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    The fundamental problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we use the holidays as a period of reflection about what we want to change about ourselves, but we don’t take the time to plan effectively for how to actually achieve our goals. So, around New Year’s Day, we energize ourselves to be different in the year to come, but without a path to get there.

    In physics, we know that energy without direction is heat. To accomplish a resolution, you need to have energy and direction. This means that you have to figure out the path before you burn all your energy and (once again) see no results.

    The end of the year is a great time to reflect on where you are in your life. Thinking about what you haven’t yet accomplished, and what aspects of yourself you’d like to improve, are natural to do when one year ends and another begins.

    The trick is to separate the decision to make a change from the day that you are actually putting yourself on the path to change. So take that resolution you made and give yourself the next eight weeks to figure out how you are going to achieve your goal.

    What to do between now and March

    Generate a planfor what needs to be changed and how you will fit new actions in your life. You might even start doing a few of those activities knowing that you might not succeed right off the bat. Behavior change is often two steps forward and one step back. Use these first few weeks to learn how to deal with the steps back so that they don’t derail your long-term success.

    Pay attention to your existing habits. Try to become mindful about the many things you do mindlessly that may get in the way of your success.

    Figure out the other obstacles that may be dragging you back toward your old behaviors. Are there people in your life who are not supporting your attempts to change? Are you making it too easy to do the wrong thing rather than the right one? Generate plans for how you will overcome those obstacles. Make changes to your environment if you need to.

    Find some people in your world who can help you out. They might be friends who have similar goals. They might be mentors or even professionals (like trainers or coaches) who can help you on your way. Don’t expect that you have to do everything yourself.

    Because it takes about eight weeks to work out the details of your behavior change, I think we need a new day of final commitment to resolutions. If you made a resolution, play around with it for the next two months.

    Then, on March 4, make your final commitment to the plan. By taking the time to really work through the details of your behavior change, you give yourself a much better chance of being able to make a different resolution when you start looking back on this year.


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    Transportation Security Administration officers are still calling in sick at higher than usual rates as they’re being asked to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

    TSA spokesperson Michael Bilello said on Twitter Monday that “wait times may be affected” at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the country’s busiest. Some officers are likely calling in sick out of protest, while others may be taking time off since they’re having trouble paying for childcare or need to do other work to make ends meet, CNN recently reported. Union officials have emphasized there’s no coordinated plan for workers to call in sick.

    According to the CNN report, sick calls at DFW were up 200% to 300%, but the agency says the situation isn’t that bad. In a separate tweet, Bilello said about 5.5% of DFW TSA workers called in sick Monday, compared to 3.5% on “a normal day.” That’s roughly a 70% increase.

    Airport media relations manager Cynthia Vega said Monday that operations haven’t been affected by the sick calls.

    “Basically, it’s been the same as what we have experienced in past holiday seasons,” she says. “Normal operations, as far as we’re concerned.”

    Rudy Garcia, president of the American Federation of Government Employees chapter that represents that airport’s TSA workers, declined to comment on the numbers of employees calling in sick, citing security concerns, but he confirmed the shutdown is becoming a financial burden for union members.

    “These folks have to have their bills paid–they have mortgages, they have cars,” he says. “If somebody told you that you’re going to be out of work for two to three months with no income, how’s that going to affect you?”

    While some federal employees at agencies affected by the shutdown are on furlough and told to stay home, TSA officers and other workers deemed essential have been told to report to work, though they likely won’t be paid until Congress and President Trump can agree to a spending bill. Historically, federal employees have received back pay after government shutdowns have been resolved.

    In general, the agency has said the effect of the increased sick calls isn’t significant: Of about 2.22 million passengers screened Sunday, 99.8% waited less than half an hour, and 90.1% waited less than 15 minutes, Bilello said in a text message Monday. Waits for Precheck passengers averaged less than five minutes, he said.

    “We are grateful to the more than 51,000 agents across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems,” he said.

    Airports downplay impact

    Officials at some busy airports have also said callouts haven’t significantly affected passengers. Spokespeople for Denver International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare International airports, and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (which is often reported to serve the most passengers of any airport in the world), all said their facilities weren’t significantly impacted.

    “We had a few increases [in sick calls], but operations are still moving pretty well here,” says Elise Durham, the Atlanta airport’s director of communications. “We are just grateful here at ATL that everything’s still running smoothly.”

    Meanwhile, some screeners at some airports, like San Francisco International Airport, say they are not affected by the shutdown because they are private contracted employees.

    It’s unclear so far how the TSA will resolve the issue, which, if it continues, could require reducing security measures or subjecting flying passengers to longer airport lines. President Trump warned Friday the shutdown could last months or even years if Congress won’t approve funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He’s planning to give a speech on the subject tonight.

    Why not just pay the workers? A century-old law called the Antideficiency Act bans federal agencies from incurring financial obligations when they haven’t received appropriations from Congress. Since 1980, the Justice Department has interpreted the law to require a shutdown of nonessential operations when Congress fails to pass spending bills. It’s a situation essentially unique to the United States: Many other countries simply extend current budgets while legislatures hammer out changes to spending plans.


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    The New Year is the time to make changes to your personal and professional life. If you’re self-employed, it can also be a good time to raise your rates. Charging a higher fee is easy to do with new clients; you simply quote the new price during negotiations. Raising rates with existing clients, however, can be tricky.

    “The underlying concern here is having the confidence to raise prices without losing customers,” says Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. “And if you do, are you prepared to lose those that aren’t willing to pay your new rates? This is a classic dilemma that many freelancers, consultants, and entrepreneurs face.”

    If you know you provide a lot of value and you’re not happy with your current compensation, it’s time for an increase, says Sethi.

    How to Do It

    The best way to approach your increased rate announcement is by learning more about your clients’ needs, suggests Sethi. Through a phone call or survey, ask what services they might be interested in using that you currently aren’t providing.

    Next, email or call clients to announce your rate increase. Remind them of the value you already deliver, such as solving problems or increasing revenue, and state your new rate. If your client provided ideas on new services you could add, consider if they’re something you’d be willing to add with the new rate.

    For example:

    “Hi [client name],

    I’ve enjoyed working with you this year, and I’m glad you’ve been pleased with our results. I look forward to continuing the relationship 2019, and I wanted to let you know I’m going to be making a few changes for the New Year. To ensure that I can continue to provide exceptional service, I will be increasing my rate from $X to $X effective [date.] You mentioned that you could use help with [service]. I will be happy to add that as complimentary part of the new fee structure.

