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- 08/17/17--02:00: _Why The Amazon Echo...
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- 08/17/17--02:51: _The Economist’...
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- 08/17/17--05:49: _Spotify jumps on th...
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- 08/17/17--01:00: Let Your Favorite Podcast Hosts Fix Your Public Speaking Problems
- 08/17/17--02:00: This Is How To Stop Your Employees From Going Over Your Head
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- 08/17/17--05:00: Say These Things To Nail Your Next Salary Negotiation
- 08/17/17--05:10: Meet The Best Friends Behind Legendary Fader Magazine
- 08/17/17--05:49: Spotify jumps on the anti-white-supremacy bandwagon, pun intended
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The fund will help enable Ng’s goal of bringing about an AI-powered society, reports TechCrunch. It’s not yet known what type of AI startups the fund will invest in. Before setting out on his own as a VC Ng founded the Google Brain Team and has long been an evangelist of the benefits of AI.
The hacking group OurMine briefly took over not only the main HBO Twitter account but the official accounts for some of its shows, including Game of Thrones, reports BetaNews. The Twitter hack comes as what is believed to be separate hackers dumped materials from the “4th Wave HBO Leak” online, which included Westworld season 2 shooting schedules and Game of Thrones season 7 shooting diaries. HBO soon regained access to their hacked accounts, but not before OurMine sent them a message on the official GOT Twitter account: “OurMine are here. we are just testing your security. HBO team please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine.org -> Contact.”
You’re a grownup with a job, plenty of good ideas, and expertise. That’s why you find yourself presenting to a roomful of your coworkers, or possibly to an auditorium packed with business leaders. And yet you feel like a fifth-grader struggling to explain the plot of Inception to your biggest crush: Why are you so nervous? Was that last detail even right? Is anything in here making any sense at all?!
Relax. With a little practice, you can learn to speak more clearly, confidently, and naturally. To find out how, Fast Company asked five hosts of some of the most popular podcasts to share their speaking tips.
Silence Is Worse Than “Ums” And “Likes”
When I asked Guy Raz, host of NPR’s How I Built This podcast, which explores innovation and entrepreneurship, whether he makes a conscious effort to cut so-called “filler words” from his speech, he replied, “Nope. Um, I like, use them, like they are a giant bowlful of, um, gummy bears on my, um, desk, you know?”
Lindsey Weber, who cohosts the celebrity podcast Who? Weekly with Bobby Finger, doesn’t worry about those “um”s and “ya know”s either. They add “personality,” she says, so it would be crazy to cut every single one of them. Part of what people like about conversational pods is that they feel natural,” Weber explains–and the same is likely true of most speeches, talks, and presentations, where there’s actually a risk to sounding too formal and stiff.
Weber acknowledges that she and Finger both “have a serious ‘like’ problem” and that they “try to avoid repetition,” but Finger adds that filler words “don’t bug me as long as they’re immediately followed by a thought.” As he sees it, dead airtime is a much bigger killer than any “like” or “um.”
Jot Notes, Rehearse With Them, Then Throw Them Out
But preserving a natural vibe doesn’t mean improvising completely. Being in the moment still takes some preparation and practice.
As Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC Studios’s Note to Self, points out, “People who sound like they aren’t reading from a script are probably really good writers. They know how people talk, little nuances, and how to structure sentences so they sound natural.” But “this is not a gift,” she emphasizes. “It takes practice and doing it over and over again.”
Even Weber and Finger, who’ve always done Who? Weekly off the cuff, share a very messy Google doc between the two of them. That’s where, as Weber explains, “We lay out the episode’s topics as well as various links and research we’ve done.” Doing this prep work allows them to riff when it’s time to record an episode. “I think the improvisation just comes with knowledge of the material,” says Finger.
That’s true for Glynn Washington as well, who’s a colleague of Zomorodi’s at WNYC, where he hosts the storytelling podcast Snap Judgment. “Everything starts on the page,” says Washington. “Only after I get it right on paper can I throw the paper away. If I happen to sound both clear and casual at the same time,” he continues, “that means I have spent time crafting what I am saying. No one wants to hear my unfocused, unrehearsed babble. The performance is the final step of a longer process.”
For Zomorodi, that process is all about getting to know your notes so well that you can ditch them: “Read your script, underline words that you want to punch, say it out loud over and over again, record yourself, listen back while you walk around, make changes, read it again,” she advises, “almost to the point where you don’t need the script. When you feel the words and why you wrote them when you talk, that’s when you know you are nailing it.”
Finally, “In order to nail the performance,” says Washington, “I first set the stage in my mind. I imagine walking up to a card table with a bunch of my uncles shouting through a heated game of Spades. As I approach, magically, they all turn, and shut up long enough to allow me to speak (this would never happen). Whatever I say has to fit that [imaginary] moment.”
Always Ask For Feedback
According to Washington, “The best thing that any creative person can have is someone to let them know when they’re getting it right–and when they’re falling short.” It’s one thing to practice alone in a room; it’s another to do a dry run for a trusted audience. “You may not know the person that can tell you the truth,” Washington adds, since the people we’re closest with aren’t always great sources of unvarnished feedback. “It might not be your mom or boyfriend or uncle or friend. But find them!”
As cohosts, Finger and Weber serve this role for one another. “We are always telling each other to wrap it up,” says Finger. “You can tell while speaking if something is going to drag for the audiences, so after recording, we usually chat about what worked/what didn’t/what we should save for another episode.” These quick recaps help them both retool and nail it the next time.
It’s Okay To Gesture–Just Do It Right
“When I’m speaking into the microphone, my hands are flailing!” Washington confesses. “I’m gesticulating. Prowling. Laughing. I need a lot of space! You may not see any of that, but I think you hear it.”
Using your hands can be a great way to add emphasis and force to what you’re saying, but Washington knows he can get away with more when his audience is only listening to him, not watching. Before getting back into radio, Zomorodi had been doing a lot of TV, so she’d trained herself not to use her hands while speaking. But, she points out, “All that energy needs to go somewhere, and I find that I strain my voice less when I can let my body relax and emote, too.” Fortunately, there are a few ways to gesture meaningfully without looking ridiculous–here are a few tips.
If you find that you’re a hopeless hand talker, then at least clear the podium or table in front of you to avoid any mishaps. “Sometimes I fidget with things on my desk, which–hey, I’m stupid–make noises in the podcast!” says Finger. “So I generally have to remove all coins [and] knick-knacks from my area before recording, or you’ll hear taps and clicks and clonks.”
Don’t Try To Sound Like Someone Else
Early on, Zomorodi says she had to stop trying to speak “like a ‘broadcast reporter’–just the facts–without any personality,” as she was trained to do at the BBC and Reuters. Raz agrees that authenticity matters: “I tried to sound like Robert Siegel [the longtime host of All Things Considered] because I thought that’s what an NPR host should sound like. It took me a while to grow comfortable with my own voice and mannerisms.”
To get this right, Weber draws a useful distinction: “We don’t really care about sounding ‘professional.’ I guess really the only thing we do care about–and are still working on!–is making sure we sound good. This is not the easiest thing for us,” she adds, “as we aren’t trained sound engineers and do our own production.” Much of the time, you’ll sound good simply when you sound like yourself.
