January 28, 2019

Via Morning Brew <> newsletter December 1, 2018

“The discount shoe retailer Payless ShoeSource opened a fake pop-up store in Los Angeles called “Palessi.” The goal?

  • Dupe fashion influencers into paying hundreds of dollars for shoes that go for…oh, $19.99.
  • Then…tell them the truth, get their surprised reactions on camera, and use the clips in a series of commercials.

In total, shoppers spent $3,000 over two nights. One even bought a pair of boots for $640, equivalent to an 1,800% markup.

Bottom line, courtesy of Payless CMO Sarah Couch: ‘The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,’ she told Adweek. That reminder is necessary, considering Payless filed for bankruptcy in 2017.”

Do this for at least 5 hours per week

January 28, 2019

By Meredith Lepore via  Article

Average retirement savings by age

January 28, 2019

By Tim Parker via  Article


If you’re in your twenties and just starting out in your career, your paycheck probably reflects that fact. You’re also likely to be carrying a good amount of student-loan debt. The average monthly student-loan payment for someone in their 20s was $351, according to 2015 data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. High levels of debt combined with an entry-level salary help explain why the average twentysomething has an estimated median amount of $16,000 socked away, according to a 2015 survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

On the bright side, those in their 20s should have around 40 years before they retire, which is a lot of time to make up a shortfall. The single most important thing to do is to contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan. You can contribute up to $18,500 in 2018 and up to $19,000 in 2019. Investment management firm Fidelity recommends that you put aside at least 15% of your pre-tax income a year for retirement. ….. save as much as you can, and make sure you save enough to get the full benefit of your company’s matching contribution if one is offered. Don’t turn away free money.


… Transamerica data shows thirtysomethings have a median $45,000 saved. Depending on your age and annual salary, you might be OK. According to Fidelity, you should have about the equivalent of your annual salary saved as a nest egg at age 30, twice your salary at age 35 and three times your salary by the time you exit your 30s. To reach these goals, it is a good idea to tighten up your family budget where you can and try to increase the percentage of your salary that you’re saving annually if at all possible. If you haven’t started saving yet, you will need to save a higher percentage of your annual income. For instance, if you don’t start saving until you are 30, Fidelity recommends you put aside 18% of your salary a year, while someone starting at age 35 should try to save 23% a year. Putting aside nearly a quarter of your income for retirement is a tall order for anyone with monthly bills and debt, and this underscores the importance of saving early.

Finally, don’t be too conservative with your investing choices. You’re still young enough to weather big market downswings because your portfolio has time to recover.”

10 signs you’re mentally strong

January 28, 2019

By Amy Morin via  Article

10 Signs You’re a Mentally Strong Person (Even Though Most People Think These Are Weaknesses)

1) Being kind. showing compassion for a neighbor, giving a colleague the benefit of the doubt, and spending your spare time helping someone with a project could be a sign of strength. …

2) Changing your mind. … Whether your ideas about politics have changed over time or your values have shifted as you’ve grown older, changing your mind might be proof you are growing and learning.

3) Acknowledging your weaknesses. … Acknowledging you’re bad at confronting people or that you struggle to be organized might show you’re strong enough to admit your imperfections. …

4) Being patient. … reaching big goals–like getting out of debt or getting in shape–takes patience. Real change doesn’t happen overnight and exercising the patience needed to get there takes strength. 

5) Asking for help. Saying, ‘I can’t do this on my own,’ is a real act of courage. Whether you ask your boss for more assistance or you reach out to a mental health professional, asking for help requires humility and strength of character. …

6) Failing.  If you succeed at everything you do, it means you’re living far inside your comfort zone. Making mistakes and failing means you’re challenging yourself–which is clearly a sign of strength. …

 7) Expressing emotions. Some people are quick to show anger but lurking just beneath those angry feelings are more uncomfortable emotions, like sadness, embarrassment, and disappointment. Yet, it’s often easier to say, ‘You’re an idiot,’ rather than, ‘My feelings are hurt. …

8) Walking away. … it takes strength to step away from something that isn’t working out–especially when you’ve devoted a lot of resources to a task (or a person). But walking away might show you’re willing to act in accordance with your values–even though you might face some ridicule. 

9) Improving yourself. … Whether you join a support group, attend therapy, listen to self-help podcasts, or attend spiritual retreats, a desire for self-growth is a sign of strength.

 10) Staying calm. … Being able to regulate your emotions is a hallmark of mental strength. That’s not to say you won’t feel angry (anger can be a very healthy and helpful emotion) but it does mean you’ll be able to behave in a productive manner even when you feel upset.”

