Andy Jassy’s empathetic return-to-office memo is a leadership case study in how to manage uncertainty, Fortune 500 consultants say

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy motions with his hands on stage at the GeekWire Summit.
Andy Jassy, Amazon’s CEO, sent out his latest company-wide memo on Monday.

  • Earlier this week, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy sent a company-wide memo explaining return-to-office plans.
  • Fortune 500 communications consultants analyzed the memo for Insider.
  • They said Jassy displayed transparency and empathy – key ingredients when managing uncertainty.

The pandemic fundamentally changed where and how we work, and CEOs – including Amazon’s Andy Jassy – are still grappling with how to communicate uncertainties to their teams.

In a recent company-wide memo, Jassy nimbly explained why Amazon’s leadership has taken so long to decide when employees should return to the office. He declared that decisions on who would return to the office and how often would be made by team leaders. The letter follows similar notes from other top companies, such as Apple, Google, and PwC, that have been rolling out their own return-to-office policies.

Communications consultants who work with Fortune 500 companies said Jassy’s memo was a case study in transparency and navigating uncharted territory.

Suzanne Bates, the author of “Speak Like a CEO” and a managing director and partner at the leadership consultancy BTS, called the memo a blueprint for other companies seeking to mitigate a crisis.

“It’s powerful, timely, authentic, and empathetic,” Bates said. “It’s a lesson in that you can’t just make a decision if you want employee buy-in and leave it at that. You have to explain your reasoning, your process.”

Showcasing transparency

As with many companies, Amazon has delayed its decision on returning to the office. In June, employees were told they’d have an answer in September. Then the decision was delayed until January 2022. Jassy began the memo by acknowledging the back-and-forth and empathizing with employees who are coping with paralyzing uncertainty. This is an effort to reestablish trust, Bates said.

“We’ve never been through something like this before, and hope we never encounter it again,” Jassy wrote in the 850-word memo. “When are we really going back to the office, what will that really be like, how will I allocate my time between the office and home, how will others do it?”

When employees “see a question that looks like a question they’ve been asking, they know that the CEO is hearing the voice of the employee,” Bates said. “They think, ‘The CEO is attuned to what we’re talking about.'”

Eric Yaverbaum, the CEO of Ericho Communications, mentioned how Jassy then pivoted to showing vulnerability. Jassy said that he, like many leaders, didn’t have all the answers.

“Look, there are a lot of question marks. And he outlines those. He gives people context. What he methodically lays out is his direction, while leaving room to make adjustments,” Yaverbaum said. “That’s a smart move.”

Both Bates and Yaverbaum said that in a time of such uncertainty, it’s important for a leader to showcase their process of thinking. It may reassure those who might feel as though the situation is out of their control.

Delegation and gratitude

The central question of the memo – when will workers be able to return to the office? – is expected to be determined by directors. Bates said that having the actual decisions be made on a team-by-team basis gives employees the feeling of more agency.

If employees feel like they have no voice in a process, it creates chaos, she said. Jassy delegating that responsibility to managers gives employees the chance to have a say in the process.

In a situation that’s evolving in real time, delegating is a powerful tool for leaders, Bates and Yaverbaum said. Both consultants also agreed that Jassy clearly and carefully outlined the next steps. He asked employees to have patience, thanked them, and gave a specific date by which they would hear about new developments.

“Leadership has got to be empathetic. If you’re not understanding life through the lens of everyone else, you’re not going to get very far,” Yaverbaum said. “His memo shows empathy.”

Bates said Jassy could have mentioned that he’s still concerned about on-the-ground workers’ safety. She said including that specific topic would be her only tweak.

“Overall, this memo is a really good guideline for CEOs to pay attention to,” she added. “They should ask themselves the question: ‘Are we communicating this way enough with our employees?'”

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Can you use PayPal on Amazon? Not directly, but there are a few workarounds

senior woman shopping online on laptop holding credit card
Though you can’t use PayPal to pay for Amazon purchases directly, there are a few things you can do instead.

