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    What:The Hustle, a funny short video parodying the quest for ultimate productivity.

    Who: Tech-skewering YouTubers KRAZAM.

    Why we care: On the surface, it may look like the protagonist of The Hustle is doing all the right things. Some of his productivity life hacks are ones that Fast Company may have even endorsed over the years, in our ongoing mission to elucidate how successful people manage their days. (To be fair, we’re also committed to explaining how some such work-life workarounds are garbage.) But as the video goes on, it becomes alarmingly clear that our hero’s commitment to cutting the clutter out of his time has made him an antisocial worker bee thriving on deprivation and self-satisfaction. It’s a wake-up call to the rise-and-grind set to not let crushing it at work get in the way of one’s humanity. And best of all, the video clocks in at just under two minutes, so you can probably fit it in on your pre-7 a.m. high-intensity interval training on the treadmill before logging into Slack for the day.


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    Robinhood, a brokerage app popular among millennials, announced the launch of a new low-interest checking and savings product yesterday, but not everyone seems thrilled.

    Today, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insures the company’s brokerage accounts in the event of company failure, spoke out to say it does not, in fact, insure checking and savings accounts or any cash that is not meant for the direct purpose of investing.

    “SIPC protects cash that is deposited with a brokerage firm for one limited purpose . . . the purpose of purchasing securities,” Stephen P. Harbeck, president and CEO of SIPC, wrote via email. “Cash deposited for other reasons would not be protected. SIPC does not protect checking and savings accounts since the money has not been deposited for a protected purpose.”

    In an interview with Bloomberg, Harbeck further expressed concern for the new product, saying he reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission to confirm whether or not his perspective—that the checking and savings funds would not be protected—was correct.

    SIPC spokesperson Kristen McCaughan noted that while Robinhood is an SIPC member firm, and its customers would be protected in the event the company failed, “The firm does have some lines of business that I believe fall outside the broker-customer relationship,” she said. Unless the cash in member accounts is for the express purpose of investing, it would not be covered. Additionally, SIPC only provides protection in the event that Robinhood fails.

    Fast Company reached out to Robinhood for comment and has yet to receive a response.


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    What goes through your mind when someone clips a microphone on you? I’m guessing that you won’t feel much physical sensation, but you’ll have a flood of emotional reactions because of what it symbolizes.

    When someone was putting a mic on one of my clients, she immediately said, “Please put the mic here–I don’t want to see an antenna sticking out of my head. I guess I’m high maintenance.”

    I applaud her first statement for being clear and direct. All of you, whenever you have a mic, should be concerned about having an antenna sticking out of your head–the Martian look is definitely a detractor from projecting leadership presence.

    So is negative self-talk. Here’s how to get beyond that impulse to put yourself down, and be in the best position to command respect before you give a presentation.

    Focus on the good, not the bad and the ugly

    The easiest way to counter negative talk is to visualize yourself in a moment that makes you feel safe and calm. For me, that means stretching out on the beach with my eyes closed as I feel the warm breeze on my skin. Your image might look completely different from mine–but whatever you choose, think of a strong image to balance the built-up tension. Don’t get fixated on that pimple that appeared this morning.

    Focus on succeeding rather than failing

    Failures are extremely memorable. Whether your experience occurred in kindergarten or grad school, you’re probably still thinking about it many years later. You then get tense and anxious, and you say to yourself, “What if it happens again? I failed before; I can fail again.”

    You know it’s counterproductive to think like this, but you can’t help it. That’s why you need to direct your mind to a different place. Don’t focus on what could go wrong; concentrate on what can go right.

    One of my clients was a heavy weight-lifting champion. In the final round of a big championship, he dropped the weight, was injured, and almost died. But then he healed, trained, and competed again. I asked him how he overcame his fear. He said he focused on succeeding.

    As you prepare to speak, picture yourself speaking confidently. You don’t have to think about giving a presentation. Just picture moments with your family, friends, or even your dog. The key is getting your mind to a relaxed state. The “how” doesn’t matter.

    Stop worrying about your vocabulary

    How many times did you worry about saying the wrong word before you open your mouth? You think that your words will come out wrong, or that you won’t sound sophisticated. You worry about mispronunciation.

    If you get stuck in this loop, you may never get out. The average speaker in a normal conversation makes a mistake every 4.6 seconds, according to Erving Goffman.

    Focus on your message rather than your words. What do you want the audience to come away with? What new insights and takeaways do you want to get across? Your audience isn’t going to care about your range of vocabulary if they feel a sense of connection with what you’re saying.

    Focus on feelings, not faces

    When you’re feeling nervous, you’ll probably start to look for smiling faces in the audience, hoping to assuage any bad feelings you might have. This is a natural thought, but it’s not a productive one. Your audience’s facial expression probably has nothing to do with what you’re saying.

    To convey confidence, you need to focus on what will take you forward, not what held you back in the past. Negative self-thought can feel crippling, but there are steps you can take to prevent that from happening. Every presentation is an opportunity to make a fresh start. Don’t let your past experiences take you away from that.


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    The dopey dad who doesn’t know how to change a diaper. The stressed out mom, cleaning the house while her husband does anything else. The soap that will definitely (maybe?) get you laid. All familiar advertising clichés that have been beaten into the ground and into our heads over decades of mediocre marketing. Now Britain’s Advertising Standards Association (ASA) has introduced a new rule that aims to cut out of advertising overtly sexist depictions of men and women in gender stereotypical roles, as well as suggestions that transforming your body will make you romantically successful, and the sexualization of young women.

