more that has to be done for our planet as a whole,” she says.


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    Ah, the end of the year. A time consumed with evaluating the past 12 months while simultaneously establishing an agenda for the next 12. Or just, y’know, self-promising to eat better or something. In advertising, it’s when we evaluate the best work of the last year, trying to glean insight into what it might tell us about where brand creative strategy is headed.

    In order to do that I went straight to the source, a collection of leading ad execs from a wide variety of agencies–big, small, indie, networked–to get their thoughts on what work by others stood out most in 2018 and why, the trends sweeping across their business, and what it says about what we can all expect in 2019.

    Nike “#JustDoIt”

    Amy Avery, chief intelligence officer at Droga5: “I love it for a few reasons. It is beautifully done and it is a great example of leveraging culture. Though I suspect Nike had tons of data behind them to make this decision, people view it as pure creativity, which is how data should influence work.”

    Chris Garbutt, chief creative officer of TBWA Worldwide: “It was such a brave move for Nike to directly take an activist stance and to back someone so audacious and courageous. And it paid back. Brands need to stand by their beliefs and be part of pushing change going forward.”

    What the best work of 2018 means for 2019:

    AA: “I think we will see brands immerse themselves more in culture and let go of some of the fear that has perhaps held back some great creative ideas.”

    CG: “I expect to see the continued rise of ‘bionic creative’: What we call big, bold creative ideas that are informed by data and cultural insights. We saw some of this in late 2017 and through 2018, such as with the Marmite Gene Test. We’ll see more use of data upfront to inform and shape the creative idea.”

    Libresse “Viva La Vulva”

    Susie Lyons, chief strategy officer of DDB New York: “Libresse’s ‘Viva La Vulva’ and Nike’s print ad with Colin Kaepernick. They’re not just great pieces of work, they’re important pieces of work, and a good reminder of the potential and power we have as an industry. Yes, we have a responsibility to our clients to do what’s right for their business, but we also have a responsibility to people to do what’s right for humanity, and both these pieces are great examples of how you can do both.”

    What the best work of 2018 means for 2019: “As technology and AI continue to do all the things technology and AI can do, I hope we as people in advertising focus on the things that people can do–empathize, entertain, create, and move society forward in a positive direction. I hope that’s where we’re headed, and I hope that’s where we stay headed.”

    KFC “FCK”

    Tom Blessington, co-president at Wieden+Kennedy: “It was a brilliant response from both KFC and their U.K. agency, Mother. The strength of the idea isn’t just transposing the brand’s initials to create near profanity (sure, that has stopping power) but its real genius is the ad’s brutal honesty and humanity. It perfectly captures just how mortified the chain must have felt after they experienced a massive chicken shortage that forced them to close a good number of restaurants. It’s how anyone would feel in that moment if they ran KFC. But instead of issuing a press statement filled with corporate-speak and spin, they ran a simple ad in two newspapers that generated an overwhelmingly positive response (over a billion impressions) proving that being disarmingly honest, even when you’re vulnerable and embarrassed, is still the best policy.”

    What the best work of 2018 means for 2019: “I would like to believe that the net take-away of 2018 is ‘fortune favors the brave.’ It’s getting harder and harder to penetrate the force field consumers have developed to protect themselves from unwanted messages…. 2019 will not be the year to play it safe, round off the edges, and ‘put the consumer at the core.’ It will be a year where brands put their values at the core, speak from their heart and walk the talk. In turn, consumers will reward their courage with admiration and preference.”

    Skittles “Exclusive the Rainbow”

    Will McGinness, partner and executive creative director at Venables Bell & Partners:”It was just such a delightfully dumb idea. The fact that they were able to essentially make a joke into such a big PR story was refreshing.”

    What the best work of 2018 means for 2019: “I think brands are gaining more confidence in the social space. Brands like Wendy’s have shown that you can have attitude and personality and be more likable for it. Hopefully that trend continues.”