  • Amazon doesn’t let you pay with PayPal when making purchases.
  • However, you can use the PayPal Cash Card or PayPal Key to make purchases on Amazon.
  • You can also use PayPal to buy an Amazon gift card, and then make purchases on Amazon.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

In the world of online shopping, Amazon and PayPal are widely used. However, if you’ve tried to use your PayPal balance to purchase something on Amazon, you’ll already know that PayPal is not an accepted payment method.

Of course, you can transfer your PayPal balance to your bank account to use those funds however you please, but if you’re set on using it to buy things on Amazon, there are some workarounds to make it happen.

Can you use PayPal on Amazon?

Amazon doesn’t let you pay with PayPal directly, but you can use the PayPal Cash Card or PayPal Key to make purchases. You can also use PayPal to buy Amazon gift cards.

Here’s how to do it all.

Pay with the PayPal Cash Card

PayPal Cash Card is a debit card that draws funds from your PayPal account, and it works anywhere (online and physical stores) that accepts Mastercard payments (like Amazon). Since it’s a debit card, not a credit card, you need to have a balance on your PayPal account to use a PayPal Cash Card.

To apply for a PayPal Cash Card, simply go to this link, log in to your PayPal account, and follow the on-screen prompts. While there isn’t a credit check involved in the application process, note that PayPal charges fees for adding money to your account.

Screenshot of the PayPal Cash Card landing page
Click “Get the Card” to start the process of applying for a PayPal Cash Card.

Once approved for a PayPal Cash Card, you can use it as a payment method on Amazon the way you would with any other credit or debit card.

Use PayPal Key

PayPal Key is a virtual card that gives you access to your PayPal account when shopping online from vendors that accept Mastercard. It’s similar to the PayPal Cash Card with the key difference being that there’s no physical card; just a card number, expiration date, and security code. Essentially, it’s a virtual card number that lets you use your PayPal balance with online merchants that don’t directly accept PayPal as a payment method.

To apply for PayPal Key, log in to your PayPal account and look for the PayPal Key option. Since this is a new product, it’s not currently available to everyone just yet.

Screenshot of a PayPal account summary page
This user’s account summary page does not show an option for PayPal Key.

Once approved for PayPal Key, you can use it to buy things on Amazon as if it were any other credit or debit card.

Buy Amazon gift cards

One of the easiest ways to use PayPal to buy from Amazon is to purchase Amazon gift cards with your PayPal account. You can buy an Amazon gift card from a site like eGifter.com using a PayPal balance and then use that gift card to shop normally on Amazon.

Just be sure you verify that the site from which you’re buying a gift card is safe and secure.

Why doesn’t Amazon accept PayPal directly?

There are two major reasons that Amazon does not work with PayPal. First, historically PayPal was a part of eBay, one of Amazon’s direct competitors. From 2002 to 2015, PayPal and eBay were linked together. PayPal has since split into an independent brand, but their partnership with eBay remains strong.

Second, PayPal is a direct competitor to Amazon’s own payment service, the rather bluntly named Amazon Pay. Just as with PayPal, Amazon Pay is accepted by numerous third-party retailers, letting you use Amazon payment methods beyond the immediate orbit of Amazon itself.

What is Amazon Prime? The benefits of Amazon’s popular membership program, and whether it’s worth the costHow to cancel your Amazon Prime Video subscription through Amazon’s websiteHow to set up a PayPal account and link a bank account or credit card

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Bose earbuds are down to all-time low prices for Amazon’s early Black Friday sale

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Bose QuietComfort earbuds
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are on sale as part of Amazon’s early Black Friday promotion.

Black Friday 2021 isn’t until November 26, but that isn’t stopping Amazon from offering deep discounts early. Right now, as part of its limited-time Daily Deals, Bose earbuds are down to some of the best prices we’ve seen yet. We don’t know how long the sale will last, and as with all good deals, stock is limited.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds offer some of the best noise-cancelling performance we’ve tested, but they’re expensive at a full retail price of $279. This current discount brings them down to a solid $199, which is the lowest price we’ve seen so far.