On this last point, Weber adds, “I think the idea of ‘vocal fry’ is a sexist myth, so when people accuse us of that, I refuse to give a shit.”
One of the most difficult roles at a startup is managing a team of employees who have a long-term, personal relationship with the company’s founder. “I may have authority over these people but really I don’t because they have these personal, long-held relationships with the CEO,” says Michelle Lapierre, a Denver-based consultant who is often brought in help startups grow their brand. “It’s basic human nature for them to leverage that relationship,” she says, and to go directly to the founder.
Lapierre is currently working at a startup where the founder is 21 and just about everyone on staff, except for Lapierre, is the founder’s close, personal friend. “It’s my job to help people understand the difference between passion and profitability, and cause and capitalism,” she says, but at most startups hierarchy is seen as a poisonous term.
Here are seven ways to manage a staff when everyone has a long-term, personal relationship with the CEO except for you.
Have An Honest Conversation
“You have go into these positions with your eyes wide open,” Lapierre says. Before you even accept the position, she recommends having a frank conversation with the CEO about how you will both define your authority with the staff.
Some CEOs might be clueless or not think that it will be a problem so it’s best to ask the CEO how he or she will make your authority clear to the staff, says Nancy Halpern, principal at KNH Associates. Ask how he or she will introduce you to the team and how he or she will lay out the chain of command, she says. You might also ask the CEO to speak directly with any staff members who seem most likely to undermine your authority. Ask the CEO to personally reinforce to those staff members that they no longer report to the CEO, but to you instead.
Set Boundaries With The CEO
The CEO might also need to be reminded not to go directly to the staff with requests, says Tracey Adams, founder of ThriveOn Seminars. State what you see the CEO doing (for instance, giving the team work you don’t know about) and remind the CEO of your overall goal (my goal is to distribute work evenly). Then explain what effect this action has on your ability to do your job (when you makes decisions without my input or knowledge, I can’t do my job effectively).
Make A Bold Move Early On
Establish your authority with the first action you take at your new job by spearheading a project that most people on staff would have expected the CEO to head up or by introducing a new budget initiative, Halpern says. Just make sure the CEO backs up your plan and doesn’t feel that you’re stealing his or her thunder, she says.
If the CEO is charismatic, don’t try to win over followers by out-charming a founder who is a charmer, Halpern says. Instead, develop your own reason for staff to respect you by either capitalizing on your subject matter expertise, your industry recognition, or your connection with investors by creating a personal brand that doesn’t compete with the founder’s personal brand.
Address Issues Directly
If there is one person who consistently goes directly to the founder, don’t try to address the issue by lecturing the entire staff. Instead, speak with that person directly. Trying to address it through a group discussion will only cause the rest of the staff to resent you, and the person you’re trying to send a message to, probably won’t realize you’re talking about them, Halpern says.
Tell Them More Than Once
Establishing procedures for the team is not a one-time event, Adams says. You might need to remind staff three or four times, she says. For instance, if someone on the team consistently forgets to copy you on emails to the boss, you might need to talk with them a few times. “You just have to keep at it,” Adams says. “If you notice it again, say to them, ‘We talked about this a few weeks ago and I noticed you did it again. Let’s talk about that.’ ”
Build Your Case
When making a recommendation to the CEO, spend some time explaining the reasons for your decision, Lapierre says. “I always take the extra step to lay out the foundation for my decision and recommendation,” she says. “I’ll say, ‘Here is my opinion and these are the facts.’ People who have an emotional tie to the CEO don’t feel like they have to take that step.” Lapierre says she often wins the argument because she builds her case around facts, not emotions.
Amazon’s Echo Show doesn’t like to be the bearer of bad news. Although the device’s 7-inch touchscreen constantly cycles through trending news stories on its home screen—and lets you ask Alexa for more details with a voice command—the topics seldom cover anything too heavy.
So instead of updating users on the Charlottesville protests, President Trump’s subsequent press conference meltdown, his earlier war of words with North Korea, or countless other anxiety-inducing stories, the Echo Show offers soothing headlines such as these:
For those who are glued to the news, the aloofness of these “trending topics” might seem strange or even off-putting, as if Amazon prefers blissful ignorance to an informed public. You don’t see Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Facebook shying away from serious stories in their own news products, so why is Amazon doing it?
Amazon’s explanation: The Echo Show is a different kind of product.
“For trending topics on Echo Show, we primarily surface lifestyle, entertainment, and sports news since it’s a communal device that the whole family sees and uses,” an Amazon spokesperson said via email. (The company provided the same statement to Android Central‘s Phil Nickinson, whose recent post on Twitter got me thinking about this topic.)
Essentially, you don’t want your kids discovering the concepts of white supremacy or nuclear war by walking past an ambient video screen. Amazon also notes that the Echo Show isn’t devoid of serious news; users can still hear political and business stories from whatever outlets they choose by asking Alexa for a Flash Briefing. The key difference in that case is that users must ask for the news first.
But even if Amazon wanted to offer weightier stories on the Echo Show home screen–perhaps as an optional setting–the system isn’t equipped to handle them.
Right now, the Echo Show’s trending topics only provide a sentence or two of information beyond the headline, with no way to hear more details. The blurbs have no bylines, and the source of the reporting isn’t always clear.
That lack of substance might be acceptable for a story like “Guns N’ Roses’ Slash named Gibson Ambassador,” but it would do a disservice to a story like the Charlottesville protests. Any summary Amazon provided would have to be lengthier, with more context and clearer sourcing. For whoever at Amazon is in charge of the curating, that becomes a much bigger job, not to mention a political minefield if users perceive any sort of bias. (See: the many changes to Facebook’s Trending section.)
The obvious solution would be to pull in stories from news organizations–perhaps the same ones users have already added to their Flash Briefings–instead of just generating longer blurbs. But even that would require Alexa to understand specific news topics in a way that it doesn’t currently do. If you say “Alexa, what’s the latest news on Donald Trump?” the system merely launches into your Flash Briefing, rather than zooming in on the topic you just asked about. Amazon may have to work more closely with news providers to chop their Flash Briefing segments into individual stories, which the Echo Show could identify and display on its home screen.
To be fair, the Echo Show launched less than two months ago, and it’s unclear how many people own one, let alone how many are perturbed by its lack of hard news coverage. But as Amazon tries to expand its virtual assistant onto phones, in-car dashboards, and other devices, a more informative news product might help justify Alexa’s onscreen presence.
Amazon, at least, seems aware that it’s a work in progress.
“As with everything we do,” a company spokesperson said, “the Echo Show trending topics experience will continue to improve and evolve over time based on customer feedback.”
For the past 18 years, it’s been an open secret that Fader magazine and creative agency Cornerstone have been operating under the same ownership. Former music executive Rob Stone founded Cornerstone in 1996, eventually bringing on his childhood friend and fellow former music exec Jon Cohen as a co-CEO. Together, they founded Fader in 1999, and the two companies have been kept relatively separate ever since.
“In our early days, media companies and advertising agencies were very different businesses. As a brand-new editorial property, we wanted to ensure the purity of our editorial and make sure the integrity of our journalism was paramount,” Cohen says. “Over the years, media and advertising have truly converged. Both are now about storytelling.”