    Cards Against Humanity “99% Off Black Friday Sale”

    [Screenshot: Cards Against Humanity]
    Jaime Robinson, cofounder and chief creative officer at Joan Creative: “Every year, Cards Against Humanity does a spectacular statement-making stunt before holiday shopping season. This year, they skewered the Black Friday hysteria by creating a crazy 99% off sale where everything was 99% marked down, including a vacation to Fiji, 500 pounds of garbanzo beans, a solid gold dildo, and an actual Picasso.

    I love how this tiny brand creates a ton of noise in the world each year and finds a new way to activate and grow its audience. They start everything with a premise of inviting people into the joke–to have them play an actual part in the idea.”

    What the best work of 2018 means for 2019: “I’m encouraged by what’s happening in fashion, with all of these crazy creative directors turning major houses upside down and having fun with it all. I hope more and more brands will start to be a little more playful and break a few of the rules. Audiences are really looking to see new sides of the brands they love.”

    OKCupid “DTF”

    [Photo: courtesy of OKCupid]
    Gerard Caputo, CCO BBH New York: “The execution simple, fun, fresh and bold. This is a great idea followed by excellent execution that can flex into any media format and go on forever.”


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    Corporations think that open offices are an architectural gift to their bottom line. In some ways, they’re correct: Open-plan offices save the biggest companies in the United States millions of dollars by reducing the square footage each employee requires them to lease, according to one analysis. An open-plan office also has the added benefit of  making a company look innovative, even if the organization is anything but.

    So it’s no wonder this paradigm has reigned for decades: These offices don’t just save money, they make companies look good, too. Yet this year, something changed. The conversation around how these office designs affect the people inside them got louder. Meanwhile, a slew of new research suggested open-plan spaces are actually remarkably bad for workers.

    This is the architecture trend that needs to die in 2019. Here’s why it’s so detrimental–and how companies can take action.

    [Source Image: tarras79/iStock]

    They’re sexist, bad for productivity, and make people miserable

    Open offices promised more collaboration–and thus more productivity–between workers. But a 2018 study out of Harvard Business School found that moving to open offices leads to a decrease in face-to-face interactions between employees, with the number of emails and messages shooting up. The study shatters the myth that the open office truly makes workers more collaborative.

    Open offices can also make employees less productive, especially people who need to focus on execution-based tasks. These offices are so distracting, in part, because they lack acoustic privacy. That means that you can overhear every one of your neighbor’s phone calls and conversations. It’s a problem for creative people in particular, as a 2018 survey of creatives showed: 65% of creative people need quiet or absolute silence to do their best work. Open offices can’t deliver on that desire.

    Open offices also tend to lack any kind of personal privacy–and that has an outsized affect on women. A remarkable study from 2018 reported what happened when two local government agencies in the U.K. moved from a traditional office to an open plan. They were surprised to find that many of the women suffered from feeling like they were on display all the time, which led to some women feeling like they needed to dress up more. Others noticed their male colleagues ranking female job candidates on their attractiveness, which was easy because there was so much glass in the office. “Visibility enabled these men to judge and rank women according to their sexual attractiveness, just like men on the nudist beaches,” the researchers wrote.

    [Photo: Jadon Barnes/Unsplash]
    This subtle sexism the study described elicited a strong response in Fast Company readers, who wrote in with their own stories.

    One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the open plan in her workplace further enabled sexual harassment. Another called the impact of being visible all the time and the implicit judgment of being on display at all times “ambient sexism.” Others found their offices made it harder to manage their anxiety; one woman who would go to a nearby hotel when she needed privacy learned that many of her other female coworkers had similar “hiding spots.”

    [Photo: Teem]
    Unfortunately, these offices are only becoming more prevalent–mostly because of their low cost. WeWork, which is now building out corporate offices, recently acquired a software company that focuses on optimizing office design. With a better understanding of how people use space, the idea goes, the better it can be designed to suit their needs. But it could also lead to less private space, already rare or at a premium in open offices.

    [Photo: Kettal]

    The furniture market is already responding

    For better or worse, the problems of open offices have created a novel new category of office furniture.