    The ASA’s gender stereotyping project lead Ella Smillie told the Guardian that the organization doesn’t see its role as social engineering, but rather reflecting the changing standards in society. “Changing ad regulation isn’t going to end gender inequality, but we know advertising can reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, which can limit people’s choices or potential in life,” she said.

    The ASA isn’t a government agency, but an industry organization with a self-regulated code of practice signed on to by all major advertisers. The new rule, which will start being enforced in June 2019, also applies to any social media posts by celebrities and other influencers paid for by advertisers.

    Far from an intrusive Nanny State edict, the new rule is simply dragging lazy, negligent marketers still trafficking in this dreck up to what smart brands are already doing. It’s been two years since the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in the U.S. and the White House announced the #SeeHer initiative to encourage advertisers, content creators, and the media to produce material that authentically portrays diverse women and girls. Also in 2016, Unilever CMO Keith Weed announced that the company pledged to drop all sexist stereotypes from its advertising after research showed that only 2% of ads portray intelligent women.

    At Cannes Lions in 2016, Deutsch president Kim Getty gave a talk called “Men Versus Women: Exploring Marketing’s Impact on Gender Bias,” and told the audience of marketers that because women make up nearly half the workforce, when writing a script with a woman in it, assume she works. “Just start there,” said Getty. “When you’re writing a story for a man, assume he knows how to change a diaper and make dinner. Assume he’s capable, because so many men are awesome and capable. Just start there. So many stories don’t start there. Let’s start with how the world looks today.”

    It’s now 2018, and brands shouldn’t need rules for this.


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    As Groucho Marx once said, outside of a dog, books are man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

    So assuming everyone on your holiday gift list is outside of a dog, you may want to start spreading a little Christmas cheer by putting some pretty ribbons on books and doling them out to everyone you know, love, or just kinda like. Or just go buy yourself a stack of reading material and ignore your family over the holidays.

    If for some reason you don’t feel like supporting Amazon, or you just want to live in a world where independent bookstores still thrive, here is a list of some of the best independent bookstores around, mostly chosen by the book-loving nerds at Fast Company. These stores don’t own Whole Foods, or share an owner with the Washington Post, or trade in face-recogntition technology (that we know of), but they do sell books:


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    As news breaks about CBS’s secret $9.5M settlement with Eliza Dushku over charges of sexual harassment, the network has offered some good news as counterprogramming.

    CBS is reportedly allocating $20M from ousted CEO Les Moonves’ severance package to go to 18 organizations that fight against workplace sexual harassment. It’s all part of the network’s PR strategy to communicate the message: We now realize that sexual harassment, and covering it up or even aiding it internally, is Bad.

    According to Variety, the organizations include: Catalyst; Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors); Free the Bid; Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project; Futures Without Violence;  Girls for Gender Equity / “Me Too” Movement; International Women’s Media Foundation; National Women’s Law Center;  New York Women’s Foundation; Press Forward; Producers Guild of America Foundation; RAINN; STRIVE International; Sundance Institute’s Momentum program; TIME’S UP Entertainment; TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund; Women in Film Los Angeles; Women’s Media Center.

    Whether Moonves stands to receive the remaining $100M of his severance remains to be seen.


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    I want to know who was in the room at Prada when they decided to launch little monkey keychains with black faces and red lips. Did the executives who greenlit these products think these monkeys were just adorable, in a kind of Paul Frank circa early-2000s way? Was there no one in that gorgeously decorated boardroom who thought, “Huh. You know, this is vaguely reminiscent of blackface?”

    Clearly not. Prada has just launched a new line called Pradamalia, a set of figurines in the shape of “mysterious creatures” that were developed at Prada Labs, the company’s design department. But actually, the black monkey called Otto is not really that mysterious. Anybody who is familiar with history will immediately recognize this character, as it immediately draws to mind many hurtful stereotypes that have been directed at black people through racist blackface portrayals and references to monkeys.

    After a Facebook user posted photos of these trinkets on display at Prada’s New York store–and pointed out how racist they were–Prada appeared to respond by taking down the display. In a statement, the brand said that it is withdrawing the monkey from display and circulation.

    And yet it still denies that it had any connection to blackface: “Prada Group abhors racist imagery,” the statement says. “The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.”

    Racism is nothing new in the world of Italian luxury fashion. In 2016, Dolce & Gabanna released a pair of summer shoes, which it named“Slave Sandals.” And just last month that same brand launched a video for the China market featuring a Chinese woman struggling to eat pasta and cannolis with chopsticks. The video caused a major uproar in China and led to a boycott of the brand.

    In this context, it’s surprising that Prada was not more sensitive to how this monkey trinket might be interpreted when it left Prada Labs and went out into the world. The products are so offensive, we initially wondered if they were a hoax. Sadly, it turns out they weren’t.


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    WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service has a new face: Kevin Reilly, the veteran TV exec, most recently at Turner Broadcasting, has been hired to head content strategy at the service that is launching later next year. 

    The service is at the core of the digital strategy that WarnerMedia is pursuing since the company was formed earlier this year, the result of AT&T’s $85-billion acquisition of Time Warner. Not long after the acquisition was finalized, a new streaming service was announced, signaling how eager the company is to compete with rivals like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney in the content wars. Disney’s own entertainment streaming service is also launching at the end of next year. The WarnerMedia platform will include content from Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner.  