During the most tumultuous times for both print/digital media and the advertising industry, Fader and Cornerstone have actually managed to thrive in both areas. Exact figures weren’t disclosed but Cohen says both Fader and Cornerstone have maintained profitability, with 2017 being “our most successful year to date.” Knowing that each entity is strong enough to stand on its own has given Stone and Cohen the impetus to dismantle the barrier between the two companies in an effort to make better use of resources and to fortify the magazine/agency model they’ve pioneered–a model that has been duplicated by other outlets including Vice and its agency arm Virtue Worldwide, as well as Complex magazine’s aggressive branded content strategy.
To pull off bringing Fader and Cornerstone together, Stone and Cohen have doubled down on talent, primarily at the executive and C-suite levels, bringing on heavy hitters in the creative space including VP of strategy Grace Gordon, creative director Louis-Philippe Riel, executive creative director Steve Caputo, and chief creative officer Trevor Eld, whose primary task since he left R/GA about eight months ago to join the Fader and Cornerstone team has been to seamlessly merge the two.
“We’re talking about two different cultures with their own staffs, IP, client relationships–everything,” Eld says. “What excited me was to start to integrate those into one with a creative team being at the core, really the connective tissue between all of these different teams that have been kept pretty siloed from each other.”
A recent example of this creative synergy came about when Gorillaz co-creator Damon Albarn reached out to Cohen about the launch of their latest album, Humanz. Sonos was also in touch with Cornerstone about promoting the launch of a new product. Seeing the potential in merging an innovative band and a speaker company, Cornerstone created replicas of the Gorillaz’s Spirit House, the trippy focal point for the band’s VR music video “Saturnz Barz,” using projection mapping and featuring Sonos’s Playbase speakers. The activation spanned New York City, Berlin, and Amsterdam, and was the ideal blend between two entities that may not have crossed otherwise.
“We had two different teams launching products and what we brought to that was fitting those puzzle pieces together so that everyone wins, [including the people experiencing the activation],” Eld says. “When you walk through, it’s cool and exciting because we didn’t forget what they care about. Because of our experience with events and experiential, we knew what people would want.”
That ability to predict what will break through in culture comes from the fact that both Fader and Cornerstone have been actively creating culture. Stone and Cohen’s deep roots in music–specifically hip-hop/R&B and indie rock, respectively–have laid a solid foundation to develop culture through brand work for Nike, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Converse, and Levis; campaigns that have garnered Grammy and Emmy nominations; white-label partnerships with the likes of YouTube; events such as their festival within a festival Fader Fort at South by Southwest; and most recently this summer being one of Google’s first partners to help launch its virtual reality platform VR180.
“We live the culture. This company is based on the foundation that Rob and I grew up loving music,” Cohen says. “If you talk to our staff and get to know the people that have been here past and present, they live, eat, and breathe the culture of music. They go to shows, they read, they listen. They pride themselves on really studying what’s going on out there.”
Building a staff that’s on the same wavelength of passion has been only half of the equation for Fader and Cornerstone’s success. What’s been just as important has been Stone and Cohen’s commitment to maintaining that freeform way of thinking they had when they first launched both companies.
“When we started Cornerstone, we didn’t understand the agency game. Sprite was our first corporate client and they didn’t know what to make of us,” Stone says. “We’ve never played [the game] of ‘if these agencies are doing that, that must be what we should be doing.’ We don’t care what everybody else is doing and as long as we can deliver for our clients and have this connection to culture, that’s what’s paramount to everything we do.”
“This company has always been built on bucking tradition,” Cohen continues. “When we started Fader, we printed on such a heavy paper stock that every traditional media person told us we were crazy and that we were going to be out of business the next year. But that was the reason that every great photographer wanted to work for us–that was the reason that artists started coveting being on our cover. When it comes to the ‘agency business,’ we like to refer to ourselves as the un-agency. We don’t want to do all of the traditional things. We want to create really compelling stories around the brands. So we’ve evolved by breaking the rules, and we’ll continue to do that throughout our history.”
Part of that history–and the company’s future–is already in Fader’s name. The magazine was named after the device on a DJ’s mixing board that blends different sounds together, a sentiment that can be applied to bringing the magazine and agency side together.
“For the people that come here from all these different backgrounds, we need leadership that can direct them and give them tasks that set them up for success,” Eld says. “And we need to set the artists and brands that we work with up for success, too. That way, we get these really interesting, uncommon ideas you wouldn’t get at a typical agency or at a typical media property.”
Under the new creative leadership, Eld says Fader and Cornerstone are diving deeper into consultancy work, as well as potentially taking Fader’s IP to Hollywood.
“What we’re hearing unanimously from production studios is Hollywood is bone dry on ideas. The production studios and the distribution networks are hungry for new thoughts and new ideas,” Eld says. “What we didn’t realize is whenever we would go out there for meetings, people would hear that we’re in the building and they wanted to meet with us. They want to know what out of our IP do we have the rights to option right away into a series, film, or documentary.”
Maintaining their influence in culture and being able to spot new areas for growth are positioning Fader and Cornerstone to do what most media entities are struggling with: being in-step with those ever-desirable millennial and gen Z demos while simultaneously being commercial.
“We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve hired great people and we let go of some of the habits that [could hold us back],” Stone says. “We see it all the time–these agencies [and media companies] that were great five years ago, they’ve kind of played themselves out because they’re still doing the same thing.”
“We’re learning by trial and error–we’re learning by experience,” Cohen continues. “That learning curve is the fun part of the job, and what makes this successful is that we’re constantly looking to what’s next instead of just resting on where we’ve been and what we’ve done. The world moves at such a fast pace that if you’re not aware of where things are going or not trying things, you’re going to find yourself falling behind very quickly.”
Bet someone’s not renewing their subscription to the Economist. The weekly magazine appears to have had quite enough of Donald Trump, thank you very much. It published a story today declaring the president to be “politically inept, morally barren, and temperamentally unfit for office.” He’s probably not invited to sit at their lunch table, either. The magazine’s bluntness is not unprecedented—after all, this is the publication that featured Kim Jong Il on the cover under the headline “Greetings, earthlings“—but it’s especially blunt in this case. The cover features an illustration of Trump yelling into a bullhorn shaped like a KKK hood. It’s part of a pattern, though: Unflattering Trump-themed covers have been pretty common for the Economist since January.
Donald Trump is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office https://t.co/xLDMtLclUw
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) August 17, 2017
Our cover this week pic.twitter.com/lYD3HLXvSC
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) August 17, 2017
Try going a day at work without saying “I”–bet you can’t do it. The same likely goes for “me” and “my,” pronouns we use so frequently that we’re almost never fully conscious of them. But these tiny words, in addition to other common “function” words–like articles, prepositions, and conjunctions–may carry more weight in our speech than many of us suspect. And according to the social psychologist James W. Pennebaker, first-person pronouns in particular don’t always communicate what we think they do.
What does this mean for you and your career? For starters, Pennebaker’s research suggests that “I” and its ilk may resonate in others’ ears differently than you intend them to. When you use the first person, there’s the danger (admittedly an unfair one) that you’ll be perceived as self-promotional even when your speech patterns aren’t necessarily unusually “me”-centric.
Because language is complicated and bias is pervasive, there’s only so much of that that you can personally control. So it therefore doesn’t hurt to hedge your verbal bets. Here are five workplace situations where balancing “I” with more inclusive phrasing–or cutting it out altogether–is probably a smart move.