    If the rate increase is an issue, please let me know. I’m happy to recommend other people at a lower price, but I believe the success we’ve had together demonstrates my contribution to your company. I believe at my new rate, I still provide great value.

    I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope things are going well.”

    The important thing is to remain assertive yet polite, says Sethi. “Emphasize the value you can continue to provide and have already provided in the past,” he says. “In other words, your value is telling the client how much time you’re going to save them or how much money they’re going to make with your help.”

    Make It Regular

    Raising your rates each year feels more organic than implementing a one-time increase, says Ed Gandia, coauthor of The Wealthy Freelancer. “After all, businesses across all industries have annual fee increases. It’s something most companies expect,” he writes on his blog High-Income Business Writing.

    For some clients, a rate increase can come as a surprise that wasn’t expected as part of their budget. It can help to provide a grace period. “Set a period where you’ll continue to offer the lower rate,” he writes. “Thirty to 90 days is typical. After that, your higher rate kicks in.”

    Be Prepared If Clients Say “No”

    If you’ve communicated your value and your client refuses to pay the higher rate, that’s okay, says Sethi.

    “You never want to make your clients feel bad, so even if they hesitate or say ‘no,’ you are showing immense value to them by recommending other people who might be a better fit for their budget,” he says. “Always focus on serving your client, which means that your sole focus isn’t to extract as much money from them as possible. It’s to make them successful. When you give as much value as possible to them, they will come back to you at some point in the future or even recommend you to their friends and family.”

    You could also suggest a trial period where you provide the extra services you offered so the client can evaluate the new arrangement. Sethi suggests saying, “If I can do this in the next 30/60/90 days, can we revisit this conversation about keeping me on at my increased rate? And would you be willing to put that in the contract?”

    Any time you raise an existing client’s fees, you run the risk of losing them, says Gandia.

    “So before you try it, think carefully,” he writes. “If you lose this client, how will it impact your business? If it would be devastating, you may want to hold off.”

    Raising your rates can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s better than going through life never raising your rates, says Sethi. “You want customers who appreciate the value you bring to the table, and sometimes that means getting comfortable with the realization that you’re not going to be for everybody,” he says.


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    Close your eyes, and picture a robot. Do you see a C-3PO-like humanoid, metallic and shiny and with a quirky personality? Do you see a Wall-E, with big, puppy-dog eyes that make you feel less alone? Or maybe you see a more sinister, skeleton-like Terminator, with red lasers instead of pupils?

    Whatever you dream up, chances are the robot has a face and some kind of humanoid form. So many of the robots that are in public or private spaces, designed to interact with humans in some way, do–especially social robots with cutesy names such as Kuri and Jibo. Even this coffee-making robot barista, which consists of just a robotic arm but was designed to wave and inspect its environment with a humanlike personality. There’s a simple explanation for this. People tend to anthropomorphize all objects anyway, whether it’s a bunch of metal hard-wired together or a series of geometric shapes. Putting a human face on a bot serves as one way to make our sci-fi reality seem much less threatening. That’s why robots designed to welcome people to various spaces, like retail stores, hotels, transportation, and other places, are usually humanoid, using humanlike expressions, gestures, and language to communicate to guests that they’re welcome in an environment.

    [Image: courtesy miLAB/IDC Herzliya]

    But are their overtly humanoid forms even necessary, especially when they can be complex to design, manufacture, and maintain? Do robots really need faces?

    A new study from researchers at the Media Innovation Lab (miLAB) at Israel’s IDC Herzliya and Cornell attempts to answer this question, and upend the current paradigm that the easiest way to help humans trust robots is make them seem as human as possible. Instead, the researchers show that you don’t necessarily need to slap a humanlike face on a robot for it to communicate effectively. That means that it’s possible to create robots that are aesthetically and mechanically simple that can use the barest of gestures to interact with people. What’s more, the lack of a humanlike face on a bot can help to mitigate our corresponding expectation that the robot has some measure of human intelligence–and our frustration when it does not.

    To see how people would react to a totally abstracted robot, the team had to build one first. They decided to focus their efforts on creating a robot that could perform a greeting, like you might see in a retail store. That proved harder than it seemed, because the robot’s form couldn’t resemble any type of robot participants might recognize. The resulting “Greeting Machine,” as they call it, is a small white sphere that can freely move around a larger white sphere, almost like a moon orbiting a planet. The bot’s curved edges were inspired by research showing that people tend to view curvilinear shapes as warmer and friendlier than shapes with hard edges.

    To create movements that people would perceive as greetings, the team called in some experts–an animator, a puppeteer, a choreographer, and a comic artist–who created four different gestures that the researchers could test out on participants to get their reactions. In two of the gestures, the small ball moved toward the participant. The team called these “approaches.” The other two were “avoid” gestures, where the ball moved away from the participant. Even though there was no explicit intention whatsoever to these movements, the participants overwhelmingly perceived the approach gestures as welcoming, positive, and warm, while regarding the avoid movements as a signal that the robot didn’t want to interact with them.

    [Photo: courtesy miLAB/IDC Herzliya]

    “An interaction that lasted a few seconds with an abstract robot performing minimal movement led to rich descriptions of opening encounters both negative and positive,” senior research scientist and paper co-author Hadas Erel told IEEE Spectrum. “People attributed intent and emotions to the robot’s gestures, and the social interpretations were extremely consistent between participants.”

    In other words, the simple, two-sphere robot could give either a positive or negative first impression–and even elicit complex emotional reactions–just through abstract movement. One person responded to the avoid gesture by saying, “When I would walk in and it would face away from me, it was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to you.’ It’s weird, because it’s an object and it shouldn’t make me feel anything, but it did. It’s the same as if a person wouldn’t want to talk to you.”

    The study suggests that we are doomed to see anthropomorphic intention in everything, even if it’s just code and metal. Designers don’t need to slap a face on a robot for people to view it in a social way.

    As Cornell professor Guy Hoffman points out, humanoid design of robots doesn’t follow Dieter Rams’s principle that good design is honest design, because a robot that looks like a human overpromises what that robot can actually do. “With designs like the Greeting Machine, we are trying to exemplify ‘honest’ robot design, while also arguing that this minimal design can still enable a deep emotional, social, and psychological effect,” Hoffman tells IEEE Spectrum.

    The research opens up the door to more creative ways to think about human-machine interaction beyond google-y eyes, cute names, and adoring faces. Even if the robot has no face, we’ll find humanity in it anyway.