    By hiring Reilly, who oversaw programming at NBC, FX, and Fox before landing at Turner, WarnerMedia is bringing on an executive who is not only well-liked and forward-thinking, but who also will be able to smoothly settle into AT&T’s highly corporate culture. He also has a strong track record of working in the youth market. Under his leadership, the Turner brands TNT and TBS were reinvented from sleepy rerun channels to the home of buzzy, award-winning shows like Full Frontal With Samantha Bee and The Alienist. Reilly also oversaw an innovative digital distribution strategy at TBS. In 2017, the company launched all 10 episodes of Search Party, a dark comedy about self-absorbed millennials, on demand in order to encourage binge-watching. When the second season launched, TBS put the first season on its app, ad-free, allowing viewers to watch the show without the usual authentication from cable or satellite subscribers.  

    Reilly will continue to head content for Turner even as he oversees the new WarnerMedia app. 


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    Last year, a jury awarded a California woman $417 million when she developed ovarian cancer after almost a lifetime of using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. The award included $70 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $347 million in punitive damages. If a new Reuters report is accurate, though, that may be just the tip of the iceberg for Johnson & Johnson.

    Reuters reviewed internal documents indicating the company knew its baby powder was sometimes tainted with asbestos, a known carcinogen, but kept that information from regulators and the public, thereby letting its customers sprinkle asbestos on their bodies–and on their babies–for decades.

    Both talc (the basis of talcum powder) and asbestos are naturally occurring minerals that are found together in the earth, making it easy to accidentally mine asbestos along with the talc. Because of that, Johnson & Johnson regularly tested its talc and, according to Reuters, “from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos” and executives and other employees failed “to disclose it to regulators or the public.”

    Johnson & Johnson, of course, denies these claims and even Reuters admits that most tests did not find asbestos, but points out that “only a tiny fraction of the company’s talc is tested.” But to be clear, the World Health Organization says there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

    We’ve reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment and will update if we hear back.

    Johnson & Johnson shares plunged 9% after the report came out, CNBC reports.

    Per Reuters, around 11,700 plaintiffs are claiming that Johnson & Johnson’s talc caused their cancers, including thousands of women with ovarian cancer, and some juries are starting to find in their favor. The company has said it will appeal the recent verdicts against it.


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    A decade from now, city transit agencies in California will no longer be able to buy a bus that runs on diesel or natural gas. The California Air Resources Board, the state’s clean air agency, just voted on a new rule that will require cities to shift to 100% electric buses over time.

    It’s happening at a time when many California cities are already starting to buy new electric buses; more than 100 zero-emissions buses are already on roads in the state, and hundreds more are on order. But the new rule will make things move faster.

    “The rule is necessary because it sends a clear market signal that the fifth largest economy in the world is serious about zero-emissions transit buses,” says Adrian Martinez, a staff attorney at the nonprofit Earthjustice. “Even though you’ve had a lot of transit agencies step up to the plate to commit to 100%, getting the stamp of approval from a state as big and as powerful as California is important to send a signal nationally.”

    The rule applies to all transit buses; school buses and privately operated buses aren’t covered. Starting in 2023, large transit agencies will need to buy electric buses 25% of the time (small agencies have a few extra years for this goal), then 50% by 2026. By 2029, agencies will no longer be allowed to buy a bus that isn’t electric.

    It’s a change that took several years of work to make happen. “The natural gas industry tried to derail this legislation,” says Martinez. “They have a lot to lose, because public transit buses are a pretty core part of their business. This rule threatens them.” Some transit agencies also pushed back. But regulators were persuaded by the ability of electric buses to help with California’s air pollution problem–Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and other cities in the state make up eight of the top 10 most polluted cities in the country–and help lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    The change in California could also help transform other parts of transportation. “Transit agencies have consistently been pioneers in developing cleaner vehicles,” Martinez says. “A lot of times that work translates into the trucking industry, which is a critical industry to clean up.”

    Some key players in the electric bus industry are based in California, such as Proterra, which recently secured a $155 round of investment led by Daimler. The company, led by a former Tesla executive, says that its buses are cheaper than diesel or natural gas over the lifetime of a bus. Some battery electric buses can travel hundreds of miles on a single charge of the battery. But the technology still needs to evolve even more–San Francisco’s transit agency, for example, says that it still needs more proof of the ability of electric buses to handle steep hills and heavy ridership (though electric buses using fuel cells already do operate on the East Bay’s similarly steep hills). In L.A., some electric buses have broken down. “Like with any technology, there’s work that needs to happen,” says Martinez. When L.A. originally shifted to natural gas buses, he says, the transit agency there had to take dozens off the road because of fires and diesel bus breakdowns don’t make the news. In general, electric bus tech is ready.

    California’s shift is actually happening far more slowly than in China, where heavy government subsidies are driving the transition. (In California, some support for electric buses is coming from the state’s gas tax and utility programs to help upgrade infrastructure for charging.) This year, the city of Shenzhen finished converting its entire fleet of 16,000 buses to electric. That’s more than the number of city buses in all of California.


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    The maps we use to navigate planet Earth, to tell us what’s what, lie to us all the time. Take New York City’s transit map, for example. Manhattan is wildly out of scale. The warping of reality is best illustrated by comparing the world famous Central Park to Prospect Park: the former (843 acres) appears to be at least six times the size of Brooklyn’s finest park (526 acres), when it’s not even twice the size.

    Zoom out now. Chances are pretty decent that, relying on similarly flawed maps, everything you understood about the world is wrong. Did you know that California is bigger than the U.K. (all of it)? Or that the contiguous United States could blanket Australia?

    If you did, good for you. If you did not, well there’s hope for you yet, young scholar.