The Bose Sport Earbuds, on the other hand, are designed with workouts in mind. Down to $149, this is a great chance to pick up a pair and upgrade your fitness routine. Bose’s Sleepbuds II are also on sale for a limited time. These aren’t traditional earbuds. Instead of playing music, this model is intended to help you sleep better by masking exterior sounds with relaxing audio.

If you’re searching for more earbud recommendations, check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds.

The best Bose earbuds deals on Amazon now

QuietComfort Earbuds (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Sleepbuds II (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Sport Earbuds (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

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6 ways to get free stuff on Amazon

Amazon package and computer
There are a few ways to access free stuff on Amazon.

  • You can get free stuff on Amazon in a variety of ways, even if you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime.
  • It’s possible to get free products in exchange for writing honest Amazon reviews.
  • Third-party websites and Facebook groups can also connect you with free and highly discounted Amazon products.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

You probably don’t need much encouragement to shop at Amazon, but the promise of free stuff certainly doesn’t hurt. In fact, there are a lot of ways to collect freebies from the world’s largest retailer, both from Amazon directly and from its countless merchants.

1. Qualify for the Amazon Vine Program

If you’ve never heard of Amazon Vine, don’t worry – most people haven’t. But if you like to write product reviews on Amazon, you should be aware of Vine, which awards free products to members in exchange for honest and accurate reviews.

Amazon describes Vine as a program in which trusted reviewers are invited to write reviews of new and pre-release products to help other customers make informed decisions. Amazon supplies Vine members with free products and doesn’t influence – or allow Amazon sellers to influence – the reviews.

Amazon Vine is by invitation only; you can’t even apply for consideration. But Amazon keeps an eye on prolific reviewers, and sometimes reaches out to offer them an opportunity to join the Vine program.

2. Participate in the Early Reviewer Program

Amazon maintains an Early Reviewer Program designed to seed relatively new products with reviews so other customers can make a more informed purchase decision.

Unlike Vine, in which select customers are invited to join a program and are then sent products to review, the Early Reviewer Program asks people who have already bought a participating product to write a review about it.

The program is designed to help generate honest and unbiased reviews for products that have few or no reviews. Amazon selects customers who have recently purchased the product at random, filtering out anyone who has previously published reviews that Amazon deems abusive or dishonest. Moreover, potentially biased customers such as sellers and their friends and family are ineligible.

Early Reviewers are rewarded with gift cards (usually bearing a small value, such as $1-$3) after the review is published. Like the Vine program, you can’t apply to participate – Amazon will reach out to you if it wants to offer you the opportunity.

3. Join Facebook groups

You can learn a lot about free (and highly discounted deals) outside of Amazon. There are several active Facebook groups, for example – some public, while others are private and require approval to join – that post a steady stream of stories about free and cheap products as well as other money-saving shopping tips.

These Facebook groups are a mixed bag, so tread carefully. Facebook considers them a source of fake reviews, and it’s likely that many sellers who post here are not entirely reputable. If you want to explore, though, here are some Facebook groups focusing on Amazon deals:

Screenshot of Amazon Deals & Free Giveaways group on Facebook
Amazon Deals & Free Giveaways is one of several Facebook groups that connects customers with free and discounted products.

4. Become a professional reviewer

If you’re a prolific reviewer, or enjoy sharing your opinions about products with the world, you can take the route of many other social media influencers and become a pro reviewer, sharing your opinion on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok.

There are already many reputable, informative reviewers online, and as your reputation (and follower count) rises, sellers may offer you free products in exchange for reviews on social media.

This route is by no means guaranteed; you’ll need a strong social media presence, the time to invest in your channel, and the patience to work for free until you start to get the attention of sellers. As an added bonus, you can earn a small commission on any products bought through your social media channel using Amazon’s affiliate sales program.

5. Find products that are free to anyone

In addition to the various review and giveaway programs, there’s a more conventional route to getting free stuff on Amazon: The retailer’s own freebies, given away to everyone as a way to encourage you to become a loyal customer.