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    Hulu’s 2018 report card is in, and the streaming service has posted some noteworthy gains.

    Hulu added 8 million subscribers in 2018, bringing its total to 25 million subscribers across all products (including its live TV offering). Advertising revenue grew 45% from 2017 to reach nearly $1.5 billion, and the average time subscribers spent on Hulu increased 20%. Hulu also expanded its number of TV episodes to more than 85,000, which Hulu claims is the most of any U.S. streaming service. It even has Killing Eve, which even Netflix thinks you should watch on Hulu!

    Hulu’s clean bill of health couldn’t have come at a more important time for the company as it braces for even more competition than Netflix, WarnerMedia, and Amazon. Disney, which owns a majority stake in Hulu since its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, is also set to launch its own streaming platform this year. And Apple and its gilded roster of talent and creators is rumored to roll out its streaming service in 2019 as well. But Hulu has been counted out ever since it was first announced almost 12 years ago, and it’s still here. And it’s growing while a lot of its rivals are still PowerPoint slides.


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    To mark what would have been David Bowie’s 72nd birthday, the musical innovator is getting an innovative app. The David Bowie Is . . . augmented-reality app is based on the record-breaking museum exhibition of the same name, which toured the world before ending after a run at New York’s Brooklyn Museum last year. The app features more than 400 items to explore, including video and images from Bowie’s life on and off camera, complete with a musical soundtrack, and narration from Oscar-winning actor Gary Oldman.

    As the creators put it, the app gains you access to all the exhibits: “Without the entire exhibition in the intimacy of your own environment, without glass barriers, vitrines, or throngs of visitors.” Considering how crowded the show was at the Brooklyn Museum, you may not have been able to read handwritten lyric sheets over the shoulder of a tall flannel-clad guy, but thanks to the app you now have the opportunity. The David Bowie Is AR mobile app is the first release from a collaboration between the David Bowie Archive and Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc., which hosted the exhibition in Tokyo in 2017. They conscripted New York-based studio Planeta to design and develop the AR/VR versions of the original museum experience.

    The app is available in iOS and Android and requires headphones and a little patience to figure out. Once you’re used to twisting your phone around to find the best angles to view the virtual items, the AR adaptation takes you on a tour of the museum show, walking through virtual rooms as if you were in the museum itself, complete with an accompanying audiovisual tour of the artifacts from Bowie’s impressive life. There are 3D renderings of his costumes, videos, handwritten lyrics, storyboards, and even diary entries–all rendered in 360-degree detail for up-close viewing. With the app, you can zoom in on lyric sheets and rotate the outlandish costumes a full 360 degrees.

    The app also has exclusive content that wasn’t at the show, including film from Bowie’s from the 1974 Diamond Dogs Tour, footage from the experimental Diamond Dogs movie, rehearsal footage from the 1976 Station to Station Tour, and more.

    While it doesn’t quite measure up to the experience of seeing the show in person, if you’re agoraphobic, or the show didn’t come near your home, or you went to the show but couldn’t fully enjoy it through the throngs of visitors, the app is a close second.

    Besides, how often do you get to have Gary Oldman whispering in your ear about David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane costumes?


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    The 11th annual Doodle for Google art contest kicked off on The Tonight Show last night with a little help from a certain frog.

    To appeal to the kids these days, Google enlisted Kermit the Frog to announce the opening of the drawing competition on the late-night talk show. The contest asks students across the U.S. to make a work of art based around this year’s theme: “When I grow up, I hope . . . ” The winning art will be featured on the Google home page for a day.

    The contest is open to K-12 students with the imagination to envision a not-too-far-off future world. It should be noted that Google is probably hoping for something that is less like a Mad Max-esque burning hellscape, and more along the lines of pizza teleportation devices, cloud cities, edible cars, or time machines. That is, ideas that remind us of a time when the future didn’t seem like we were headed toward . . . a Mad Max-esque burning hellscape.

    This year’s entries will be judged by Jimmy Fallon, Kermit the Frog (or more likely Matt Vogel who voices Kermit), and 2018’s National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning. In addition to seeing their work on the Google home page, the winning artist will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and the winner’s school will receive a $50,000 technology grant.

    For inspiration, check out the Doodle created by last year’s winner, Sarah Gomez-Lane, which is on the Google home page now.

    For more details, head to doodle4google.com, where you can find full contest rules and entry forms. While submissions are now open, there’s no need to rush your inner creative genius—the deadline isn’t until March 18.


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    You’ve enjoyed your job. And you’re really darned good at it. But you’re starting to feel the itch.

    It may not be a full-blown burn (yet), but you’re wondering what it might be like to go do something else–in another department, city, or entirely different organization. And you know people who might be supremely helpful.

    There’s just one small problem: You work with them. They’re a client, or a business partner, or a company your team works closely with. Or, they’re sitting just a table or office away and you have your eye on making an internal transfer.

    Basically, the people best-equipped to help you explore your next career opportunity are kind of (or completely) the last people who can know that you’re thinking about making a change.

    If this is your challenge, fear not–you can still make progress without jeopardizing your job. You just need to proceed with care and a good strategy. Here are five tips that will help guide you in how to network at work:

    1. Volunteer for special projects

    Are there opportunities available at your company to volunteer for stretch assignments, special projects, or cross-functional committees? If you have designs on shifting to another group within your current organization, raise your hand for any and all of these assignments.

    By working on something with a new set of people, you’ll not only have the chance to learn about other departments and network with coworkers on those teams, you’ll gain exposure well beyond your current scope that may help in padding your resume, should you decide to make the switch.

    Be sure to capitalize on that exposure, too. Ask your teammates questions about what they’re working on, the challenges they face, the skills they’ve built, the people they’ve worked with, or the best parts of their jobs. You can certainly show interest and gain some helpful knowledge or connections without appearing suspicious–after all, you’re just making small talk!–and these types of projects provide a great opportunity to do so.

    2. Knock their socks off

    Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Hmmmm . . . my top customer sure would be a great point person if I’m thinking about shifting into [field/company].” Before I go further, I’ll say flat-out that this is one of those moments when you should proceed with extreme caution. You don’t want to screw up a customer relationship and your current employment by overstepping your boundaries.

    If you’re feeling like a client or colleague could be a great person to network with, make sure you’re consistently knocking it out of the park and excelling at the work you do for them. Show that person what a valuable and irreplaceable asset you are, day in and day out. Folks who see how great you are at your job will be that much more inclined to hire you or recommend you to someone else in the future.