    Interactive mapmaker Neil Kaye has animated a world map that is true to scale. In this version, Greenland is shown a full 16 times smaller than its likeness in the classic Mercator projection, which distorts land size so that countries farther away from the equator appear larger.

    Notice that some other textbook titans–including Canada, Russia, and China–all shrink, while the continent of Africa, and its 54 countries (home to varied climates, cultures, cuisines, and more), flexes its properly mapped might. Perspective–and reality–matters in how we think about the world. Hopefully, we can all unlearn what we’ve been taught by maps our whole lives.


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    Something will happen to potentially hundreds of thousands of Tumblr’s 12 million blogs on December 17. That’s the date the company plans to hide from public view all content flagged as “adult” by its image-tagging software. Given how error-prone Tumblr’s algorithms have been, users fear that entire blogs could disappear. Even if the glitches are eventually remedied through an appeals process, lots of content currently on the service (like porn) will not pass the new restrictions.

    Since Tumblr announced the ban on December 3, bloggers with NSFW content have been scrambling to move to other sites, build new sites, and/or archive blogs till they can figure out next steps. As the deadline looms, here are some tools, companies, volunteer projects, and individuals offering lifeboats.

    Making emergency backups

    As a first step, blog owners should make a backup before December 17. Tumblr says that users will still be able to do this afterwards, but given the buggy-ness in the AI system, and the scale of the take-down project, why risk a technical glitch that may wipe out content?

    Tumblr offers its own export tool under Account>Help>Your account>Blog management>Export your blog. This will download a zip archive of folders and files containing posts, media, and messages. Getting that compressed content back into something functional could be quite a challenge, although some new sites are working on ways to help.

    That said, the process appears to be rather glitchy. It took about 18 hours from the time I pressed the button to back up my small blog until I got a message that the 4.2MB zip file was ready to download. A Tumblr spokesperson declined to comment on my experience, or on efforts by users to migrate from its platform.

    In the meantime, a group of volunteers called the Archive Team is in the midst of a mass download of 700,000 Tumblr blogs identified as NSFW and plans to preserve as many as it can get on the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive. To date, it has saved over 100,000.

    Migrating to a new blog

    There are a few options to keep your Tumblr blog up and running on a different server. For now, this is more about staying online than maintaining anything like the community you had on Tumblr.

    Timbr. The platform was quickly built by engineer Kirill Nikolaev after the content ban was announced as a refuge for blogs. Simply enter the blog name in its import tool, and a functional copy quickly appears on the server. Timbr aims to ultimately re-create what Tumblr has been: a community with all kinds of people and ideas, including NSFW material. Several other projects aspire to do the same thing. It’s unclear which, if any, will succeed. But Timbr is at least a place to keep your blog alive in the meantime.


    Related: The frantic, unprecedented race to save 700,000 NSFW Tumblrs for posterity


    WordPress. The blogger juggernaut’s Tumblr import tool works even if you just use WordPress software on your own web domain. If your blog also lives on WordPress.com, you will face restrictions against “visual depictions of sexually explicit acts . . . that can be considered pornographic,” but not, “text, images, and videos that contain nudity, offensive language, and mature subject material.” Expect headaches arguing over which bucket your content falls into. But WordPress policies are more permissive than those of Tumblr, Squarespace, and Blogger.

    Joining existing communities

    Twitter. Given its pretty liberal content policies, Twitter has emerged as a reluctant refuge for many folks with edgy blogs–even though it lacks the customizable community feel of Tumblr. You can find the Twitter handles (and some other accounts) for nearly 1,000 popular bloggers on a crowdsourced spreadsheet called The Tumblr Exodus Lifeboat.

    Dreamwidth Studios. This labor of love has been hosting all kinds of material for a decade. Porn is welcome–except, of course, child pornography. And offensive speech is tolerated as long as it doesn’t incite real-world violence. Over a decade, Dreamwidth has emerged as an eclectic collection rich in erotica and fan fiction. Surviving on modest subscriptions from power users, the 10-year-old platform lacks funding for slick design and multimedia. Accounts provide just 500MB of storage, only for still images.


    Related: Are.na Is What A Designer-Led Social Network Looks Like 


    Building future communities

    Pillowfort. This Kickstarter darling has emerged as the hottest hope for NSFW refugees. Pillowfort has the feel of Tumblr, with Facebook-like privacy controls. For instance, each post can be made viewable to everyone, followers, followers whom you also follow, or just you. Users can also turn on or off reblogging and commenting for each post. Though still in beta, the site—founded by Julia Baritz—has absorbed 10,000 new users in two weeks and halted new signups until an unspecified future date.

    TumblrX. Emerging from a humorous conversation on Twitter, this site is now under construction, with a demo home page showing a sparse design. Despite the name, it aspires to be a diverse site with more than just NSFW content. The platform is temporarily housed on the very permissive image-hosting Booru Project, but will eventually live at tumblrx.com. One of the organizers—who goes by the handle @Riot_Cinema—says they aim to create a tool for importing zip files of Tumblr blogs.

    Mojo Fire. Like TumblrX, Mojo Fire is founded by the sex-positive community and wants to welcome less-kinky members, too. The creators aim to build and import tool, too, says a spokesperson who goes by @MsLolaBohemia. Also like TumblrX, Mojo Fire has just a teaser page on public view.


    Related: Meet the Tumblr castaways trying to find a new home for their adult content


    Given the challenges—financial, logistical, inertial—it remains to be seen if anyone can re-create, or maybe even top, the freewheeling community vibe that Tumblr has fostered over the years. But it’s a testament to how important that community has been that so many are trying.