1. Speaking Up In Meetings
We often use “I” in order to get heard in meetings, but there’s a need to tread lightly. If the first words out of your mouth are, “I don’t agree,” or “I would look at it differently,” or “Here’s what I think,” that “I” can sound off-putting, particularly if you’re disagreeing or presenting a new perspective.
Yes, you can still use “I” and sound like a team player, but that often means throwing in some third-person verbiage as well. Kick off your comments by referring to the previous speaker or to the subject of conversation (rather than the people conversing). For example, “To Josh’s point . . .” or, “Looks like we’ve got a number of ideas on the table, so it seems to me . . .” Once you’ve built a bridge to your audience first, you can go on to show what you believe, including by saying “I,” “me,” or “mine.”
2. Accepting Praise For A Job Well Done
Sure, it’s tempting to emphasize what you’ve done, and there are times when you actually need to underscore your own role in order to get ahead at work. Just be careful how you do it. Never use “I” to claim the glory if other people have been involved–after all, nearly every project draws on the talents of many people.
Suppose you’re the art director for an ad campaign; there’s also your boss who developed the strategy, your boss’s boss who approved it, and the client who said “yes” to it. Even when pressed by someone who asks, “Did you design the campaign?” don’t just say “yes,” flash a smile, and leave it at that. Instead reply, “I had a role in the design, but it was a real group effort and we’re proud of the outcome.”
Not hogging the spotlight doesn’t mean disappearing from it entirely, of course. Women frequently deflect compliments by saying, “It was the whole team,” or even, “Oh, it was nothing.” The best thing to do is connect yourself with the accomplishment without taking sole credit for it. Say, “I’m so proud of my team. We had a great win”: one “I,” one “my,” and one “we”–that’s a balanced way to accept praise that’s directed at you rather than the whole group.
3. Showing Your Chops In A Job Interview Or Performance Review
That hiring manager is considering you for a job, and your boss is looking at your past work to decide whether you’ve earned a promotion. But overusing “I” can still backfire.
Sussannah Kelly, executive vice president of DHR International, a global executive search firm, told me that candidates typically don’t realize that the hiring processes isn’t just about them; the roles they’re auditioning to fill are really about solving problems for the team that role belongs to. “And sometimes they come out of the actual interview and tell me they knocked it out of the park,” Kelly says. “Then they discover they didn’t get the position because they focused on themselves and not enough on the company or the position.”
A surefire formula for prevent this from happening is simply to say what you did, followed by the impact or outcome for the group. This holds true for cover letters and networking emails as well. I once got a note from a candidate with eight short paragraphs, each beginning with “I.” Despite his strong credentials, I decided to take a pass.
4. Meeting New People At Networking Events
Too often, introductions during networking begin with a perfunctory “hello,” then move quickly into monologues freighted with “I’s.” It’s deadly stuff for the speaker and listener alike.
Instead, walk into the event, grab a place next to someone who looks interesting or approach the VIP you’ve had your eye on (here’s how to do it), then start asking questions. How did they like the speaker? Why did they come? What do they do? Be complimentary, and make them feel good (“Love your shoes!”) Keep talking until you have common ground. Then you can resort to those first-person words, explaining why you came, what you do, and what you and the other person might do together.
5. Talking To Your Boss Or An Executive
When we’re speaking “up” the organization and want to impress those above us, it’s easy to release of flurry of “I’s” as we describe our accomplishments. Self-justification in the face of authority is totally normal. The irony is that, rather than making you sound more powerful and centered, this can actually make you sound weak, insecure, and needy.
In fact, Pennebaker’s research indicates that people with less power and lower social status use pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “mine” and so-called “auxiliary verbs” (like “be,” “is,” “are,” “have,” “do,” “might,” and “should”–the stuff that usually accompanies an action verb) more frequently than those of higher rank (Pennebaker has theorized that “lacking power . . . requires a deeper engagement with the thoughts of one’s fellow humans,” as the Times summarized it in 2011). So when you’re talking to someone more senior to you, focus less on yourself and the interpersonal politics involved than on the organization itself–the needs, goals, and outcomes everyone is pulling toward.
The slippery nature of unavoidable pronouns like “I”–just like other common words and phrases–means there will be times you really can’t control how your speech sounds to others. But one overall rule can help you maximize your impact: People simply like to know that you’re interested in them, not focused on yourself. Using collegial and collaborative language will build bridges to your audience, and hopefully result in more respect and authority for you.
After years of speeches and protests, you probably have the gist of the arguments for net neutrality: Don’t mess with what I can read/watch/download/upload, either by blocking or slowing it down. But the current net neutrality fight is really a wide-ranging power struggle between internet service providers and internet activists, between Republicans and Democrats. The battle is only partly about the ends—a free internet—and much more about the means: potential heavy regulation of ISPs as monopolies.
Trump-appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai wants to scrap his Democratic predecessor Tom Wheeler’s Open Internet Report and Order. The Order imposed strict net neutrality rules on landline and (for the first time) wireless internet service providers. In order to do that, Wheeler’s FCC had to invoke legal authority that allows it to regulate ISPs as monopolies. The response from companies like Comcast and Verizon has been less about the merits and mechanics of net neutrality and more a strident assertion that they are not monopolies.
Why? Classifying ISPs as “common carriers,” under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, means they could be regulated like monopolies. That could go as far as setting rates for broadband, like public utilities commissions do for electricity, according to ISPs and other critics. Tom Wheeler’s FCC promised not to go this far, by forbearing, or refraining, from utilizing most of Title II. “In finding that broadband Internet access service is subject to Title II, we simultaneously exercise the Commission’s forbearance authority to forbear from 30 statutory provisions and render over 700 codified rules inapplicable,” the Order reads.
ISPs aren’t buying it. “Even if the FCC decides to forbear from regulating [ISPs] from certain or many provisions of Title II in the near term, the fact that at any time it could implement additional rules under Title II jurisdiction creates uncertainty in the industry,” reads Comcast’s comments to the FCC.
According to Susan Crawford at Backchannel, at least one ISP, Cable One, may be making itself vulnerable to monopoly regulation by taking advantage of its dominance over about 700,000 customers in low-income pockets of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska. That’s based on a study by analyst Craig Moffett, who might as well be the voice of God in the telecom business. (Both sides of the net neutrality debate quote him to make their case.) Moffett found that Cable One is already jacking up rates and could continue to. “What matters is that there is very little competition in Cable One’s footprint,” he told Crawford. “If you want high-speed broadband, where else are you going to go?”
Smackdown In D.C.
Cable One’s customers aren’t the only people facing little or no choice for landline broadband. (Wireless is a different story that we’ll get to in a bit.) The FCC’s 2016 Annual Broadband Report found that only 38% of Americans had a choice of landline internet providers (and 10% had no providers at all). That’s based on the FCC’s 2015 definition of “broadband” as 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speeds. Ajit Pai slammed the new benchmark, writing in a dissent that most people given the option to buy 25 Mbps service don’t, that Wheeler’s figures assume rare activities like 4K video streaming.
“But for some time now under this Administration, grounding the new benchmark for broadband in reality hasn’t been the point. No, the ultimate goal is to seize new, virtually limitless authority to regulate the broadband marketplace,” wrote Pai.