    Also, express interest in that person’s work, their goals, and their life outside the office (just don’t get too personal). People love it when they feel valued and noticed, and they’ll often be more than willing to return the goodwill if you’ve been an ally and someone who has helped make their job easier.

    3. Make it a long game

    If you’re not pants-on-fire dying to make a move, view this as a long game versus a rush. Focus on building relationships and trust with the people you think (or know) may be beneficial to your career path.

    There’s plenty of truth to the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But the real benefit of networking goes beyond simply knowing someone. It’s also about how they feel about you and your capabilities, your personality, and your work ethic.

    So, say you’re working at your company’s Chicago office and hoping to transfer to the Seattle location within the next year or so. Now would be the time to get to know your counterparts in Seattle. Certainly, you don’t want to be disingenuous about it (people can smell that a mile away), but if your job gives you plausible reason to communicate with, demonstrate your talents to, and win over those colleagues, start the process well before your itch becomes an inferno. When the time comes for you to apply for that transfer, you’ll feel confident your coworkers are eager to have you hop on board their team–and will advocate willingly for you.

    4. Keep a lid on complaining

    No matter who you’re trying to connect with, resist the temptation to say anything negative about your current job. Nothing turns off a key client not only from doing business with you, but also from being your career guide like badmouthing your current company–even if it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with your specific role, team, or manager.

    The same goes for current colleagues, whether they’re down the hall or across the country. Focus your energies on expanding your network and expertise and maintaining a positive professional image instead.

    5. Don’t count on people to keep the secret

    This is an important final thought: As close as you might feel to your colleagues and clients, you can’t always count on them not to spread the word if you divulge that you’re kind of, sort of looking for something new. It’s not that they’re purposefully trying to ruin your plans–it’s just that sometimes people really like feeling “in the know” when in water cooler (or happy hour) conversations, and as a result, tend to spill the beans.

    If you’re not flat-out ready for others (aka your boss) to know you’re sniffing around, it’s probably best to keep your ideas or intentions on the down-low.

    Again, do some positioning. Ask curious questions. Get exposure beyond your current department, office location, or company. As highlighted above, you can do all these things without revealing your true motives–networking is ultimately about more than just saying “help me find a job.” Just don’t count on anyone but your besties to keep a lid on it.

    There’s nothing wrong with networking on the job as long as you’re keeping on top of your tasks, being genuine, and continuing to show loyalty and respect for your current employer. By having a strong work ethic and eagerness to learn, you’ll immediately attract the right kind of attention from the right kinds of people who can set you on a path to success.


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

    More from The Muse:


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    Lin-Manuel Miranda has just earned himself some good press–and it has nothing to do with Hamilton.

    Miranda and three of his Hamilton collaborators (okay, fine, it had a little to do with Hamilton) teamed up to save a New York theater landmark–the century-old Drama Book Shop. The Theater District store, which sells scripts, sheet music, and everything a burgeoning theater geek needs to read, recently announced it was being forced to move from its current location on West 40th Street in Manhattan. The Hamilton team pledged to find the store an affordable space in Midtown, the New York Timesreports, and they are working with the city to save the cultural institution.

    Miranda confirmed the report on Twitter, writing: “As a teen, I went to the @dramabookshop on 47th. Spent hours reading plays. Felt made for me, a place to go. In 2002, I met with Tommy Kail in the Drama Book Shop. It gave us a place to go. Proud to be part of this next chapter. A place for you to go.”

    Miranda; Thomas Kail, the director of Hamilton; Jeffrey Seller, the show’s lead producer; and James L. Nederlander, the president of the Nederlander Organization; purchased the store from Rozanne Seelen, “for the cost of the remaining inventory, some rent support in the store’s final weeks, and a pledge to retain her as a consultant,” the Times reports.

    While the store has to move from its Times Square location in the next few weeks, the city is working with the new owners to find a midtown space with a rent that the reborn Drama Book Shop can afford to pay, so it can keep selling scripts to folks who want to be the next Lin-Manuel Miranda.


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    Growth mind-set has come a long way in the past six months.

    This past year, as part of an industry research project, the NeuroLeadership Institute conducted 20 in-depth interviews with some of the world’s largest organizations. The goal was to learn more about how leaders personalize and implement growth mind-set–the belief that you can always get better at something through effort (and time), and that people are motivated to do their work as a result of their desire to grow.

    We discovered quite a bit, and found ourselves most intrigued by the myths about growth mind-set, which included the idea that growth mind-set referred only to a focus on profits, or that it meant an employee’s plate could endlessly expand to take on more tasks.

    Along the same lines, some leaders thought that growth mind-set meant that talent was irrelevant, and that people with a growth mind-set could achieve anything. While admirable, this attitude may distract employees from the work they do best and cause performance to suffer.

    Most of the leaders in our sample were putting growth mind-set to use roughly in terms that help employees grow and succeed. But for those that bought into the myths, the science of learning offers a valuable window into how to improve in the future.

    The science of mythmaking

    Growth mind-set, like algebra or playing the piano, comes with a bit of a learning curve. For instance, it requires an understanding that at times, we fall into a fixed mind-set–the belief that traits are set in stone (and you’ll always be that terrible cook you once were). In these cases, our task is to tilt toward growth and tell ourselves that those traits are, indeed, malleable. Indeed, it may be most accurate to say we use a whole panoply of growth and fixed mind-sets, depending on the skill we’re employing.

    When people are set on doing the work to build their growth mind-set, many will rely on the same strategies that they use for learning other skills. Specifically, the brain will look to personalize the concept by weaving it into mental structures that already exist. It’s a well-established component of learning: People retain things better when they can connect a new idea to old ones.

    Just as we might develop ingenious mnemonic devices in math class or practice songs we enjoy listening to, leaders can tailor their interpretation of growth mind-set based on what means the most to them. At the NeuroLeadership Institute, we have a saying that captures this phenomenon: “Meaning makes memory.”

    That’s great for retention, but it doesn’t guarantee accuracy. Dangers may arise if leaders start projecting incorrect meanings onto growth mind-set that don’t fit the scientific concept. An overwhelmed leader, for example, might interpret growth mind-set to be a never-ending workload because that interpretation helps solve their problem. And it’s probably not surprising that a leader who conflates growth mind-set with profits is worried about next quarter’s earnings. Because they prioritize productivity and profits, they may interpret growth mind-set through those lenses.