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    Americans tend to have fiercely varying tastes when it comes to entertainment, which might explain why Game of Thrones remains bafflingly more popular than Match Game. But one thing we can all agree on is that we’re all paying for way too many streaming services. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, CBS All-Access, and a bundled service like Sling TV, consumers could easily be paying north of $75 a month to stream all their favorite content—to say nothing of future costs incurred from forthcoming services like Disney+ and whatever WarnerMedia comes out with.

    It’s daunting to think about, especially when you consider that the reason you cut the cord in the first place was to save money.

    A new report from analyst firm MoffettNathanson might help you figure out where to trim the fat. Using rankings from IMDb, the firm looked at the top 50 shows TV shows of all time, and then it figured out which of those shows are available on one of the top three streaming platforms: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Netflix came out on top, with 22 of the top 50 shows available on its platform. Hulu had 16 of the shows, while Amazon had only five. The remaining eight shows were not licensed to any of the services, MoffettNathanson found.

    Of course, it’s not a perfect metric. By IMDb standards, the top five most popular shows of all time are The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and The Walking Dead, according to MoffettNathanson’s analysis. So take that for what it’s worth.

    Still, it’s interesting in the sense that Netflix has a sizable head start that will prove a commodity as the streaming wars heat up. As we’ve seen with the fight over Friends a few weeks ago, that’s already happening. WarnerMedia owns Friends, in addition to Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones, and that will certainly offer leverage when its parent company, AT&T, rolls out its planned streaming service next year.

    In its analysis, MoffettNathanson also found that Hulu has the edge when it comes to controlling its own top content: Of those 16 top shows we mentioned, it gets 12 of them from one of its parent studios. Conversely, only five of Netflix’s 22 top shows are made in house.

    Amazon, with five of the top 50 shows, only makes two of those on its own, so clearly it has some catching up to do. Then again, the company owns IMDb, so it really doesn’t like what it sees here, it can always just shut it down.


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    Back in July, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat used billboards to cheekily welcome Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to Finland, “the land of the free press.” Now the paper is marking other Earthly disasters with a limited series of Christmas sweaters. But instead of gaudy reindeer, the sweaters represent the ugliest news of 2018. So it’s war, climate change, plastic ocean pollution, sexual harassment, and technological manipulation. Except, y’know, on a wool sweater. Onward!

    Aviation Gin “The Process”

    What: A sneak peak at possibly the most twee supply chain ever.

    Who: Aviation Gin

    Why we care: Look, we all love Deadpoo…er, Ryan Reynolds. (As a Canadian, I have to say that before I can get my passport renewed.) And here the actor/booze proprietor doesn’t disappoint, with a self-aware pisstake of alcohol advertising that hits the buzzed nail on the head. Basically, the opposite of this. It’s funny, laid back, and almost makes you forget that gin once had the nickname “mother’s ruin,” and its introduction into polite society is associated with “historical accounts of violence, widespread addiction, and social devastation.” Refreshing!

    Helsingin Sanomat “The Ugliest News of the Year”

    What: The ugliest news of the year depicted on holiday sweaters.

    Who: Helsingin Sanomat, TBWA/Helsinki

    Why we care: The holidays are meant to be fun, but here the newspaper is able to creatively use a quaint Christmas-themed gag to illustrate the severity of the issues facing humanity.

    Anomaly “O Human Being”

    What: WHAAAAAT.

    Who: Anomaly

    Why we care: Easily the weirdest Christmas video you’ll see this year. I won’t spoil it, save for two reasons to drop what you’re doing and watch it immediately: 1) It’s narrated by Richard E. Grant. 2.) It’s narrated by Richard E. Grant.

    Lyft “Nope/Yep”

    What: A new Lyft campaign that evaluates the pros and cons of driving your own car.

    Who: Lyft, Wieden+Kennedy

    Why we care: A very simple idea, creatively and effectively executed. Basically, driving sucks, so why not let someone else do it for you? The great casting and solid comedic timing are no surprise considering its directed by funny ad master Tom Kuntz, and the spot provides two convenient answers to the crucial questions, should I drive? (Nope.) Or take a Lyft? (Yep.)

    Sandy Hook Promise “Point of View”

    What: New PSA from Sandy Hook Promise, marking six years since the tragic shooting.

    Who: Sandy Hook Promise, BBDO New York

    Why we care: Echoing 2016’s “Evan” and last year’s “Tomorrow’s News” , this year Sandy Hook Promise once again highlights the importance of awareness, observation, and communication, when it comes to school shootings before they happen. The gun control status quo persists, and so does the ongoing tragedy that we still need powerful reminders like this.


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    Business Insider’s Rob Price is reporting on the end of Building 8–a much-ballyhooed skunkworks within Facebook dedicated to wildly ambitious hardware research. Its Portal videophone is now a commercial project, and a recent reorg has shuffled its other projects elsewhere at Facebook. As Facebook VP for AR and VR Andrew Bosworth pointed out to me on Twitter, the shift is more about the end of the Building 8 branding than Facebook pulling back on bleeding-edge research. Still, it feels like a notable moment in a six-year-long saga that spans both Facebook and Google.

    Announced in 2016, Building 8 was originally headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s iconic Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is known for its, well, innovative approach to innovation: It believes in small teams that work intensively on big ideas over relatively short periods of time, and sees failure not as an embarrassment but a necessary aspect of invention.