  • Kindle books. Amazon makes thousands of Kindle books available for free to everyone. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can download one free Kindle book per month in the Amazon First Reads program. But even if you’re not a Prime member, just go to the Kindle store, search for “free,” and then use the genre browsing tools on the left side of the page to sort for free books you might like.
  • Free Audible audiobooks. While Audible is a subscription program that costs $15 per month, you can sign up for a 30-day trial that gives you access to everything for free, along with a credit for a title you can keep forever, even after the trial is over.
  • Free music. If you’re a Prime subscriber, you get access to Amazon Prime Music, which includes 2 million tracks. But even if you’re not a Prime member, you can download and listen to thousands of free songs at Amazon Music.
  • Free cloud storage. Every Amazon customer gets 5GB of free cloud storage via Amazon Drive, where you can keep photos, videos, and any other sort of file.
  • Amazon Prime free trial. Amazon Prime isn’t inexpensive – it’s currently $119 per year, with somewhat discounted versions for students and other groups. But if you haven’t had a subscription in over a year, you can get 30 days for free. That includes all the Prime benefits, including free shipping and access to Prime Reading, Music, Video, Amazon Photos, and more.
Screenshot of free titles on Amazon Kindle store
A lot of Kindle titles are available for free.

6. Try third-party review sites

Like Facebook groups that connect Amazon customers with freebies and deals (discussed earlier in this article), there are a handful of third-party websites dedicated to helping you find free Amazon products.

Most rely on the same general principle – sending you products in exchange for writing Amazon reviews. And just like the Facebook groups, we recommend trying these with caution, as some Amazon sellers may unscrupulously want to trade products for exclusively positive reviews. But if you want to explore this world, here are some popular options:

  • AmZDiscover connects Amazon sellers and customers who regularly review products. If you’re interested in becoming a reviewer, you can apply by filling out a form. Then, if you’re selected, expect to receive products in exchange for writing reviews.
  • Cashbackbase offers both highly discounted and free products. Unlike other sites, there’s no requirement to review the products acquired through Cashbackbase.
  • Tomoson is a clearinghouse for social media influencers. After registering with Tomoson, Amazon sellers can choose to send you free products for review and promotion. You’ll need a relatively strong social media presence to successfully get products through Tomoson.

What is Amazon Prime? The benefits of Amazon’s popular membership program, and whether it’s worth the costHow to cancel your Amazon Prime subscription if you no longer need the serviceHow to cancel an Amazon order or item, before it’s been shippedWhat is Amazon Locker? How to use the free and convenient delivery pick-up system

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Why is my Alexa blinking yellow? What each colored light means on your device

Amazon Alexa
When the ring at the top of your Alexa device flashes different colors, it means different things.

  • If your Alexa is blinking yellow, it means you have an unread message.
  • If your Alexa is flashing green, it means you have an incoming call.
  • Other colors (like blue, purple, orange, and red) indicate other things, from Wi-Fi connection issues to processing a request.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Alexa-enabled devices, like the Echo and Echo Dot, will light up in different colors as you interact with them, indicating things like new messages and incoming calls.

If you’re curious about what the different colored lights mean, or want to turn off notifications for calls and messages, here’s what you need to know.

Why is my Alexa blinking yellow?

A blinking yellow light indicates that you have unread messages in your inbox. This may be a message in your Amazon inbox, perhaps from a seller with an update on your order or a notification from Amazon letting you know that your package has been delivered.

How to resolve Alexa’s blinking yellow light

To get your Echo or other Alexa-enabled device to stop flashing yellow, ask Alexa to read your message.

If it’s a delivery notification, Alexa will simply tell you that an order has been delivered. If it’s a message received in your inbox, Alexa will read you the message.

Screenshot of Amazon inbox unread messages
Your messages on Amazon.

Since you can use your Alexa app to send and receive text messages, you can also access those using your Echo or other Alexa-enabled app.