    Furniture companies are racing to respond to people’s need for privacy in these offices by creating pieces that function as little oases for employees. Many of these “fixes” debuted on the market for the first time within the last few months. For instance, Designer Jaime Hayon released a series of couches with blinders to transform sofas into smaller private spaces. Furniture company Kettel now sells pavilions that can divide up the open office into smaller spaces. There are now countless types of phone booths and modular pods designed to give people the acoustic and visual privacy they’re craving.

    [Photo: Marco Covi & RNDR]
    While the days of the private office may be long gone for many, other companies are coming up with creative ways to bring the cubicle back. Italian company Arper designs modular, colorful cubicles that are inspired by the beige boxes of the 1960s but flexible enough to fit any 21st-century space. That’s one version of a modern cubicle. Two others, dreamed up by the architecture firm Rapt, involve nontoxic fog and furniture robots, pointing toward a much wilder future of the office.

    [Source Image: ZernLiew/iStock]

    Employers, listen up

    There is a single positive outcome of working in an open office. A 2018 study found that office workers in an open plan tend to move around more than people who work in cubicles and private offices. More physical activity helped to reduce stress. It may hint at a way forward for companies that want to mitigate the negative effects of this office paradigm.

    In fact, some companies are now opting for a gentler office paradigm that includes a hybrid of public and price workspaces. While this new generation of spaces might still put desks out in the open, they include tons of small conference rooms and more private work spaces. These designs, like design agency Work & Co’s new office in Portland, are based on the idea that people need different types of spaces for different types of work. The office has a kitchen filled with social space, a library, and an entire floor dedicated to small rooms for private work and meetings.

    [Photo: Nicole Mason]
    In August, one architect argued that the Harvard Business School study, which found that open offices made people less productive, was flawed. Her reasoning? The researchers were only looking at very extreme versions of open offices, as opposed to more hybrid spaces, adding, “There’s a range of potential workspace designs between traditional offices and the totally open plan.” The same architect also offered up her best practices for designing better offices, which you can check out here.

    Unfortunately, some companies will stick with these extremely open offices, and the furor will continue. But as researchers, architects, and even the furniture industry showed this year, there’s no excuse for not taking action to create more humane, pleasant workspaces for your employees. Here’s hoping for a change in 2019.


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    50% of the bandwidth of your brain is used to process your vision.

    We are visual animals who not only constantly evaluate our surroundings through sight, but are capable of extracting information and logical conclusions out of abstract graphic representations. That’s why data visualization is such a powerful tool, which can communicate nearly anything more effectively than text.

    That skill–the ability to interpret data and analyze and communicate ideas about that data through design–has never been more important. 2018 brought a wealth of remarkable visualization work to the fore, and much of it changed our perception of the world around us. Here are a few of the best.

    The true size of world powers? Not as big as you think

    You probably already know that countries like Russia, Canada, the U.S., and even regions like Europe are smaller than they appear in the Mercator projection. But this year, the cartographer Neil Kaye truly put that radically biased mapmaking in perspective–through this animation  comparing how countries look on a Mercator map versus their actual geographic reality.

    The terrifying state of our atmosphere

    [Image: NASA]

    NASA’s Earth Observatory released a terrifying new edition of its Earth atmosphere map, complete with a new Mordor-style color palette. The comparison is apt: the viz shows the aerosols suspended in the atmosphere on a single day in August. The orange is black carbon smoke produced by fire and coal burning, purple is dust, and blue is ocean salt suspended in the air by storms. In short, it was a shockingly impactful glimpse of our planet in crisis.

    The tangled web of corporate corruption

    [Screenshot: courtesy Data Interview Questions]

    78% of the top 50 companies in the S&P 500 are directly connected through one or more board members. From Disney to JP Morgan Chase, it’s all a tight network of friends that fuel corporate corruption and even economic crises, according to the Harvard Business Review. This visualization by Erik Rood shows these connections with shocking clarity.

    The other environmental crisis

    [Image: courtesy Daan Roosegaard]

    When the Dutch artists and designer Daan Roosegaard learned that there are about 18 million pounds of junk orbiting Earth–not working satellites, but actual junk, like detritus from old rockets, random spaceship pieces, and dead satellites–he decided to start a project called Space Waste Lab, which resulted in the visualization you can see above. It gives us a glimpse into an environmental crisis that isn’t even of this world.