    How to make growth mind-set work for an organization

    With those insights in mind, leaders can get the most out of growth mind-set by staying true to its definition: a focus on improving–rather than proving–themselves. Research suggests they should look for overlaps between the issues that matter most to them, and what growth mind-set entails. This is another crucial aspect to cultivating a growth mind-set culture. Leaders need to communicate an accurate definition of growth mind-set, and model it in their behavior.

    As our research has indicated, growth mind-set doesn’t have to come at the expense of concrete business results, and leaders can utilize them to complement and reinforce those goals. Leaders should be deliberate in how they frame expected outcomes with their team members. For instance, when leaders are discussing sales figures, they can ask about critical learnings from past deals that went well, and those that fell through. Both quantitative and qualitative growth can be examined, as well as how one reinforces the other. By getting clear on growth mind-set, you can get clear on how it fits into your growth strategy overall.


    Andrea Derler is the director of industry research at the NeuroLeadership Institute. David Rock is the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute


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    At the end of 2018, California gave final approval for new building codes that will require every new home built in the state to come equipped with rooftop solar, or source power from a community solar array–starting in 2020. From a sustainability policy perspective, this is a huge step forward. “It’s definitely a bold move,” says Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancement for the California Solar and Storage Association (CalSSA), which pushed for the mandate to pass. California is the first state in the country to adopt such a mandate, and it will apply to the approximately 80,000 new homes built in the state every year. The code also requires new construction to have more rigorous efficiency measures–like thicker insulation and tighter sealing doors–and encourages building developers and solar providers to add onsite battery storage and solar-powered water-heating systems alongside the rooftop arrays.

    Some critical energy experts point out that because residences fall far below other sectors like transportation or agriculture in terms of emissions, mandating that homes go all-in on solar won’t do much to help the state reach its goal of lowering emissions by 40% by 2030. But the hyperfocus on emissions statistics misses the implication of this policy. It demonstrates that political will for a change of this scale is possible (albeit in climate policy-friendly California)–and that we can make swift and necessary advancements in both the residential construction and solar industries.

    For housing developers, rooftop solar (or in shady areas where rooftop arrays are not viable, connection to a community solar farm) now must become another item on the checklist for building homes, like safe electrical wiring or a kitchen sink. To make this happen, the connections between the building industry and the solar sector will have to tighten. Ed Fenster, cofounder of the solar company Sunrun, says his business is already working with five of the top 10 residential developers in the state on putting solar on new homes set to go to market in 2020.

    [Photo: Sunrun]
    To comply with the mandate, developers now must absorb the cost of sourcing and installing a solar array on a home, which averages out to around $9,500 per home. Homeowners who elect to purchase the solar array along with their home will have to absorb that cost in the form of slightly higher mortgages (which has been a point of contention in a state already grappling with extremely high housing costs). But Knutsen says that over the course of 30 years, homeowners can expect to save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs. Put differently, a solar array will add around $40 to a monthly mortgage but save a homeowner around $80 in the same month on heating, cooling, and lighting–netting them a monthly savings of $40.

    Adjusting to this new way of calculating costs will be a process for people looking to buy homes in California, Fenster says, but it’s not the only option for prospective homeowners to comply with the mandate. The California code also allows new homeowners to opt to lease their rooftop solar array from the solar provider. Sunrun, for instance, specializes in solar leasing plans under which the company retains ownership and control of the solar array, but charges residents a small fee (around $100 per month, depending on the size and type of panels) to use it. Leasing, Fenster says, is a way to keep housing affordability (to the extent that it exists in California) in sight as the mandate rolls out. Making the various options clear to homeowners upon purchasing–and forging connections with solar operators–will be a point of focus for residential developers in the next year.

    Lennar, a residential developer based in California but with projects across the country, already has a formula down. In 2012, Lennar built out a solar subsidiary, SunStreet, which specializes in integrating solar into the home construction process. Rather than retrofitting a solar array onto a roof, which entails an installation and wiring process, SunStreet builds the array into the roof and connects it to the electrical system as the construction is under way. This model, Knutsen says, will be something for builders and solar providers alike to look to as they adapt. David Kaiserman, SunStreet founder and Lennar president, says that his ventures are planning to offer guidance to other developers and solar providers looking to streamline solar integrations going forward.

    For both the building and solar industries, this will be a significant change. Of the 120,000 residential solar installs that happen every year in California, 105,000 are retrofits on existing homes, and only 15,000 built along with new homes. The mandate will raise the number of new-home solar installations by 65,000. Solar companies are expert, now, at developing and marketing portable arrays that can be added onto rooftops. But Knutsen says the spike in demand for solar on new homes will likely force a change in their business model to a more integrated approach, like SunStreet’s. This should also pique the interest of developers, who will likely gravitate toward this approach as a way to speed construction. If solar can be built along with the house, rather than installed only after it’s completed, the overall construction time will remain fairly quick.

    But there are still plenty of homes that need retrofitting as well. Fenster believes that solar providers like his company, Sunrun, should be preparing for an influx of demand. “The benefit of this mandate is the normalization that solar on every home creates,” Fenster says. “The effort to acquire a new customer often declines as the number of homes with solar in a given area rises because you’re not asking someone to be the first zip code to do something unfamiliar.” Fenster predicts that the rooftop solar mandate will continue to drive demand for both solar and onsite battery storage, and set a higher threshold for energy efficiency in the state. “Just as when you pick up a new iPhone, you can’t bear to use the old one anymore, now all the new homes will have solar, and people will feel the same desire to upgrade,” he says.


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    Just like last year, Google is trying to make a big splash at the CES tech industry trade show in Las Vegas. Google says its convention center booth is three times bigger than last year’s, and the company has brought along a slew of product announcements in tandem with third-party device makers. As before, the goal is to impress Google’s partners and the public in hopes of getting them to embrace the company’s virtual assistant.

    “Last CES was, in a lot of ways, a ‘the Google Assistant has arrived’ kind of moment,” Nick Fox, Google’s head of product and design for Search and Assistant, said in an interview before the show. “This year is really capturing the momentum and forward progress beyond that.”