    Prior to Building 8, Dugan headed a similar skunkworks for Google, ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), founded in 2012 and modeled on DARPA’s philosophies. (The group originated as part of Motorola, but Google kept it after selling Moto to Lenovo.) At ATAP, Dugan talked about way-out-there technologies such as an authentication system you could swallow. ATAP’s Tango 3D space mapping was subsumed by Google’s ARCore AR platform, and the Project Ara modular smartphone never reached consumers. But the lab’s Jacquard smart jacket project, a collaboration with Levi’s, remains extant. (It’s the primary subject of ATAP’s Twitter feed.)

    At Facebook’s Building 8, Dugan waxed futuristic about stuff like technology to let you hear through your skin. Her group was also responsible for Portal, which recently shipped. By the time it reached the market, Dugan was gone, having announced her decision to leave Facebook in October 2017.

    Officially, Facebook’s Portal group is the successor to Building 8. That is not out of whack with the practice at DARPA, which believes in nudging its fully realized creations out of the lab once they’re no longer experiments. And Business Insider’s Price reports that work continues on some of Building 8’s more visionary experiments, just within a different research arm called Facebook Reality Labs. But the fact that Dugan’s time at Google and Facebook didn’t seem to transform either company may be a sign that DARPA’s alluring philosophy is tough to turn into new research arms that are built to last.


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    Almost two years ago, I fell into becoming a manager.

    In my past career, I never thought that this would happen. Most of my life I’ve been a maker: working as an engineer, solving technical problems and building apps, products, or just circuit boards.

    People management was a huge change. I learned a lot of things the hard way through trial and error, success and failure–but also by reading a lot: books about management, stories about teams and culture, and articles by others who went through the same transition from maker to manager as I did.

    I thought I’d take the chance to return the favor by writing about the five things that helped me transition from maker to manager, and to level up and grow into my management position.

    1. Say goodbye to your work and say hello to your team

    I know this is a really tricky one: to stop doing what you’ve been doing for the past several years, and what also ultimately got you to this point in your career.

    Here’s the perspective that I needed to embrace: Becoming a manager is not a promotion, it is a career change.

    Viewing it this way, change is normalized. In my case, I realized that, after a while, coding became a distraction for me. At the beginning of this shift, I was still shipping features and bug fixes while also doing one-to-ones with the team on a weekly basis. I couldn’t fully concentrate on one or the other, and that resulted in me doing a bad job in both areas. Both areas are important, but you have to choose one. In my case, I chose the team, and not the code.

    As a manager you need to put the company first, your team second, and your team members last.

    Now this may sound harsh, but in practice, it leads to the best outcomes for everyone involved. For example, let’s say you mixed up the order of these priorities: You put team members first and the company last. You could easily find yourself with an amazing team, building something that doesn’t move the needle in any way for the company. Or worse, you could end up with a group of empowered individuals, each going off on their own way and not producing much valuable work.

    It is incredibly important for you as a manager to understand the higher-level vision of your company. You need to know where the ship needs to sail. Only then can you help your team get there and help them grow in the right direction.

    2. Own your education

    This one is probably pretty straightforward and could be said about any role or any job. But it is still worth mentioning, especially in a career shift similar to mine, going from maker to manager.

    I always use this quote from Albert Einstein to highlight how important learning is for us humans (just replace “moving” with “learning”):

    Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance you must keep moving.

    The main thing I did in my first few weeks and months was to read, read, read. I needed to learn what management actually is. What are some effective management styles? How do I facilitate great one-to-ones? How can I be a great manager without ending up micro-managing everything?

    I learned how important it is to be open and honest, and to build trust in my team, and to encourage discussions.

    I learned more about everyone in my team, what they like and don’t like. What is their work style? Do they flourish in chaotic situations or dread them? All these details are important to understand, to help each individual grow and perform at their best.

    I learned about the different processes we had or were missing at Buffer. Your job as a manager is to make the life of your team easier and to move obstacles out of their way. So knowing how things are done and where you can improve them is highly important.

    Here are a couple of books I would encourage everyone to read, who leads a team or manages one:

    Managing Humans by Michael Loop
    Really insightful for first-time managers, and learning what’s it’s all about, and foremost, learn that it is all about humans.

    The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier
    Awesome overview of the what roles an engineering team normally has, and what the expectations in those job might be.

    The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
    I would call this my favorite book when it comes to building great teams. Although it is written in a fable style, it is so insightful, and so resourceful! Really recommend this to everyone who works in a team.

    3. Build Your Megazord

    If you grew up in the ’90s or know the Power Rangers, the Megazord is the big robot they create together when they need to fight a bigger, more powerful enemy. They could never fight an enemy that big alone, so they come together and form this huge, invincible machine.

    We all know that the sum is always bigger than the parts. It’s true for Power Rangers. It’s true for management. In other words, as you’re making the transition from maker to manager, it’s vital that you create a support network.

    Find people who will push you out of your comfort zone and show you a new way of doing things. Surround yourself with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. Find psychologists, design leaders, or even a kitchen chef. Understanding how others approach problems or find solutions is so key in broadening your horizon.

    And there was even an easy way for me to do so. I signed up to two Slack Communities at the beginning of my transition. Just by learning how others approach those things or learning that bigger companies or more experienced leaders still struggle with similar problems was super helpful to me.

    4. Don’t do it all

    This fourth point is something I just discovered recently, and it opened my mind. We all know that delegation becomes more important the more people you might lead or the more work you have on your hands.

    Delegating sounds easy, right? I just tell everyone what to do!

    Well I thought so, too, but I discovered that it is not easy, and that it requires active work to do delegation the right way.