By making ISPs common carriers, the FCC is required to regulate customer privacy, using another part of the Communications Act, Section 222, which says that a telecom carrier can only use clients’ personal information for the mechanics of providing services. An ISP has to know your location, IP address, and the site you are accessing, for instance, so it needs to look at you data packets.
“Once the ISPs fall under Title II, the FCC has to do something here to spell out what the ISPs are supposed to be doing with respect to 222,” says Nick Feamster, a Princeton computer science professor who specializes in networking technology.
The Commission did that last October, with a set of rules to prevent ISPs from using customer information for things like targeted advertising. The rules didn’t last long. Congress nullified them with a resolution in March—without any votes from Democrats.
Republican Marsha Blackburn, who led the effort in the House, has proposed replacing the nixed regulations with a law on ISP privacy. ISPs, Republicans, and other Title II foes also want to codify net neutrality rules in legislation, rather than working with (or against) regulations that can change each time the President does. It sounds reasonable, but “reasonable” doesn’t describe what most Congressional debates have been lately.
Even before Title II was being discussed, ISPs were panicked about monopoly regulation. In 2013, Verizon sued and, for the most part, won to block an earlier net neutrality policy. The FCC wasn’t using Title II then, but a weaker provision—Title I, Section 706—which does not classify ISPs as common carriers. (And it didn’t apply to wireless carriers.) Still, Verizon was afraid the FCC would try to impose monopoly regulation, the company told me in a recent conversation. Verizon’s lawsuit was essentially a redo of a 2010 Comcast suit before the same D.C. Court of Appeals that had struck down a similar net neutrality policy based on Section 706.
Ironically, both companies now advocate Section 706 regulations almost identical to what they fought against because they are so spooked by the prospect of Title II monopoly regulation—and perhaps because they know they can beat it in a lawsuit.
Wireless Doesn’t Come To The Rescue
Verizon is far from a monopoly in landline broadband. Its fiber-optic Fios service reaches 5.7 million, according to its 2016 annual report. Comcast reported 23.8 million broadband subscribers in April.
Verizon’s situation is different in wireless, where it had about 141 million connections in 2015 (the latest year for which FCC numbers are available). But it’s no monopoly. AT&T is nearly as big, at 129 million. T-Mobile and Sprint each have around 60 million, and there are some smaller networks, like U.S. Cellular with 4.9 million connections.
The networks compete viciously for customers, as evidenced by the churn rate, or the percentage of a carrier’s connections that get cancelled, usually because people jump to a competitor. In 2015, the average churn rate for wireless was 23.6%. Two-year contracts have all but disappeared, making it much easier to switch. 4G/LTE wireless is now available to 98% of Americans—a milestone the White House announced in 2015.
Even the FCC, although it placed wireless carriers under Title II, acknowledges plenty of competition. The best measure is that, as the number of subscribers has shot up, prices have fallen. From 2005 to 2015, the number of wireless connections in the U.S. nearly doubled to 378 million (yes, more than the country’s population, which is approximately 326 million). But, says the FCC’s 19th Mobile Wireless Competitive Report, revenue per user “has slightly declined, for the most part, over the last 10 years.” Wireless carriers are making more money by expanding service, not by raising prices.
But wireless is a lousy substitute for a cable modem at home. Will the family huddle around a 6-inch phone screen to stream Game of Thrones while the 50-inch smart TV screen is black? Will an Amazon Echo, a Nest thermostat, and Philips Hue bulbs all connect to the wireless hotspot function that only some smartphones even have? And does the entire smart home shut down when the phone leaves or just when the battery depletes or the 4G signal wanes? Providers like Verizon have offered wireless home routers, but with lots of caveats, like download speeds as low as 5Mbps (barely enough for streaming) and a dropdown to 3G speeds after using a mere 10GB of data. Lots of limitations come with the “unlimited” data plans for phones and phone hotspots, too.
Wireless is a competitive and ever cheaper way to get online from a mobile device. But it won’t rescue people stuck with crummy or price-gouging landline internet service when they are at home.
In arguing against the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, ISPs, Republicans in Congress, and the new chairman himself are saying that Title II is overkill. Wheeler’s goal was to set some standards for equal access to the internet. Those who oppose his decision say he went overboard by pulling out a big club used to smash 19th- and 20th-century monopolies, not to nurture and fine-tune modern tech providers. But what if those modern tech providers are, in fact, acting like monopolies from 100 years ago?
Your office in the summertime has a strange feel to it. People are working, but maybe not as intensely as at other times of the year. It’s quieter. It’s emptier. Many of your coworkers are on vacation, so it’s hard to get groups together to work on big projects. Meetings get postponed or canceled altogether, and maybe you’re spacing out more, too. You haven’t been in school for awhile, but somehow the academic calendar you grew up with is still burned into your psyche.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, though. Chances are you’ll get a big burst of energy to get back into gear–tackling big work projects and personal goals, making major habit changes, or boosting your productivity in general–as soon as the season starts to change. But before it does, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re able to hit the ground running after Labor Day.
1. Look For Where You’ve Fallen Short Before
Your first step is to spend a little time looking for your “systematic failures”–not individual goals you’ve missed once but those you’ve missed repeatedly. Nobody achieves all of their goals. You don’t have enough time, energy, and money to accomplish everything you set out to do all the time. But part of being successful is finding a way to navigate these resource limitations and to achieve as much as you can as often as you can.
Systematic failures are a little different than these one-off misses. If there’s something you’ve tried multiple times to accomplish but have consistently fallen short, then chances are you won’t succeed at your next attempt, either–at least not without making a significant change. Summer might not be a great time to actually make the change that might improve your chances, but it’s the perfect time to nail down what that change should be.
So start by thinking about the big-picture goals that have frequently eluded you: Is there a pattern to the reasons you’ve failed? Is there one key thing that keeps standing in your way? Clear a little time on your work calendar to do a mental inventory: Are other tasks crowding out the time you need to make progress? Are you unclear about some of the steps you need to take to succeed? Are there skills you need to sharpen? What are some of these factors, and how can you tackle those first, before re-aiming for the goal itself?
2. Plan Your First Round Of Small Changes
Once you have a sense of what you’re trying to achieve and why you haven’t been able to achieve it, it’s time to plan out a course of action. You don’t have to do this alone. Sit down with a colleague or supervisor who can help you find ways to delegate, automate, or prioritize some of the obstacles you’ve identified.
Start with the small stuff–they’ll be easier for others to get behind and for you to take action on–and make a strong case for why the goal they’re meant to serve will benefit the organization, not just you. The key is just to start these conversations while the summertime slump is still in force. You don’t need to land on a solution right now, let alone act on it. But it’s wise to start planning it out; this way you’re ready to implement some changes as soon as things pick back up in the fall.
There’s one habit you can adopt now that can help you out once you do get started: Starting in the summer, consider keeping a written diary of the reasons why you feel you’re not succeeding and the steps you’ll need to take in the future. (I created a “smart change” journal just for this purpose that you can download here.) Then once you begin making headway in the autumn, you’ll already have a system for tracking your progress and a written reminder of the steps you need to take to stay on course.
3. Rethink Your Sources Of Support
Sometimes the reason for your systematic failures has to do with the advice and support you’re relying on. Lots of people gravitate toward mentors when they first start working, only to lose their grip on those relationships year by year. Others realize at some point in their careers that the mentors they have are no longer the right people to offer the advice they need. The end of summer is a great time to take stock of your mentors and look for new ones who can help you set a promising course for the end of the year.