    Here’s a rundown of everything Google is announcing during CES 2019:

    • A smart clock: Google is working with Lenovo on a bedside smart display with a 4-inch touchscreen and clock features such as alarm suggestions and gentle wakeup routines. It’s an answer of sorts to Amazon’s Echo Spot.
    • A new Smart Display: KitchenAid is making a 10-inch, splashproof display for kitchen counters with Google Assistant built in. It’ll function similarly to previous Google-powered Smart Displays, but will have recipes and cooking instructions from Yummly on board.
    • Interpreter mode: Within the next few weeks, you’ll be able to say “Hey, Google, be my Spanish interpreter” to begin real-time translation. Google is also testing this at a handful of hotel concierge desks.
    • Mobile features: With the Google Assistant app on iOS and Android, you’ll soon be able to check into United Airlines flights, book a hotel room, and take notes in outside apps (including Google Keep, Any.do, Todoist, and Bring).
    • Auto-punctuation: When you send a message through Google Assistant on iOS or Android, it will automatically add punctuation so you don’t have to say things like “comma” and “period” while dictating.
    • Google Maps integration: Now you can talk to Google Assistant straight from Google Maps for sending messages, playing music, sharing your arrival time with contacts, and of course getting directions.
    • An ambitious-sounding smart home initiative: Google says it’s previewing something called “Google Assistant Connect,” which will let other companies add Assistant interaction to low-cost hardware. Examples might include an E Ink display that shows calendar or weather information, or an air conditioner that accepts voice commands, with the actual computing offloaded to a separate Google Home speaker. It sounds like very early days for the initiative as Google didn’t announce any specific products.
    • TV integration: Google’s Android TV software is popping up on more television sets, including ones from Sony, Hisense, Philips, TCL, Skyworth, Xiaomi, Haier, Changhong, JVC, and Toshiba. A few of them will even have built-in microphones for Google Assistant voice commands. Samsung TVs will be getting basic Google Assistant integration as well, and Dish Hopper DVRs will let you talk to Google through their voice remotes.
    • No unlock necessary: Users of Google’s Pixel phones can already access Assistant from the lock screen, but Google is now extending the feature to other Android phones. You’ll have to enable this in Google Assistant’s settings menu.

    Google already announced this week that Assistant is available on 1 billion devices, and that active users have quadrupled since last January. The company now says Assistant works with 10,000 devices from more than 1,000 home automation brands, up from 1,500 devices and 225 brands last January. That’s still far behind rival Amazon, which announced support for 28,000 devices from 4,500 brands in December, but it’s still an impressive amount of growth, and perhaps a sign that the CES charm offensive is paying off.


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    In the future, making salsa could involve simply forking a spicy tomato with a tortilla chip.

    Some presumably spaghetti-al’arrabiata-loving scientists have realized that CRISPR can be used to make spicy tomatoes by using the gene-editing technology to turn on nascent spicy genes within the tomatoes themselves.

    As you may recall from high school biology–or from the bottle of Tabasco that you dumped in your Bloody Mary–what gives peppers their spiciness are molecules called capsaicinoids, which can be found in arthritis creams, pepper spray, and, of course, jalapeño peppers. Peppers are the only plants that naturally produce those spicy molecules, but peppers apparently take a lot of work to cultivate.

    That’s why a group of researchers in Brazil and Ireland suggest using CRISPR to turn tomatoes into capsaicinoid-producing machines, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Trends in Plant Science. “Capsaicinoids are very valuable compounds; they are used in [the] weapons industry for pepper spray, they are also used for anesthetics [and] there is some research showing that they promote weight loss,” Agustin Zsögön of the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil, co-author of an article, told The Guardian.

    However, because peppers are hard to grow, he argues that it’s worth engineering spicy tomatoes–and not just for the salsa, but as a cost-effective way to create a potentially important molecular compound (the shrimp fra diavolo opportunities don’t hurt, either).

    Tomatoes and peppers come from a common long-ago ancestor, so the capsaicinoids are buried in their DNA somewhere, but are not active. That’s where science comes in. Using a gene-editing technology, like the much-touted Crispr-Cas9, scientists can switch those dormant spicy genes back on in tomatoes. According to The Guardian, Zsögön and his team are already working on the feat, and say they hope to have some news by the end of the year. Even if you’re opposed to eating GMOs normally, having a spicy tomato plant growing in your backyard could be pretty appealing at least for re-creating this commercial:


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    Nonprofits face some serious trust issues: About a third of Americans don’t trust charitable groups to spend their funds well, and more than 60% of people globally don’t have faith that groups can accomplish their missions. But groups that perform well may be able to raise more money simply by becoming more transparent: People like having the opportunity to vet places themselves before making a contribution.

    That’s the key takeaway from a recent study published in Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance. Researchers from Villanova University and University of Wisconsin found that charities earning a seal of transparency from the nonprofit GuideStar gained an average of 53% more contributions one year later. Those ratings currently cover four levels, each with differing degrees of public disclosure (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum). And the more transparent a group gets, the potentially bigger the bounce. For instance, silver-level awardees earned roughly 26% more contributions than those with bronze.

    “The aim of the program is really to recognize organizations for being transparent, for sharing information in a structured and comparable format on GuideStar,” says Eva Nico, GuideStar’s senior director of Nonprofit Programs. “We believe that actually allows donors to support more effective nonprofits because they can find out how a nonprofit works and operates.” For nonprofits, there are other benefits, including being able to more clearly understand how others in their sector operate and to what effect. That might entice groups with similar missions to refine their efforts or even join forces.

    [Images: courtesy GuideStar]

    For the study, researchers analyzed data from 2013 and 2014, the first year GuideStar began offering their certification process, which is free. The seals, of course, all have different standards, ranging from basic program information (bronze), to deeper financials (silver), to more about goals and strategies (gold). In 2016, GuideStar added the platinum seal, which involves quantifying progress and results.

    Once a group earns a seal, it is affixed to their profile on the service. Nonprofits can also advertise that achievement on their own materials free of charge. For potential donors, GuideStar also has a search function that allows people to look for groups by what seal they earned. In general, GuideStar reports that that profiles with gold or platinum seals now receive twice the views of other profiles. In 2017, 78% of the nonprofits that earned contributions directly through the organization’s donation portal had some sort of seal.

    Since the inception of the seals, a lot more nonprofits are seeking that boost. While the initial study looked at more than 6,000 groups, the service now has more than 66,000 that received some sort of seal, something GuideStar hopes to learn about in future studies. “In some cases we have heard of funders who explicitly asked organizations to earn a particular seal,” Nico adds. “It makes it easier for them to get comparable information about organizations, and then they believe that it also helps that organization reach a broader audience.” It also gives GuideStar a lot of power in deciding which organizations get funding.