How to disable Alexa’s blinking yellow feature

1. Open the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android.

2. Tap the three-line icon in the top-left corner.

3. Tap Settings.

4. Tap Device Settings.

Screenshot of Alexa app Settings page
Select “Device Settings.”

5. Tap your device and then tap Communications.

Screenshot of Device Settings page on Alexa app
Tap “Communications.”

6. Tap the toggle next to Communications so it turns gray.

Screenshot of Communications page on Alexa app
Tap the toggle.

Why is my Alexa flashing green?

A flashing green light indicates that you have an incoming call. If you pick up the call, the green light will spin.

How to resolve Alexa’s flashing green light

To stop the flashing green light, pick up the call (by saying “answer call”), decline the call (by saying “decline call”), or simply ignore the call until it stops ringing.

How to disable Alexa’s flashing green feature

1. Open the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android.

2. Tap the three-line icon in the top-left corner.

Screenshot of three-line icon on Alexa app
Tap the three lines to open a menu.

3. Tap Settings.

Screenshot of three-line icon menu on Alexa app
Select “Settings.”

4. Tap Device Settings.

5. Tap your device and then tap Communications.

6. Tap the toggle next to Communications so it turns gray.

What other Alexa colored lights mean

There are other colored lights that indicate different things on Alexa:

  • Blue: When you wake Alexa (solid blue), when Alexa is processing your request (solid blue with spinning cyan), or when Alexa is responding to a command or question (alternating blue and cyan)
  • Purple: Problem connecting to Wi-Fi (blinking purple), activating Do Not Disturb (spinning blue light with purple flash), or interacting with Alexa when Do Not Disturb is on (purple flash)
  • Orange: Your device is connecting to your Wi-Fi network (spinning orange)
  • Red: Microphone is off (solid red)

How to set up and use the Alexa app on your iPhoneHow to connect your Amazon Echo to Wi-Fi to get the most out of your Alexa-enabled smart speakerHow to set up any Amazon Echo device and customize its settingsA comprehensive list of Alexa voice commands you can use with your smart devices

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Amazon is reportedly shopping for used cargo jets that can fly from China, an effort that would help the company side-step major port delays

Amazon Prime Air plane parked at Kentucky hub
  • Amazon wants to buy used long-range cargo planes that could haul goods from Asia to the US, Bloomberg reports.
  • Sources close to the issue told Bloomberg the retailer wants to buy over 10 of Boeing and Airbus’s largest converted passenger jets.
  • Amazon is one of many major retailers looking to avoid weeks of delays at Southern California ports.

Amazon is looking to buy used cargo planes that would be able to travel long distances, according to a report from Bloomberg on Wednesday.

The company is shopping for 10 refurbished Airbus’s A330-300 aircraft and an unspecified number of used Boeing 777-300ER cargo planes, sources familiar with the issue told the publication. The company is also looking to fill crew positions for the planes. The planes represent some of the largest cargo versions of twin-engine passenger jets in the world, Bloomberg points out.

The move would be a major step in allowing the e-commerce giant to move goods from Asia to the US on its own and it would help the company avoid supply-chain bottlenecks at key US ports. The aircraft would be able to fly goods directly from China to the US, within a few hours’ drive of their final destinations – evading port delays that could tack on over a month to the goods’ delivery date, as well as backlogs at warehouses and railroads.

It is unclear whether Amazon will buy or lease the long-range cargo planes. It is also unknown where the planes will be bought or when they plan to begin using the cargo planes. But, it could be a major step to simplifying supply-chain issues for the retailer and could help them avoid future hurdles. Experts predict supply-chain bottlenecks will continue well into 2023.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately comment on the report.

In January, Amazon expanded its transportation fleet by purchasing 11 Boeing 767 airliners to use as cargo planes. Amazon plans to use a refurbished version of Boeing’s 777 plane next year, Bloomberg reported. The passenger plane-turned-cargo plane will hold about 25% more goods than existing air freighters, the publication said.