Take a look around and find someone who’s succeeded at accomplishing the same type of goal that’s eluded you. Use the last few weeks of summer to invite that person out for lunch or a cup of coffee. Enlist their help to give you suggestions for how to tweak your schedule, sharpen a skill, or switch up your approach. Make these connections now so you can tap them when you’re ready to.
This preparation takes some time, but it’s crucial if you would like to turn your systematic failures into success stories by the end of the year. The benefit of starting now is that in a few more weeks, the days are going to get shorter and a little cooler. The school-year mind-set is going to kick back in, and you’ll soon find yourself more motivated to work–you just need to have a plan in place for when that happens.
A startling image that seems to show a member of an anti-fascist group beating a U.S. police officer with a club during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been making the rounds of the internet over the last few days. There’s one thing you should know about it, though—it’s fake.
Snopes, the internet’s respected fact-checker, quickly debunked the photo. Turns out the picture was snapped by a Getty Images photographer during a clash between police officers and protesters in Athens, Greece, back in 2009. Some jerkface (technical term!) used their Photoshop skills to slap an “antifa” or “antifacist” logo on the jacket of the protester and an internet myth was born. As the photo circulated among Trump supporters and other far-right groups, it helped bolster claims that “both sides” of the gathering were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, as President Donald Trump claimed in his statement about the incident. Thankfully, Snopes was on the case.
Fact Check: Antifa Member Photographed Beating Police Officer?
— snopes.com (@snopes) August 15, 2017
A 40-mile stretch of coral reef off the coast of Puerto Morelos, Mexico–part of the roughly 700-mile long Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest in the world–is both a draw for tourists and a natural barrier that helps protect the coast’s resorts from flooding and damage in hurricanes. But like other reefs, it’s facing multiple threats, including warming water, pollution, and damage from storms that are becoming stronger because of climate change. This has convinced local businesses to pay for something that is the first of its kind: an insurance policy for nature.
In September, beachfront hotels and other businesses in the area will start contributing to the new Reef & Beach Resilience and Insurance Fund, which pays premiums to the insurance company Swiss Re AG. In the event of a major storm that could damage the coral, Swiss Re will quickly offer payouts that can be used to restore the reef so it can continue to attract tourists and protect coastal property in future storms.
“You have to effectively use nature to protect yourself against nature,” says Alex Kaplan, head of North America for Swiss Re Global Partnerships. The company worked with the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy, which initially conceived of the idea of insuring nature, over the last two years to quantify the value of the reef as “green infrastructure.” Researchers calculated, for example, that if one meter was lost from the top of the reef–a likely scenario in a category 2 or 3 storm–the damage onshore could triple. A healthy coral reef can reduce a wave’s energy by 97% before it reaches the shore.
“You have this natural asset that’s part of the natural landscape, but it’s providing all this risk reduction to the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of economic assets that sit behind it,” Kaplan says. “No one actually ever thought about it that way before . . . if it were not there, the potential loss scenarios would be quite high, or much higher than they are in reality today. Then you can put a price tag on that exposure, on that reef.”
The insurance company formed its Global Partnerships team six years ago to begin to address the fact that only a fraction of the damage from natural disasters–around 30%–is covered by insurance. In 2005, when 1,800 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina, the insurance industry paid the largest total it had paid in history; the year before, when 200,000 died in an earthquake and tsunami in Sumatra, “it was almost a nonevent for the insurance industry,” Kaplan says.
“We viewed that as a catastrophic failure of the insurance industry’s intent to do its job and add its value,” he says. “So our team stood up for the purpose of closing what we refer to as the protection gap: the gap between the portion that’s covered by insurance and the actual economic impact of different types of disasters and liabilities that governments face.”
For governments, economic costs in the wake of disasters can total hundreds of billions of dollars a year around the world–that’s both a societal problem and a business opportunity for insurance companies. “Closing this protection gap is critical to protecting our economic future, but also creates a new market for the industry,” he says. “This is particularly true if you now consider nature as an insurable asset.”
Damage to a coral reef during a hurricane would typically be borne by society. After Hurricane Wilma caused $7.5 billion dollars of damage in Mexico in 2005, hotels along the coast began paying the government extra taxes that were meant to be used to protect the beach. Now, those same funds will contribute to insurance premiums instead. The payouts will go to both beach cleanup and reef restoration.
The insurance policy is parametric, meaning that it’s triggered by a particular event–in this case, a severe storm–rather than by damages. That means that no adjuster needs to come out and assess the damage to the reef; instead, if a storm meets qualifying criteria, there’s an automatic payment. The policy is triggered strictly by storms, rather than by other threats that corals face such as rising ocean temperatures or pollution, though future policies could address other issues.
“In the attempt to create a market you have to start with the steps that people are most comfortable with and they are already familiar with,” says Kaplan. “Hurricanes are probably the most modeled natural hazard in the world, and therefore there’s the greatest amount of comfort around how they behave and what they cost. The idea is we start here in Mexico with the coral reef talking about hurricanes, but 5 or 10 years from now, I hope we’re talking about . . . a much broader array of natural hazards.”
A claim will be paid in 10 days or less. “You get immediate cash influx for the repair, and the reef needs immediate attention,” says Kathy Baughman McLeod, managing director of climate risk and investment at The Nature Conservancy. “The corals break off and you’ve got to pick them up, and rest them, and they have to be reattached. That can all happen, but they can’t be left to break off and float away, because they’ll die and you’ll lose the health of the reef.”
After a severe storm, “coral first responders” will assess the damage, and take broken coral to nearby coral nurseries for rehabilitation. If the reef loses some of its height–critical for protecting the coast–artificial structures can be used to build it back up (the coral soon grows over these structures).
If the reef is damaged in a storm that doesn’t meet the criteria of the insurance policy, the fund is also designed to be used as self-insurance, so it will still be possible to make repairs. The fund will also provide money for ongoing maintenance to care for the reef between catastrophic events. Both restoration and ongoing care will happen using methods outlined by The Nature Conservancy.
“We had to figure out how many people in how many boats you need for how many days, and how much does it cost,” says McLeod. “They’ve got to clean up the reef, pick up the corals, rest the corals, and assess the damage. Part of the plan is that we’ll have that preordained science and that it’s already agreed to, so you know exactly what to do in which order.”
After the pilot in Mexico, The Nature Conservancy hopes to create a replicable process that can be used in other communities that depend on coral reefs in similar ways. It also plans to work with partners to develop insurance policies for other ecosystems, such as mangrove forests, that also provide critical services to the people living nearby.
In many cases, nature outperforms artificial structures for protecting coasts, such as seawalls, from the increasingly severe storms that are coming with climate change. “We always talk about risk reduction, and if you invest a dollar today here, you see $4 here,” says Kaplan. “The reality is that the biggest bang for your buck is almost always in green infrastructure.”
In the future, insurance policies for nature may work in tandem with traditional insurance; just as some health insurance companies give discounts to people who regularly go to the gym, a company insuring coastal property might eventually give a discount to a building owner who is helping protect a nearby reef.
It’s long been known that coral reefs have benefits beyond their beauty. But if nonprofits and others attempting reef restoration have struggled to find funding in the past, quantifying those benefits and insuring them could be a novel way to help change that.