    I thought I was doing great in my job, everything was going well, then I discovered this article by Camille Fournier: When Being “Helpful” Is Actually Hurting. (Notice the airquotes around “helpful.”)

    This article opened my eyes! I wasn’t doing bad, but there were a lot of improvements I took from this article. The biggest learning, which I have written in front of me on a sticky-note at my desk, is:

    I need to stop taking over work in the name of helpfulness.

    For instance, if you tell someone on your team that you want to look over all the proposals and be the last one to have a say in something, you limit their growth.

    As soon as I understood that, I felt bad. Here I was, thinking I was helping. But essentially when I took over someone’s work or helped them out, I was blocking my team from growing!

    5. Being productive in a different way

    Last but not least is something almost everyone changing jobs has to cope with.

    When you work as a maker/engineer, your output is easily measurable. You know what you are doing, and you have something to show at the end of a day. Either something written, something working in your app or your website, or even something you can touch. You can say to yourself–“Nice, I did something today, I was productive.”

    Here is a quick comparison of what I used as a productivity indicator when I was an engineer:

    But now as a manager all I had was this:

    As you can see in the screenshot above, your calendar automatically fills up, and at the end of a day, you have meetings to show, not features, bug fixes, blog posts, etc. This was pretty hard for me, I didn’t know if I was productive in a day or not. I had nothing to measure it with until I realized that my job now is to make the team work, to chat to people and resolve problems, and help the team to flourish. If the impact of your work as a manager is not immediately visible, it’ll play out over the long run.

    Having patience and trust is key when shifting jobs from maker to manager. Feel comfortable with what you do. If your team is doing great, you are doing a great job.


    A version of this article originally appeared on Buffer and was adapted with permission. 


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    Since Amazon bought warehouse robotics company Kiva Systems in 2012, its efforts in automation have been well known. The retail and tech powerhouse has introduced its cashierless Amazon Go stores, flirted with plans for drone deliveries, and rolled out tens of thousands of robots to shuffle goods around its fulfillment centers.

    “In fulfillment centers that have drive units, we’re able to store up to 40% more inventory and move customer orders in a faster, more efficient way,” wrote VP of robotics Brad Porter in an email to Fast Company, referring to the Kiva-derived warehouse transport bots. “As a result, we can make faster deliveries, offer lower prices, and ultimately, deliver a better customer experience.”

    But Amazon hasn’t been alone in pushing to bring robotics to the world of retail. Archrival Walmart has been adding bots to many of its warehouses and stores. A grocery distribution center in Shafter, California, is set to open in 2020, with new technology in place to shuttle even perishable goods around the warehouse without damaging them. In a Salem, New Hampshire, Walmart, automated carts will soon shuttle components of online grocery orders from an attached warehouse to be packaged up by human workers.

    Other store bots include an autonomous scrubber that’s set to clean floors in 360 Walmart stores by the end of January, a robotic truck-unloading system that can sort and triage new deliveries on their way to shelves, and even machines that roll through store aisles to track inventory and spot misshelved goods.

    “This robot can do in about two-and-a-half hours what it was taking an associate around two weeks to do, which is go through all of a department and scan the merchandise and determine where are the [out of stock items], where do we need to get the merchandise, the out of stock levels, those type of things,” says Walmart spokesperson Ragan Dickens.

    Automated pickup towers in many stores also deliver customers their online orders without them having to wait on a store employee.

    Separately, supermarket chain Kroger last month announced plans with a U.K. online retailer to build “an automated warehouse facility with digital and robotic capabilities” outside of Cincinnati, and Bossa Nova, the San Francisco company that’s brought shelf-scanning bots to dozens of Walmart stores, is working with at least five other as-yet-unnamed retailers on similar projects, says chief business officer Martin Hitch.

    “This is the most exciting time in retail in roughly the past 100 years,” says Sterling Hawkins, head of operations and venture relations for the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, which connects retailers and tech vendors. “Finally, this emerging technology–automation, AI, robotics–is at a point where it can actually deliver on the vision technically and economically.”

    Will jobs be destroyed or created?

    Stores say automation can help them get goods to customers more efficiently. Those Amazon robots mean warehouses can store more goods and enable the fast deliveries that the company’s become known for, according to the company. Similarly, Walmart says its robots mean fewer customers will be unable to buy their favorite products because they’re sitting on the loading dock instead of on the shelf where they belong.

    But some critics fear robots will inevitably also take jobs away from retail, warehouse, and maintenance workers.

    “Make no mistake, Walmart’s move to autonomous floor cleaners is not about better serving customers and workers,” warned the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s Making Change at Walmart project in a statement last week. “This latest job-killing venture has the potential to destroy over 5,000 maintenance jobs in the U.S. if it is implemented in every Walmart store.”

    The union, which based that number on an assumption that the devices would ultimately mean one less maintenance position per store, has had similar criticism for Amazon’s push to automation.

    “Amazon is clearly determined to profit by creating a future where automation replaces good jobs,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in an open letter to Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey last year, as that supermarket chain was being acquired by Amazon.

    More recently, he’s expressed concern about a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon is testing its cashier-free systems for larger stores, potentially including Whole Foods locations.

    Amazon declined to comment to Fast Company about that report, but in general the company has said automation has helped it create jobs, not replace human workers.

    “We are both creating jobs and adding automation,” Porter wrote, saying the company has added more than 300,000 full-time workers since 2012. “Automation has allowed us to offer increasing selection with faster delivery at lower cost. This is a virtuous cycle allowing our business to continue to grow and create more jobs.”