Amazon employees load cargo onto Amazon Air plane at new cargo hub

If the converted jets are obtained, Amazon will be one of many major retailers to take extra precautions to side-step supply-chain constraints. Earlier this month, Coca-Cola announced it was chartering bulk-shipping vessels that are usually reserved for hauling raw materials like coal, iron, and grain. The month before, Target and Costco also revealed that they had begun chartering container ships in an effort to side-step the shipping delays.

Other companies, including Home Depot, Lululemon, and Peloton, have begun relying more heavily on air freight as well. Though, air shipments are significantly more expensive than transporting goods by sea. A $195 ocean shipment can cost $1,000 by air, according to Freightos. Companies’ movements toward air cargo can also cause backups at airports.

Amazon Air was first launched over five years ago. Since, it has grown to encompass about 75 planes which operate primarily in North America and Europe. Amazon’s further expansion into air freight will also help it compete with the UPS and FedEx.

Read Bloomberg’s full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tarot cards don’t have to predict the future to be fun – I use mine as daily journal prompts and they’ve helped me self-reflect

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tarot card journal showing nine of pentacles and diary reflection
The classic Rider Waite tarot deck I bought fo Halloween is a great journaling tool.

  • I bought a tarot card deck for a Halloween party and it’s now one of my favorite journaling tools.
  • I’m not into the mysticism of it all or an occult believer, but tarot helps me with self-reflection.
  • Pulling a card each day helps me think deeper about what’s happening in my life.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyOriginal Tarot Cards Deck (small)

I am very much a non-believer when it comes to the occult and predicting the future, so I’ve always shied away from things like crystals, tarot, and astrology; mostly because I just didn’t understand them very well. Imagine my surprise when a deck of tarot cards for a Halloween party turned into one of my favorite journaling tools.

Since purchasing my Rider-Waite tarot deck, I’ve learned a lot more about tarot. Here’s what I learned and why I think it can be a great purchase for journaling and self-reflection.

What are tarot cards?

tarot cards all laid out with The Fool showing

Quite simply, tarot cards are playing cards. Traditionally, they were used for playing card games (and still are in many parts of the world).

Sometime around the 18th century, they gained popularity as a divination tool. The most common decks used for tarot today are 78 cards, consisting of 22 “Major Arcana” cards (the ones you probably most closely associate with tarot, like “The Fool”) and 56 “Minor Arcana” cards that are divided into four suits: Wands, cups, pentacles, and swords.

The imagery most famously associated with tarot cards comes from the classic Rider-Waite deck, which was illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith in the early 20th century.

Major Arcana cards

The Major Arcana cards tell the story of The Fool (the first card of the deck, and the only unnumbered card). Each subsequent Major Arcana card represents a meeting or challenge for The Fool. When used for tarot readings, these represent more significant revelations.

Minor Arcana cards

The Minor Arcana cards are quite similar to your standard deck of cards, but with different suits and imagery. Instead of the five of spades, for example, you may encounter the five of wands. These cards represent minor revelations in tarot readings.

How to use tarot cards for journaling

notebook with deck of tarot cards nearby

There are lots of different ways to use tarot cards for readings or journaling. You can try different shuffling styles or changing up the number of cards pulled and interpreted. If you’re just starting out, I recommend keeping it simple and start with pulling one card to reflect on. Here’s my process:

1. Think of a “query” or something you want to reflect on. This can be about a relationship, your career, your health, a current challenge, or just what the day has in store for you.

2. Keeping this query in mind, shuffle the deck and cut the cards.

3. Pull one card and keep it in the orientation it was pulled (cards can either be upside down or right-side up).

4. Reflect and journal on the meaning of the card in relation to your query (or anything else that comes to mind).

There are lots of ways to interpret the meaning of a card. You can simply look at the imagery and come up with your own meaning, or you can use a book or website to help you interpret traditional meanings. The tarot deck I bought came with a small booklet for interpreting cards that I’ve found useful.

My experience using tarot cards for journaling

hand holding three tarot cards

For me, the cards really act as prompts for journaling. I often get into the habit of only journaling when something is going massively wrong. The cards help me inventory other, less pressing aspects of my life and how they’re impacting my overall well-being.