“These natural systems are superheroes of climate adaptation and protecting these economies,” says McLeod. “The idea that nature is so valuable we put an insurance policy on it is basic. But it can change the way we look at nature and sustain economies along the coastline forever.”
It’s now a well-known media punchline that if a newsroom experiences layoffs, the rationale will probably be because the company is “pivoting to video.” This is what happened to Vocativ, Vice, and MTV News earlier this month.
Now Mic is added to the mix; the millennial-focused media company is laying off between 20 to 30 editorial staff members as part of a larger company restructuring, reports Business Insider. And, what do you know, a lot of this structuring has to do with video.
“We made these tough decisions because we believe deeply in our mission to make Mic the leader in visual journalism and we need to focus the company to deliver on our mission,” said the company in a memo to staff, which was later published on Mic.
The layoffs are often spun as a simple business exigency: Things needed to change as the media landscape has evolved. The truth is that the media business is being squeezed, and executives only know how to follow the money in the short term. As I wrote two months ago, a pivot to video means a bow to Facebook, which along with Google controls the lion’s share of the digital ad market. If these two tech companies change their tunes about what types of content they’re going to prioritize, these pivots will be all for naught.
Which is all to say that this feels like putting a band-aid on a problem that only a stem-cell transplant can fix.
As Mike Jackson watched one CEO after another resign in recent days from Donald Trump’s manufacturing advisory council, he wasn’t surprised. If ever there was a clear-cut issue for corporate leaders to take a stand on, this was it: the president of the United States, in the wake of terror perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., saying that there was blame on “many sides” and “both sides.”
“Jimmy Fallon said it best . . . It’s just disgusting, right?” Jackson, the founder of the firm 2050 Marketing and a former top executive at General Motors, told me on the latest episode of my podcast, The Bottom Line. “Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.”
Even though Trump had earlier run afoul of some businesspeople for his stances on immigration and climate change—leading to the resignation of several CEOs from the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum—his latest statements crossed a new line. “Before last week and the whole Charlottesville tragedy,” Jackson says, “I think the path would have been different.”
By Wednesday, both the manufacturing council and the Strategic and Policy Forum had been disbanded.
Going forward, Jackson hopes that more corporations will use this as an opportunity to talk about race in America. But he cautions that not every company is equipped to do so. “You can’t just start a conversation like that,” he says. “It’s got to be part of who you are.”
For instance, Jackson points to PepsiCo (where he once worked) as a company that should “take a backseat” on the issue—no surprise, perhaps, given the insensitivity that Pepsi displayed toward the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year with its Kendall Jenner ad.
At the same time, Jackson praises Procter & Gamble and its recent ad campaign called “The Talk,” which depicts African American parents discussing the reality of racial bias with their kids. P&G, he says, does a great job of putting forward “a very culturally relevant, authentic discussion.”
You can listen to my entire interview with Jackson here:
The Bottom Line is a production of Capital & Main. Rick Wartzman is director of the KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society at the Drucker Institute and the author of four books, including his latest, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America.
The largest engineering school in the country is betting on a big role for voice controls in the future of computing. In a partnership with Amazon, Arizona State University’s engineering school will offer three undergrad classes this semester on building skills for Alexa and other voice assistants, and will incorporate voice applications into its undergrad research and community service programs. Arizona State is also building its own Alexa skill for looking up campus info. And to sweeten the deal for engineering students, those who live in a new high-tech dorm on campus will be able to get a free Amazon Echo Dot.
The tie-up is another example of how tech titans are fighting for developer mindshare in the escalating virtual assistant wars. Just as mobile platforms lived and died by their app support, platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant need third-party voice skills to survive. By working with Arizona State, Amazon’s trying to win over potential developers before they’re even out of school.
Organizing and searching through images stored on Box is about to get a lot easier thanks to machine learning. Today the cloud storage company announced that it’s bringing image recognition capabilities powered by Google Cloud Vision to the platform. The feature, which launches in public beta today, will enable enterprise users to perform smart searches for objects, colors, and even people, making for a much more efficient workflow.
Box currently works with 74,000 companies ranging in size from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. Customers like Gap, Airbnb, and Spotify that are all storing and working with a lot of data on a daily basis.
“What we’re seeing is that there is an increasing amount of unstructured content in the form of images and videos and audio files,” says Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of Box. That unstructured content, especially in a large volume, can be difficult to deal with.
Slideshow: Outside The Box
“It’s very easy to search within documents and organize them, but that’s not true for a lot of this other unstructured content. So companies are spending millions of dollars in some cases just trying to organize and collect all of this unstructured information,” Levie says.
By bringing advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to Box, the hope is to equip customers with tools to help them better understand, organize, and make sense of all that data directly within Box, without spending a ton of cash on additional software programs.
“What this does is it lets any kind of customer that turns on the functionality be able to take any image content or photos that they have and be able to automatically detect any objects or text within those images,” says Levie. “So, if you’re a retailer and you want to quickly organize all of your product information, this can instantly extract any kind of products that are inside of a photo. If you’re a media company and you want to instantly organize all of your digital assets, it can detect a significant portion of objects within the digital assets, if it’s a frame of a movie or whatnot.”
For instance, Gap might search for “blue shirts” for a promotion, or for a celebrity spokesperson to pull out images of him or her from an event.
Right now you’re limited by what’s in Google’s database, which is already extremely rich, but later on Levie says you’ll be able to train your own data set as well. The beta is also limited. While anyone can sign up to try it out, for now access will only be granted to companies that Box thinks would benefit specifically from the technology.
“This is the first announcement we’re making in this space, but later this fall at our conference in October, Box Works, we’re going to be talking about other use cases as well as partners that we’re pretty excited about working with,” Levie says. “So this is really just the start of a very, very long journey, but we think this will be the defining technology of Box for many, many years to come.”
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a magic word you could say in order to get people to agree with you? If, for example, a simple utterance of “abracadabra” could instantly convince your employer to see things your way, salary negotiations would be a whole lot easier.
Unfortunately, we live in the real world, and those magic words that guarantee instant success don’t quite exist–but the good news is, we’ve got the next best thing. The following words and phrases are expert-level ways to demonstrate the confidence, congeniality, and knowledge necessary to secure a higher salary.
Use these in your next negotiation, and you might just see a bump in your paycheck sooner than you can say “alakazam.”
1. “I Am Excited By The Opportunity To Work Together”
Too often, people think of salary negotiation as a battle: you, trying to get as much as you possibly can, versus your employer, trying to stay within budget. However, this type of thinking can be counterproductive, explains Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
“Never engage in negotiation as an ultimatum–an either/or–but rather as a collaborative process and a unique opportunity to create a compensation package that makes sense for both you and for them. Establish priorities as to what is most important to you and what items you are willing to trade off,” Cohen advises.
“Unless you know for sure that you are indispensable, and few of us ever are, successful negotiation should never become adversarial. That is a bad sign that the process has broken down or will,” Cohen continues.
2. “Based On My Research . . . “
It’s only natural to see if you can get a higher salary than the one that you were offered, but it needs to be grounded in reality. Rather than just throwing out a number that you think sounds nice, you need to do your homework on what your skills are worth in order to provide a compelling case for your employer to compensate you accordingly.