Interesting conversations with absolutely anyone

January 21, 2019

By Betsy Mikel via  Article

The Only Icebreaker You Need to Spark Interesting Conversations With Absolutely Anyone

“Small talk is the worst. Trying to find common ground with someone you’ve never met before–and may never meet again–is doomed to be awkward. … Like it or not, your future holds many conversations with strangers that must start somewhere, usually with small talk. There are networking events to suffer through, friends of friends to meet, and job interviews to hopefully not bomb. Here’s how to do small talk right.

An icebreaker that works in every situation

There’s one icebreaker question that’ll work every single time. It comes from Terry Gross, who is a legendary interviewer. … She tells the New York Times this is the only icebreaker you need: Tell me about yourself. This is much more effective than the dreaded, ‘So what do you do?’ because you don’t make any assumptions about the other person. Here’s why Gross said these four words are more likely to lead to a genuinely interesting conversation: ‘It allows you to start a conversation without the fear that you’re going to inadvertently make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious. Posing a broad question lets people lead you to who they are.’

Stay curious and engaged

After you get past the initial breaking of ice, your next move is equally as important. You have to really listen to how the other person responds and care what they have to say. Don’t instantly zone out. Don’t drain your drink so you can quickly exit the conversation. Tune in to what they’re excited about. Build upon it. Ask them more questions about that thing. Gross says having a good conversation comes down to curiosity. You need to want to hear what the other person has to say. Bringing enthusiasm and energy to the conversation will go a long way.

And you’ve heard it before, but Gross wants you to hear it again. Body language, people. Pay attention to body language. If you’re paying attention, you can tell if someone’s interest is waning. Even if you’re excited about a certain topic, the other person might not be. Body language like eyes wandering, crossed arms, or turning away from you signals boredom.  

How to exit gracefully

Not every conversation will be a slam dunk. Inevitably, you’re going to get a dud. Or, you just run out of things to talk about. Gross has one last trick for you (which isn’t really a trick at all). Be honest. Say you’ve got to go–to the bar, to the bathroom, to say hi to your friend across the room. Then go. Sure, it might feel rude. But do you really want to be stuck talking to someone when you have nothing to talk about? Think of it like this: Ditching one lame conversation frees you up to start another with someone new, leading to a potentially interesting discussion. There’s only one way to find out. It starts with, ‘So Bob, tell me about yourself.'”

Red and blue

January 21, 2019

By  via  Article

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

“Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

  • America’s two political tribes have consolidated into ‘red’ and ‘blue’ nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN’s partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both ‘red’ and ‘blue’ America

If more proof were needed that the U.S. is two nations in one, it was offered by the recent mid-term elections. Democrats swept the House, but Republicans managed to increase their Senate majority. There is less middle ground, and less appetite for compromise, than ever.

To oversimplify America’s electoral divide: Democrats win votes in urban, coastal areas; Republicans gain seats in the rural middle of the country. Those opposing blocs have consolidated into ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states decades ago.

Occasionally, and often after tight-run presidential elections, that divide is translated into a cartographic meme that reflects the state of the nation.”


Which is better?

January 21, 2019

By James Lawther via  Article

“Should you be more efficient or more productive?  On the face of it they sound like very similar things, so does it matter which you strive to be?

  • Efficiency is the amount of input you use to produce a standard level of output.  If you become more efficient you do the same for less.
  • Productivity is the amount of output you get from a standard level of input.   If you become more productive you do more for the same.

Mathematically they are identical

You can use the same metrics to measure them both:

  • Tonnes / Man-day
  • Tasks / Hour
  • Orders / FTE

The only difference is the part of the equation that changes, you either push the numerator up or the denominator down.

Organisationally they are similar

You do the same things to improve them; reduce rework, cut travel time, remove waste, decrease defects and increase through-put.  But you have to cash them in differently:

To improve efficiency you have to take resources out of the organisation.  You will only make more money if you cut costs.  Efficiency improvements need your organisation to shrink.

To improve productivity you have to ship more.  You will only make more money if you boost revenues. Productivity improvements need your organisation to grow.

… In growing organisations people are proud to be part of the action.  Because they are proud they give more of themselves, discretionary effort goes up and so does engagement.  As engagement and effort go up the organisation becomes more productive and develops the capacity to allow it to grow.

… In shrinking organisations people keep their heads down.  They distrust their managers and are fearful for their pay check.  Engagement goes down and discretionary effort shrinks to nothing.  Why would you offer to help improve things if you are putting your job at risk?”