For example, I recently pulled a card pertaining to money when it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but the more I reflected on it, the more I realized I felt some low-level stress about bills after a recent vacation. It’s probably not something I would have normally taken the time to journal about or reflect on, but the prompt from the card helped me release some of those thoughts and feelings tucked away in my subconscious.

I also just like to have fun with it: Sometimes I pull cards for other people in my life, and other times I pull cards for my cat. It tickles me to think my cotton ball of a cat is “working through technical problems” or “overcoming treachery” as foretold in two of my recent readings for her.

I used to think tarot was something that was very serious and rigid, but actively using my deck has taught me that it’s really an open-ended tool that can be serious or silly.

The best tarot card deck for beginners

a hand holding a tarot guidebook

If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend this deck from Amazon. The cards are thick and sturdy, feature classic Rider-Waite imagery, and come with a little guidebook for interpreting results. At just under $20, it’s a pretty cheap entry to the world of tarot and tarot journaling.

For best results, I recommend pairing it with a new notebook. I used a standard Moleskine notebook, but you can also buy specialized tarot journals if you need more guidance.

Original Tarot Cards Deck (button)

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Jeff Bezos chauffeured William Shatner and the rest of the Blue Origin flight crew to the site of Wednesday’s rocket launch

blue origin crew william shatner jeff bezos
Blue Origin founder and ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Jeff Bezos drove William Shatner and the rest of the crew to the Blue Origin launch site for Wednesday’s spaceflight.
  • Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek,” can be seen in the backseat.
  • The flight is Bezos’s spaceflight company’s second with passengers.

Actor William Shatner and the rest of the Blue Origin flight crew had a special driver to the site of Wednesday’s rocket launch.

Blue Origin founder and ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos drove the crew in an electric pickup truck from Rivian, an Amazon-backed company, with Bezos decked out in his own spacesuit. Shatner, who played the beloved Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek,” is seen sitting in the middle of the backseat.

blue origin flight william shatner

The actor is joined by former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, healthcare entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers. Wednesday’s flight is Blue Origin’s second with passengers – Bezos flew with three others in July.

Bezos has more free time on his hands these days after stepping down as CEO, a role that Amazon veteran Andy Jassy stepped into.

Bezos said he would devote more time to his space exploration company when he retired as CEO. He launched Blue Origin in 2000 and has said the company is his most important work, more so than Amazon. The goal, according to Bezos, is to democratize space travel and make it more accessible through reusable launch systems.

“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring,” Bezos said. “I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”

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The most important Alexa voice commands you can use with your Amazon Echo

An Amazon Echo sitting on a table, with a man looking at it
You need to know Alexa’s commands to use it.

  • You can use Alexa commands to play music, check the weather, order food, and even turn on your lights.
  • Before giving a command, you need to say the “wake word” – by default, it’s just “Alexa.”
  • Alexa has dozens of different commands, but some are only available on certain devices.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

While it might just look like a chunk of plastic, the Amazon Echo – and the Alexa assistant inside of it – can be pretty useful. But to get the most value out of your Echo, you need to know how to talk to Alexa.

If you’re new to Alexa or just want a primer on what the digital assistant can do, here’s a roundup of the most common and useful commands.

The essential Alexa commands

Before you can use any of these commands, you need to wake Alexa with the “wake word.” By default the word is just “Alexa” – so if you want to turn up the volume for example, you’ll say “Alexa, volume up.”

You can change the wake word using the Alexa app on your smartphone.

Volume and pausing

Alexa, stop: This stops whatever activity Alexa’s performing.

Alexa, pause/continue: Some activities, like playing music, can be paused and resumed later.

Alexa, mute/unmute: This mutes or unmutes whatever audio Alexa is playing.

Alexa, louder/softer; set the volume to six; turn down the volume: You can change your Amazon Echo’s volume in a variety of ways.

An Amazon Echo in a kitchen, sitting next to fruit and spoons.
Alexa commands can be useful in the kitchen.