    Walmart’s Dickens, too, says the chain’s robots are allowing employees to focus on tasks machines can’t do, like cleaning areas where robots can’t reach or restocking shelves that a robot has pointed out are running low. And, he emphasizes, newly automated tasks like scrubbing floors, checking out online orders, or checking shelves for products in need of replacement aren’t the entirety of anyone’s shift.

    “These are portions of a larger role that the associate is playing,” he says.

    In some cases, they’re also automating away the more unpleasant parts of tasks like unloading trucks in the back of a store, potentially improving the job and reducing turnover. They also let staff spend more time directly helping customers, he says.

    “While yes, there’s robotics in the store, it’s assisting the associate with their job rather than replacing it,” he says. “What we’re working on is providing our associates good jobs and providing out customers good experiences.”

    “The store is changing”

    Walmart typically employs about 300 people in its “Supercenter” stores and about 90 in its smaller “Neighborhood Market” locations. A 2015 Reuters report found the stores employed fewer people per square foot that year than 10 years ago, with store space per employee rising to 547 square feet from 407 square feet in 2005. At the time, Walmart attributed the change to efficiency improvements, including “shelf-ready packaging,” motorized devices to transport shopping carts, and the rise of self-checkout.

    Dickens declined to speculate on what employment numbers might look like in the future, saying stores will continue to evolve to meet changing customer needs.

    “The store is changing,” he says. “It’s different today than it was 10 years ago, and I imagine in 10 years it will look a little differently than it does today.”

    That new technology will let workers spend more time working with the public instead of putting them out of a job is a common refrain, heard from police departments installing crime cameras and airlines shifting to biometric check-in as well as retailers. It may sound hard to believe, but it has happened in other industries: As bank customers moved many transactions from the teller desk to ATMs, bank employment actually went up, since banks could afford to open more branches with fewer tellers each, says Jim Bessen, executive director of the Technology & Policy Research Initiative at Boston University.

    “The nature of the job changed so it was much more of a marketing job,” he says. “They would play a more crucial role in helping sell products that the bank offers to customers that are higher margin than cash handling.”

    So far, the shift to e-commerce has created more jobs than it’s taken away, and fulfillment center jobs often pay better than traditional retail hours, says Michael Mandel, the chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute. “We estimate that e-commerce jobs in fulfillment centers and
    e-commerce companies rose by 400,000 from December 2007 to June 2017, substantially exceeding the 140,000 decline of brick-and-mortar retail jobs,” he writes in a paper published last year.

    “Historically, we’ve seen that increases in productivity are very often linked to increases in employment because you can do things you couldn’t do before,” he says. “In this case it’s been super clear that people are now using online [shopping] to buy all sorts of things like kitty litter rather than going to the store.”

    Mandel says he’s optimistic that automation will lead to job creation, even if retailers continue to automate. If the retail sector ultimately cuts jobs because it’s cheaper to replace humans with robots, it’s likely that will mean cheaper distribution costs for manufacturers, which could spell new business models popping up and product makers employing humans in new roles.

    Kroger’s first customer fulfillment center–an automated warehouse facility with digital and robotic capabilities, also known as a “shed”–will be constructed in Monroe, OH, a suburb north of Cincinnati. [Photo: courtesy of Kroger]

    Rocky transition for longtime retail workers

    To Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a longtime critic of Amazon and big box chain stores, the concern isn’t so much the rise of automation but the fact that community businesses, small manufacturers, and entrepreneurs pursuing a better life can’t thrive amid price pressure from the retail giants.

    “I don’t think we should want to hang on to these terrible warehouse jobs,” says Mitchell. “What I am concerned about is the effect that consolidation is having on new business formation.”

    Even if automation does create new jobs, it could be a rocky transition for some longtime retail workers. An influential report on workplace automation released by McKinsey last December warned that while technological changes often do create more jobs than they erase, it will be essential to ensure people have access to training to let them quickly move into those new occupations.

    “Increased investment and productivity growth from automation could spur enough growth to ensure full employment, but only if most displaced workers find new work within one year,” according to the report. “If reemployment is slow, frictional unemployment will likely rise in the short-term and wages could face downward pressure.”

    About 3.4 million people currently work as retail cashiers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, and UFCW communications director Erikka Knuti argues it’s unclear what sorts of work they’d switch to in a world of largely automated commerce.

    “Those are good jobs that can provide a person with a living and a way to provide a better living for their family,” she says. “They’re not going to all go to Silicon Valley and start coding, and not everybody can do warehouse work.”


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    Despite a federal judge striking down the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as unconstitutional on Friday, the healthcare law remains in effect during the appeals process. The case may very well head to the U.S. Supreme Court, but for now, the estimated 4.1 million people who signed up for plans on Healthcare.gov will be insured for 2019.

    Unfortunately, the open enrollment period ended at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, in most states. If you’re reading this because life or work got in the way, and you missed the deadline, you’re not completely out of luck. Here are a few options:

    • You can still apply for ACA coverage if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life event like losing other coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. In a few very limited situations, you could qualify outside the enrollment period thanks to a Special Enrollment Periods for complex issues.
    • You can apply any time if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
    • Plans that aren’t minimum essential coverage, including short-term coverage, fixed indemnity plans, critical illness plans, accident supplements, etc. are not regulated by the Affordable Care Act, and allow year-round enrollment.
    • States that run their own exchanges can extend open enrollment, before or after the regularly scheduled enrollment period. For 2019 coverage, that includes California, Colorado, Rhode Island, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and the District of Colombia.
    • If you applied, but your coverage was denied, you can appeal a decision. Download an appeal request form for your state from healthcare.gov.