    America’s real estate insanity

    [Screenshot: Felipe Chacon/Trulia]

    As the economic bubble continues to expand, the gap between Americans continues apace. According to real estate platform Trulia, more than 3 million U.S. homes are currently worth $1 million or more, which doubles the count from 2012. This interactive map shows where all these houses are concentrated across the country. It may not surprise you to learn that California is at the center of this affordability crisis.

    The beating heart of NYC

    [Image: courtesy Justin Fung]

    Viz designer and researcher Justin Fung used data from the 2010 Census, the MTA’s turnstile database, and a previous NYU study to estimate the population of each block in Manhattan and create this fascinating animation map about how it changes hour to hour during the entire week. It’s truly like a living organism.

    How companies share your data

    [Image: Rebecca Rinks]

    Another topic that was widely discussed this year–privacy–was also more thoroughly descrived through data viz. This visualization by researcher Rebecca Ricks shows
    how widely companies share your private information using data from PayPal in the European Union. It’s not only Facebook, although it’s certainly a major offender because of the sheer amount of info you give it. But as Ricks proved, it’s far from the only guilty party.

    How Trump pockets your tax dollars

    [Image: ProPublica]

    Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and stop corrupt “elites” from profiteering off the hard work of We The People. As this infographic by watchdog ProPublica shows, he’s doing exactly the opposite. Based on 27 investigative pieces, it illustrates how much federal tax money is going to Trump’s private business and campaign.

    Google Earth, but 750 million years ago

    [Screenshot: dinosaurpictures.org]

    Then there were downright delightful visualizations like Ian Webster’s. Webster thinks that giving people the capability to track where their homes were located on our planet’s surface at any time in the past 750 million years is a great way to teach humans about geological history. I fully agree. Enjoy a little time travel here.

    The map that put it all in perspective

    [Photo: courtesy David Rumsey Map Collection]

    And finally, something relaxing. You’re looking at one of the most extraordinary maps ever created: a 10-by-10-foot digital image of a 60-sheet world map drawn by hand in 1587 by Italian cartographer Urbano Monte–the largest known early map of the world. It’s not a 2018 map, but a new interactive version was uploaded this year to the David Ramsey Historical Map Collection at Standford University after a painstaking digitalization process. It was a brief respite from a year of political, economic, and environmental shocks.


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    2018 was a year of both hopeful and discouraging moments in the world of work. As Fast Company‘s Lydia Dishman reported, we’ve seen many instances where employees pushed for accountability from their leaders. We saw workers strike to demand better rights and conditions, and actively protest company policies that they morally opposed. Some leaders responded to those concerns, by publicly shouldering responsibilities and taking steps to have the necessary, yet difficult conversations. Others did not.

    Technology continues to raise questions around the future of work–and how humans will coexist with machines. We also learned more about the upsides and downsides of existing in the gig economy, as well as its promises and perils.

    But amid all the volatility and changes in the landscape of work, Fast Company readers remain committed in their desire to succeed in work and in life. As we head into 2019, we can look to these stories to put us in the right path to do just that.

    1. 7 warning signs that you shouldn’t accept a job offer

    It’s difficult to make an accurate assessment of a company culture in a 20 minute interview, Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, told Fast Company‘s Stephanie Vozza. However, Patel believes that there are a few things that should raise red flags. Messy bathrooms, for example, can be a signal that employees in that company lack a collaborative attitude.

    2. What happened when I tried the U.S. Army’s tactic to fall asleep in two minutes

    Many of us have trouble falling asleep. In fact, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have some sort of sleeping disorder, according to the American Sleep Association. If you’ve ever struggled with any sort of sleep issues, you probably know that it has a huge impact on your mood and productivity. Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus has tried everything from meditation to medication to combat his occasional sleep problems. This year, he experimented with the two-minute technique that the U.S. Army employed to help soldiers fall asleep quickly in “less than ideal conditions.”