Timers and alarms

Alexa, set a one-hour timer: Creates a simple timer. You can set it for any amount of time.

Alexa, cancel the one-hour timer: Cancels the timer before it’s complete.

Alexa, set a 10-minute timer and name it “eggs”: Useful for situations like cooking in the kitchen, when you might need several timers at once – naming them makes it easy to tell them apart.

Alexa, how much time is left: Alexa will report how much time is left on each timer that’s currently running. You can also check on a specific timer by saying something like “Alexa, how much time is left on the ‘eggs’ timer?”

Alexa, set an alarm for 8 a.m.: You can quickly set an alarm. If you don’t specify a.m. or p.m., Alexa will ask you to clarify.

Alexa, wake me every day at 6 a.m. to music: This sets up a recurring alarm clock with a random selection of music.

Alexa, stop: Once a timer or alarm goes off, say this to stop it.

General questions

Alexa, how do you spell [word]?: Ask Alexa to spell a word for you.

Alexa, how do you boil an egg?: Alexa can answer all sorts of general interest, cooking, and trivia questions for you.

Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup: You can convert quantities between any two sets of units – feet to meters, pounds to kilograms, and so on. You can also ask for specific conversions, like “How many grams are in 10 ounces?”

Alexa, what’s 15% of 400?: You can ask for help with common math problems.

Alexa, roll an eight-sided die: You can use Alexa as a replacement for dice or just to generate a random number. You can ask for any sided die, including ones that couldn’t possibly exist (Alexa, roll a 10,000-sided die.”)

Alexa, flip a coin: Gets heads or tails.

An Amazon Echo Dot sitting on a table
The Amazon Echo can answer most basic questions.

News and weather

Alexa, play the Flash Briefing: This plays a curated news summary you can customize in the Alexa app’s settings.

Alexa, play the news: If you specify a news source in Alexa’s settings, you can hear a longer-form news report.

Alexa, what’s the weather?: Hear a weather report. You can also ask for the weather at a specific time, like “this weekend,” or for a certain location.

Alexa, what’s the traffic/what’s my commute?: Get traffic information between the home and work locations you’ve specified in the Alexa app.

Playing media

Alexa, play some music: Alexa starts streaming music from the default music source specified in the Alexa app.

Alexa, play/pause/restart/skip: You can control your music playback by asking Alexa almost any media control command.

Alexa, play [artist name/album title]: You can ask Alexa to play a specific artist or say “play the album [album name] to hear that specific record. You can also specify which device to play it on, like “Alexa, play The Beatles in the kitchen.”

Alexa, play [selection] on [music service]: The combinations are almost limitless. You can ask Alexa to play an artist on Spotify, a playlist on Pandora, a radio station on TuneIn, or an audiobook or podcast on Audible, for example.

Alexa, what song is playing?: You can find out the name of a song if you’re currently playing a track via Amazon Music.

Shopping and purchases

Alexa, track my order/where’s my stuff: Find out the status of any open Amazon orders.

Alexa, add olive oil to my cart: You can add items to your Amazon shopping cart. Alexa may ask for more details to choose a specific product.

Alexa, what are your deals?: Ask for today’s list of top Amazon deals.

Alexa, buy this song/buy this album: If you’re listening to Amazon Music, you can instantly buy the music you’re listening to.

Echo Show commands

Only Amazon Echo Show owners can use these commands.

An Amazon Echo Show, displaying the weather.
The Echo Show has a screen, which introduces a whole host of new commands.

Alexa, show me my calendar: Displays your meetings and appointments in whatever calendar you’ve connected to the Alexa app.

Alexa, show me my photos: Displays photos from your personal photo library.

Alexa, show me pictures of dogs: You can ask Alexa to find photos of any subject and it will fetch them from the web.

Alexa, show me a recipe for apple cobbler: Alexa can find and display recipes from the web.

Alexa, show me cat videos on YouTube: You can’t ask Alexa to find a specific video, but you can ask Alexa to search for videos by topic or subject.

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