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    In a speech that will neither get the government running again nor change anyone’s mind about anything, U.S. President Donald Trump will address the nation tonight in an attempt to make a prime-time case for his wall along the southern border–an effort most Americans have already said they don’t support. Trump is expected to discuss what he calls a “humanitarian and national security crisis,” although reports conflict about whether he will actually declare an emergency, as he has previously threatened.

    All the major TV networks have agreed to air the address, despite widespread backlash from critics who point to the president’s routine falsehoods and say media outlets should not help him spread political propaganda. Democrats, meanwhile, have demanded equal time, so networks will also air a rebuttal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

    If you’re a cord cutter who wants to watch the speech and rebuttal online, the address is slated to begin at 9 p.m. ET and will stream live on C-SPAN or the YouTube channel for PBS NewsHour. I’ve also embedded the video below. If you have access to a video streaming service, you can watch the address on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News, all of which will broadcast the speech simultaneously and include their own analysis.

    Correction: This article has been updated to correctly identify Nancy Pelosi as house speaker, not senator. 


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    Actress Brie Larson wants young women and girls to go see Captain Marvel—and not just because she stars in the movie.

    On Twitter, a clearly cool teacher told Larson that she had showed the Captain Marvel trailer to her students and created a classroom full of young female fans. Larson responded by writing that she thought a #CaptainMarvelChallenge was in order. The hashtag-driven campaign stemmed from a GoFundMe fundraising drive created last year by Frederick Joseph that ended up raising over $50,000 to send kids to see Black Panther in the movie theater.

    The #BlackPantherChallenge, in turn, sparked a global movement that raised nearly $1 million to send tens of thousands of kids all around the world to Wakanda from the comfort of a theater seat.

    Inspired by Larson’s tweet, GoFundMe today announced that Joseph has partnered with Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles and We Have Stories to launch a new GoFundMe campaign to get young girls to see Brie Larson play Captain Marvel. The film is Marvel’s first woman-led move and focuses on fighter pilot Carol Danvers’s rise to become the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If the Girl Power theme wasn’t already clear, the film will open on March 8, which is International Woman’s Day, during Women’s History Month.

    If you want young women to have the chance to see that women can be superheroes in the Marvel universe—or at least have something to watch until Wonder Woman 2 comes out—donate here.


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    The Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), which is holding its CES show in Las Vegas this week, is under fire for taking back an innovation award it gave to Lora DiCarlo’s Ose personal massager, a sex toy the organization retroactively classified as “immoral, obscene, indecent, [or] profane.”

    [Photo: courtesy of Ose]
    The mostly female-staffed startup got word from the CEA that it had been named as an honoree in the robotics and drone category. But at the end of that same month, the CTA sent another email saying they were revoking the award.

    A CES spokeswoman provided this statement via email:

    The product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CTA has communicated this position to Lora DiCarlo. We have apologized to the company for our mistake.

    TechCrunch reports that CES has also banned DiCarlo from exhibiting at CES.

    Now DiCarlo is appealing the CTA’s decision. The startup’s founder and CEO, Lora Haddock (pictured above), has also gone on a PR offensive. She wrote an open letter Tuesday calling out the CEA for using double standards when giving its awards. She points out that CES has given awards to makers of a number of sex-focused tech products in the past, including B.sensory and OhMiBod in 2016. She also points out that CES allowed a VR porn company to show its stuff at CES in 2017, and that a sex robot for men was exhibited in 2018.

    Haddock makes a compelling case for her company’s product:

    You see, we’re doing something that has never been done before–we’re making the world’s first hands-free device for the holy grail of orgasms–the blended orgasm. Our almost entirely female team of engineers is developing new micro-robotic technology that mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels just like a real partner.

    The CTA today announced that it will invest $10 million in venture funding focused on “women, people of color, and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs.”

    But no more female sex toys, apparently. CES is a family show.

    Sources:VentureBeat, TechCrunch, Motherboard


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    A partial government shutdown has put thousands of federal employees temporarily out of work and forced others to work without pay. It’s also caused the closure of federal operations ranging from the Smithsonian Institution’s museums to critical payments to Native American groups.

    But if the shutdown continues to drag on, even more people and programs could be affected. Additional agencies will run out of funds to manage their operations, and people looking to claim food benefits, utilize federal courts, or simply file their taxes could all see disruptions.

    Here’s some of the potential issues coming down the pipeline:

    • Federal courts. As of Friday, the federal court system will run out of funding, Fortune reports, forcing nonessential staff to stay home on unpaid furlough. Courts are expected to essentially triage cases, likely prioritizing criminal matters since defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to speedy trials. Civil cases, still quite important to people involved in them, could be delayed. Immigration courts, already largely shut down, are prioritizing people who are in detention, Roll Call reports.
    • Tax refunds. Tax refunds and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assistance to taxpayers seeking to understand the new tax code changes will likely be affected if the government isn’t funded by at latest the end of this month. The Trump administration has said the IRS can pay out refunds during a shutdown, but the agency is operating with a skeleton staff. The agency is normally expected to start processing returns by the end of January, the AARP reports. Quarterly estimated tax payments, owed by freelancers, small business owners, and others whose taxes aren’t covered by traditional withholding, are due January 15. Experts say taxpayers should file and make payments as normal, though IRS officials may not be available to answer any questions.
    • Federal scientists. Scientists at agencies from NASA to the National Weather Service will miss important conferences, including the Meeting of the American Astronomical Society scheduled for this week. Even outside scientists who receive federal funding might not be able to pay for visits to share their research with colleagues from around the world, ABC News reports. Top tech regulators, like Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, also canceled appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. It’s unclear whether Trump will make a scheduled trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month.
    • USDA. Farmers whose crop sales have been impacted by ongoing trade disputes with China and other countries were given until January 15 to apply for federal aid, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is largely closed due to the shutdown and hasn’t been processing applications. The USDA may extend the deadline, Politico reports.
    • SEC. Companies planning to go public, potentially including big tech startups like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, may be forced to delay their plans due to the shutdown. That’s because employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates public offerings, are on furlough. The longer the government stays shut down, the more IPOs and other corporate actions like mergers may have to be delayed.
    • Weather training. National Hurricane Center training sessions for local emergency managers in hurricane-prone areas are scheduled for next week, and it’s unclear when and if they can be rescheduled, the Washington Post reports. National Weather Service forecasting models have also begun to deteriorate in accuracy during the shutdown, according to the Post.
    • National parks. The National Park Service will start using entrance fees to fund some basic operations under a memorandum issued this past weekend, though some have warned that might violate federal law, the Washington Post reports. Situations in national parks, many of which are open but massively understaffed with few workers on hand to monitor visitors or clean up garbage and bathrooms, have reportedly deteriorated as litter and human waste pile up. Some parks have been closed or had access restricted due to unsafe conditions, and some states have taken up funding for parks in their jurisdictions.
    • SNAP benefits. Food aid programs that feed almost 39 million people could run into trouble next month, Politico reports. The USDA, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)–formerly known as food stamps–hasn’t commented on its plans or how much money it has in reserve to fund the program.
    • Veterans’ services. Veterans’ benefits are funded through September, CBS reports, and shutdowns have historically been resolved in three weeks or less. But if the shutdown actually lasts months or years, as Trump has declared, they could be endangered as well.