    3. Neuroscience says that listening to this song reduces anxiety by up to 65%

    People use all sorts of different tactics to manage stress, one of which is sound therapy. As Inc. columnist Melanie Curtin wrote, neuroscientists in the U.K. have now composed a playlist that has been scientifically proven to ease your anxiety. Curtin wrote, “In this age of constant bombardment, the science is clear: If you want your mind and body to last, you’ve got to prioritize giving them a rest. Music is an easy way to take some of the pressure off of all the pings, dings, apps, tags, texts, emails, appointments, meetings, and deadlines that can easily spike your stress level and leave you feeling drained and anxious.”

    4. Six verbs that make you sound weak (no matter your job title)

    Words have a lot of power. No matter your job title, they can either command respect or hamper your credibility. Leadership communication expert Judith Humphrey shared the six verbs that can do the latter. When you say “think,” for example, you’re conveying something less than definitive, while saying “need” can “conjure up a feeling of dependency on the part of the speaker.”

    5. Never, ever utter these phrases in a salary negotiation

    Salary negotiation is both an art and a science. There are certain techniques that can work no matter who you’re negotiating with. Likewise, there are strategies that will almost always backfire on you. Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiationshared the phrases that you should stay away from if you want to impress the hiring manager. First things first? Don’t fall for the trap of answering the “dreaded salary question.”

    6. This 75-year Harvard study found the 1 secret to a fulfilling life

    These days, it’s hard to prioritize what’s important in your life. But according to a study, there is one thing that trumps everything when it comes to bringing happiness–quality relationships. As Melanie Curtin wrote, “The data is clear that, in the end, you could have all the money you’ve ever wanted, a successful career, and be in good physical health, but without loving relationships, you won’t be happy.”

    7. Here are six signs that it’s time to quit your job

    Jobs tend to have an expiration date. Sometimes new opportunities prompt you to move on, but other times, that end date isn’t always clear. Fast Company’s Stephanie Vozza wrote about the warning signs that signal it might be time for you to go elsewhere. Perhaps you’ve found it more and more difficult to get out of bed, or that you’re not being recognized for your hard work. If any of these signs look familiar to you, it might be time to wave your current job (or company) goodbye.

    8. These are the 5 “super skills” you need for jobs of the future

    The world of work is constantly changing. That means that what it takes for you to succeed in your job today will be different to what it will take for you to succeed in five years’ time. That’s why to stay relevant, you need to make sure that you’re consistently working to master these “super skills,” from being adaptable with technology to being resilient in the face of change.

    9. This is what it’s like not to own a smartphone in 2018

    Fastcompany.com Deputy Editor Kate Davis has never owned a smartphone, making her an oddity among U.S. adults (77% are smartphone users.) But she doesn’t plan to change that anytime soon. Becoming a parent has solidified her “low-tech commitment,” and not being tethered to digital distraction has allowed her to maintain a level of sanity in the exhausting news cycle. She wrote, “There’s a way to stay informed about and proficient in technology while setting boundaries around how much it infiltrates my life.”

    10. Don’t tell recruiters these things if you want the job

    There is a lot of emphasis on what to say and what not to say during a job interview. But every interaction in the job search process matters. Glassdoor’s Amy Elisa Jackon shares what you shouldn’t say to a recruiter if you want a competitive job offer, from accepting the starting salary without negotiating, or complaining excessively about your previous job.


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    Disgraced actor Kevin Spacey is facing a felony charge in Nantucket District Court in Massachusetts for the alleged sexual assault of a teenager at a local club in July 2016, the Boston Globereported today. Spacey’s accuser, who was 18 at the time, is the son of a former news anchor at Boston’s WCVB-TV, the Globe reports.

    The former House of Cards actor has been accused by dozens of people for incidents of sexual misconduct and assault dating back decades. The actor hasn’t been heard from since late 2017, when Anthony Rapp first went public with accusations that Spacey made unwanted sexual advances toward him in the 1980s, when Rapp was 14.