“One phrase to use is something along the lines of ‘based on my research.’ That shows the other person you’ve done your homework and know what you’re talking about when negotiating,” says David Bakke, writer/contributor at Money Crashers.
One tip to come to the negotiation table prepared: Get a free, personalized salary estimate from Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ calculator.
As part of your research, make sure you know what the market for your job is, says labor and employment attorney Alex Granovsky of Granovsky & Sundaresh PLLC. “Market refers to what the employee can earn if he or she went out on the job market and found a new, similar position,” Granovsky says. “If you are making $80,000, but could get a job around the corner making $100,000, the ‘market’ suggests that you are being underpaid.” And since companies presumably don’t want to lose you to the competition, they take that number seriously.
Value, on the other hand, “refers to what you bring to your employer,” Granovsky says. “From an employer’s perspective, each employee has to either (1) increase revenue, or (2) increase margin (ideally both). While probably not as compelling as the job market, if you can show to your employer how you are bringing ‘value’ to the company (in the form of increased revenue and/or increased margin), you can make a compelling case for a raise.”
So if, for example, you can prove that a new initiative you implemented earned the company $100,000, asking for a $5,000 raise sounds a lot more palatable to your employer.
5. “Similarly Situated Employees”
Forget any advice you’ve received about not snooping into your coworkers’ salaries–it can be a powerful data point in negotiations.
“‘Similarly situated employees’ are people who do what you do within the company,” Granovsky says. “If your position is ‘senior account manager’ and every other ‘senior account manager’ is making more money than you, this is something you should explore too.”
While you certainly don’t want to force any of your colleagues to disclose information they’re not comfortable sharing, you can use tools like Glassdoor to find out what they’re making, and therefore, whether or not you’re being fairly compensated.
6. “Is That Number Flexible At All?”
If an employer offers a number that’s below your desired range, pushing back is essential–but you want to make sure you handle it with tact. Saying “is that number flexible at all” is a graceful way to “[give] the employer the opportunity to offer more, or even mention other perks you might be able to gain if a higher salary isn’t in the picture,” Bakke says.
7. “I Would Be More Comfortable If . . . “
Blunt phrasing like “I need” or “I want” can be a turn-off to employers. But expressing your desired salary with this phrase “is a collaborative way to let the recruiter or hiring manager know specifically what you’re looking for so they can focus on that dimension of your job offer,” says Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation.
“The rest of this sentence should be a specific ask. For example, the rest of this sentence might be ‘. . . we can settle on a base salary of $60,000.’ or ‘. . . we can increase the Restricted Stock Unit allotment to 100 units.’ Contrast this with something like, ‘Do you have any wiggle room?’, which is vague and allows them to say ‘No’ and short-circuit the negotiation,” Doody continues.
8. “If You Can Do That, I’m On Board”
We’ll let you in on a little secret–often times, recruiters are just as anxious as you for salary negotiations to come to a close. So if you can specifically spell out what it would take for you to accept an offer, you’ll be doing recruiters and hiring managers a favor.
“When you get to this phase of the negotiation, you want to make it clear to the recruiter or hiring manager that saying ‘Yes’ will end the negotiation so they’re more comfortable acquiescing,” Doody says. For example, you may want to say, “I understand you can’t come all the way up to $60,000. It would be great to add an additional week of paid vacation along with the $55,000 you suggested. If you can do that, I’m on board,” he suggests.
9. “I Would Prefer Not To Leave”
This is a good one for employees who are negotiating raises to keep in their back pocket. Why? It comes down to the fact that it’s part of a defensible strategy, Cohen says.
“A defensible strategy explains what you want, why you want it, and how it is a win/win for both your boss and for you. The goal is to show value and benefit,” Cohen says. If a low salary at work is truly a deal breaker for you, “get an offer that you would be willing to accept, but prefer not to,” Cohen advises. “Tell your boss that you have received an offer, that it is attractive, [but] that you prefer not to leave . . . It is far cheaper to give you a raise than to recruit and train a new candidate.”
But be warned: This phrase should not be taken lightly. “Know that this is a risky proposition: It could backfire. So please don’t use it if you don’t really want to leave or don’t have a bona fide offer on the table,” Cohen cautions.
10. “Do You Mind If I Take A Couple Of Days To Consider Your Offer?”
Even if a job offer exceeds your expectations, try to play it cool. “The first thing you should do when you receive a job offer is ask for time to consider it,” Doody says. “This little phrase accomplishes several things. Primarily, it buys you time to consider the offer, determine the appropriate counter offer, and begin building your case to support your counter offer. [But] it also enables you to move the negotiation to email if it’s not already there,” Doody says.
This, he says, is a key to successfully pulling off a counteroffer.
“You want to counteroffer over email whenever possible because you can be very deliberate with exactly what you say. Your salary negotiation will be more successful if you carefully choose your counteroffer amount and clearly articulate why you’re worth it,” he explains.
11. “Thank You”
Your pleases and thank yous didn’t stop becoming important once you learned them in preschool–in the business setting, manners can mean everything.
“At the end of the salary discussion, be sure to thank the person for taking the time to sit down with you, just to maintain your professionalism,” Bakke says.
Not only is it simply the right thing to do–an employer is much more likely to accommodate the wants and needs of somebody that shows them respect.
Rob Stone and Jon Cohen grew up together in Long Island, New York, before working in the music industry. In 1996, Rob started the creative agency Cornerstone and asked Jon to join him. Fader magazine was then born in 1999.
The domino theory in tech seems to go like this: If one company takes a stand, the others will all follow suit. We are now seeing this happen with white supremacist online content, which, in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville rally, is being blacklisted by numerous tech organizations. Today Spotify confirmed that it would take down bands and other music acts that espoused white supremacist/nazi-leaning content. Before that, companies including PayPal, Facebook, Squarespace, Airbnb, and even Cloudflare all announced they would take action to not help disseminate hate.
As I wrote yesterday, the myth of the neutral online platform is finally crumbling.
WeWork continues to fill out its executive ranks, possibly in preparation for a future IPO. Today, the company told press that Shiva Rajaraman, who previously worked on video projects at Apple, has joined WeWork as its chief product officer.
CEO Adam Neumann said in July his company will go public, but he’s been mum about when. Still, an IPO seems like it might be just on the horizon. In the last year, the company has been busy reorganizing its executive ranks. In January, WeWork brought on former Brooklyn Bowl head James Woods to head up WeLive, the company’s furnished and time-flexible residential spaces. It also hired Richard Gomel, who once lead acquisitions and development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, to manage its coworking business. In May, WeWork hired Spotify’s VP of Engineering, Laurent Paris, to be its first CTO.
It’s also shuffling around executives. In July, the company promoted former general counsel and chief culture officer, Jen Berrent, to COO. Previously, CFO Artie Minson was occupying a sort of dual role. Now he’s focusing all his attention on WeWork’s financial growth. Already, the company has announced it’s on track to earn billion-dollar revenue this year. And WeWork recently took a $500 million investment from Softbank and others.
All these changes come as WeWork has shifted its model from simple coworking spaces to a whole suite of residential and work services. No longer just a landlord to small businesses and startups, WeWork has revamped itself as an ally to large corporations, helping them to open new offices and manage existing ones. This puts WeWork in a position to not only expand, but to prove defensibility to investors down the road.