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    Tired of cable news talking heads screaming at each other about the border wall crisis and the government shutdown? Overwhelmed by the fusillade of administration lies? Unsure about the real facts?

    Well, we’ve got a handy guide to all the falsehoods you’ll likely hear tonight in President Trump’s big immigration speech at 9 p.m. And to track the preponderance of mistruths, here’s a bingo board you can print out at home.

    View larger image here. [Photo Illustration: Samir Abady; Trump: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

    The “Crisis”

    • Claim: Trump has consistently expressed alarmist sentiments about illegal immigration across the southern border—calling it an “invasion,” screaming that people are “flooding our country,” and calling it a crisis.
      Truth: In truth, apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are at their lowest level since the early 1970s, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statistics.
    • Claim: Trump likes to recite a litany of crimes he claims are committed by Mexicans and Central American immigrants, almost always emphasizing the few tragic cases of Americans injured or killed by illegal immigrants.
      Truth: In truth, illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans (about 56% fewer convictions, according to the Cato Institute).
    • Claim: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Friday that 3,000 “special interest aliens” had been apprehended trying to enter the country from the southern border, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that 4,000 suspected or known terrorists had entered the country illegally, implying that it was through the southern border.
      Truth: But “special interest aliens” is a term that applies to anyone who comes from a country that has ever produced a terrorist, as Fox News’s Chris Wallace noted. And the overwhelming majority of the 4,000 cited by Sanders were taken into custody at airports.
    • Claim: Trump has also mongered the fear with such claims, including this one in the Rose Garden last Friday: “We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.”
      Truth: Yet that’s not the case according to his own State Department, which issued a report in September finding “no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.”
    • Claim: Trump has also repeatedly invoked unbelievably high numbers—up to $275 billion—to express the cost of illegal immigration.
      Truth: The real cost and benefit of undocumented immigrants is incalculable, since it’s hard to determine, and some crucial metrics are impossible to calculate. (That said, the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector did a rough calculus a few years ago of services received minus tax contributions and came up with $54 billion a year, much lower than Trump’s figure.)

    The Wall

    • Claim: The meme of Trump’s campaign was that Mexico will pay for a border wall. The number of times that he has said, “and Mexico will pay for it!” is countless.
      Truth: But Mexico has consistently said that it would never pay for such a wall.
    • Claim: More recently, the administration has insisted that it would be paid for through the North American Free Trade Agreement currently being renegotiated, adding that the deal would pay for the structure “many, many times over.”
      Truth: But trade experts have noted that none of the changes being made to NAFTA will be a major revenue driver.
    • Claim: Trump recently tweeted that only criminals would oppose a border wall.
      Truth: But polls have consistently showed that a majority of Americans oppose the wall, including a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll in late December and a Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier that month (which found that only 35% supported including money for the wall in a congressional spending bill).
    • Claim: Trump has said that some of his predecessors have “told me that we should have” built the wall.
      Truth: But all four former living presidents have denied telling him that.

    The Shutdown

    The Drugs

    • Claim: At the Rose Garden news conference last Friday, Trump said that drug smugglers “don’t go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught.”
      Truth: Actually land ports of entry are the primary way that drugs get into the country, not barren stretches of the border, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the DEA, the most common technique is to hide drugs in cars or trucks as they drive into the U.S. through entry ports, where they are subject to inspection.

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    Over the last decade, Chobani helped make Greek yogurt ubiquitous. Now the company is rolling out a new line of plant-based, non-dairy yogurt in an attempt to also take over that category.

    “We studied the aisle and we studied the options and we realized that it’s pretty small,” says Peter McGuinness, the company’s chief marketing officer. Plant-based yogurt now makes up around 2% of total yogurt sales, an $8.5 billion category. But it’s quickly growing; Nielsen data in September 2018 found that plant-based yogurt sales had grown 54% over the previous 12 months. Chobani thinks that it can grow faster. “What we were told–and this is directly from consumers–is that they would consume more non-dairy if it tasted better and it was better for you,” he says. “And so our view of this is maybe it’s only 2% because of the options out there.”

    [Image: Chobani]
    In the company’s R&D lab, a million-square-foot facility in Idaho that is the largest yogurt testing facility in the world, a team spent months developing hundreds of iterations of the product. The resulting new line, with five flavors of non-dairy cups and four flavors of non-dairy drinks, uses a coconut base. That choice came in part from the fact that the best-selling yogurt, the company’s “Almond Coco Loco,” also uses coconut, and Chobani knew that consumers liked the flavor.

    Coconut cream gives the product a texture that’s close to traditional, non-Greek yogurt, though the food scientists weren’t aiming for an exact match. “We weren’t trying to perfectly replicate how these foods would taste when the base is dairy,” says Niel Sandfort, VP of product management and innovation at Chobani. “We were trying to make something delicious on its own and that celebrates pure coconut cream.”

    With coconut as a base, the product clearly tastes like coconut, blended with flavors like blueberry, peach, or strawberry. I tried a sample, and the texture was smooth and very yogurt-like, the flavors were well-blended (and as someone who doesn’t like coconut, the coconut-y flavor didn’t appeal to me, but coconut fans might like it). Because of the coconut, it has more fat than regular yogurt, but the product also has less sugar than other vegan options.

    The company calls it “Non-Dairy Chobani” rather than yogurt, saying that it wants to clearly distinguish between dairy and non-dairy products. (This is in contrast to other makers of plant-based foods who have battled for the right to use the word “milk” or “mayo.”) It has no plans to stop making traditional dairy products, and it’s aiming for vegans and lactose-intolerant customers, not trying to convert dairy-eaters. But the company’s clout could give plant-based dairy another jump in sales.


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