    Spacey picked a strange way to respond to today’s news. In a bizarre three-minute video posted to YouTube earlier this afternoon, Spacey exhumed his House of Cards character Frank Underwood, declaring in the video that his fans “want me back,” and pontificating about the dangers of deeming someone guilty without knowing the facts. In the video, which appears to be homemade, Spacey is seen in a kitchen, wearing a Santa Claus apron and speaking to the camera in an Underwood-style direct address:

    “You wouldn’t believe the worst without evidence, would you? You wouldn’t rush to judgment without facts, would you? Did you? All this presumption made for such an unsatisfying ending and to think it could have been such a memorable send off. I can promise you this: if I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn’t do.”

    Twitter users were baffled, to say the least, with some assuming it was Spacey’s attempt at a comeback.

    According to the Globe, Spacey is due to arraigned on a charge of indecent assault and battery on January 7.


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    2018 was a wild ride, but it wasn’t all bad. Amid the chaos and natural disasters and news cycle insanity, there were some bright spots. Here are a bunch of them:

    Fellow congresswomen-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, center, and Rashida Tlaib, right, laugh as City Councilors referenced them in their farewell speech to Ayanna Pressley. [Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images]
    Congress looks a lot more like America now

    The midterm elections in the U.S. ushered in a new era where the government truly represents “We the people.” Not only are there a record number of women and women of color in the House of Representatives, but also the youngest woman ever elected, first Muslim congresswomen, openly gay members, Native American women, and more.

    Larry Nasser and Bill Cosby Convicted

    Bill Cosby’s Wikipedia entry has been updated to include the fact that the comedian is now a convicted sex offender. The former actor and comedian was convicted of assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 and now faces three to 10 years in jail. It’s a small taste of justice for the more than 60 women who have accused Cosby with similar stories since Constand first came forward.

    Similarly, former U.S. Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting hundreds of girls over the course of decades. It took years of women speaking up, but justice was finally served.

    [Photo: Bence ▲ Boros/Unsplash]
    This study showing that drinking is better than exercise

    Sure, exercise is good, but in the long-haul according to this study, drinking a glass of wine or a beer is better. In the study, those who drank one or two beers or glasses of wine every day had a lower risk of a premature death than those who exercised 15-45 minutes daily. That’s definitely something to feel good about.

    The 2018 American Humane Hero Dog

    Chi Chi had her legs bound and was left for dead in a garbage bag in a dumpster in South Korea, but that was only the beginning of her story. The golden retriever was rescued and brought to America, where she learned to trust people. Sadly, her legs had to be amputated, but she was outfitted with prosthetics, and now works as the world’s most inspiring therapy dog–and the winner of the American Humane Hero Dog Award.

    Christine Blasey Ford spoke up

    Christine Blasey Ford bravely brought sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She unflinchingly relived her trauma and weathered presidential attacks to speak her truth in front of a hostile Senate committee in pursuit of nothing but preserving the sanctity of the U.S. Supreme Court. While Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed for the court, her bravery inspired women everywhere, even if Ford had to move four times due to threats after her testimony.

    Ford’s only public appearance since the Congressional committee was to present Sports Illustrated‘s Inspiration of the Year Award to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

    That time Hillary Clinton roasted James Comey

    Just days before the 2016 presidential election, former FBI Director James Comey announced he was opening an investigation into Clinton’s private email account usage during her time as Secretary of State. That investigation went nowhere, so when it turned out he had used private email, she roasted him.

    Ariana Grande released “thank u, next”

    A break-up anthem and video so good that when it was released, it reportedly caused a 57% drop in productivity. The fact that we’re not all corporate drones chained to our desks is reason enough for optimism. Let’s watch it again now!

    This banker who saved a music school

    Chad Cooper left a fast-track career at Deutsche Bank to save the struggling Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Here’s his story.

    Twitter users school trolls

    Twitter can feel like a cesspool, but it can also make the political cycle bearable. Like The Onion writer who trolled Michael Cohen all day or this tweet that swapped Vice President Mike Pence into Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s propping him up in the Oval Office like he was still sentient. Or the now-deleted tweet posted by Eddie Scarry trying to shame (or something?) newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for wearing her “best sale-rack clothes“–and got ratio’d into oblivion by outraged Twitter users turning his supposed insult into a meme.

    This man passed along wisdom to the next generation

    A 95-year old man likes to stand outside a California middle school and yell his thoughts to the students–and in an odd twist, they actually listen to him. According to the Washington Post, Wally Richardson shares his “Wallyisms” with the students at the California, spreading messages of joy, positivity, and self-esteem with the younger generation.

    [Photo: Bobby Rodriguezz/Unsplash]
    Straw bans

    While banning plastic straws may not be entirely effective, and the bans can make life more challenging for people living with disabilities, it is incredible that companies, states, and individuals are taking proactive steps to try and save the planet. Now 127 countries are considering banning single-use plastic.

    Sharks for Trump

    After Stormy Daniels announced that Donald Trump hates sharks, donations started to flood into shark conservation organizations. Marketwach reports that both the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society experienced a surge of first-time donors who were giving charitably in Trump’s name. And someone adopted a 13-foot-long great white shark at Princeton’s Shark Research Institute in Trump’s name.

    [Photo: Flickr user AdrienChd]
    The World Cup

    Nothing brings the world together like yelling at their TV screens that the ref is blind.

    The Muppets helping refugee children

    Sesame Workshop just got another $100 million to make the lives of refugee children a little less miserable. Thanks to a huge gift from the Lego Foundation, the children’s education organization’s plans to create a support system for kids escaping conflict and brighten their day.

    This TV station that bought $1 million in medical debt

    Back in 2016, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver bought $15 million in medical debt and forgave it all. It was an idea that kept on giving. This year, Seattle news channel KIRO 7 decided to help their community. They spent $12,000 to buy $1,000,000 in medical debt, and forgave it all. The station has since set up a website for people who want to contribute to more medical debt forgiveness.

    [Photo: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman]
    All the organizations that help in the wake of disasters

    Whether it was wildfires, hurricanes (more hurricanes), volcanic eruptions, or migrant children there are always people and organizations willing to jump in and help, whether through on-the-ground-efforts or by donating money to help the victims.

    [Photo: Flickr user Northern Ireland Office]
    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married

    A biracial American joined the British Royal Family.

    White Castle for vegans

    White Castle decided to go green, offering plant-based Impossible Burgers at all 377 of their outlets, making it easier for drunk vegans to scarf down sliders.

    This dog reunion

    In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Collazo family had no choice but to leave Puerto Rico, but there was a problem: They couldn’t bring their dog Melao with them. Melao was more than a pet to the family, though, as he had a special bond with their son, Jonathan, who has Down syndrome. It took nine months, but the family didn’t give up hope of being reunited with their pup. In May of this year, The Sato Project, through their No Dog Left Behind project, worked with Wings of Rescue to get Melao back where he belongs.

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    It me. #Gritty #LetsGoFlyers

    A post shared by Gritty (@grittynhl) on

    The birth of Gritty

    The Philadelphia Flyers wanted a mascot–and they got a doozy. In September, the hockey team unveiled Gritty, a furry orange monster with googly eyes, a dad bod, no apparent ice skating experience, and no fear of a fight with beloved icons. Philadelphia hated him and then loved him all over the course of 24 hours, taking the internet along for the ride. And if Gritty can make it, anyone can.

    People opened their hearts–and wallets

    People really hate the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that is taking children from their parents at the border. The images and audio of confused, scared children crying out for their parents from cages tugged at the heartstrings of anyone who has a heart. To help fight the horrifying policy, people opened their wallets to one organization in particular–the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which is the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. People were so upset about the policy that one Facebook fundraiser alone earned over $20 million to support the group’s work to stop the policy.

    De-platforming

    It became a little harder for Alex Jones to spread his conspiracy theories and harass the parents of Sandy Hook victims when Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more kicked him off their sites for violating their community standards. Then, Facebook banned all things Proud Boys-related in October and the group’s founder Gavin McInnes (who claims to have quit the group) was banned from YouTube. It’s one way to help curb the spread of hate and it just might work. A study published by researchers at Georgia Tech last year looked at the effects of banning Reddit’s most toxic subreddits, and as TechCrunch reports, it resulted in less hate speech elsewhere on the site, particularly among people who were active on those subreddits.


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