I’ve become a master negotiator for my business –┬áhere’s the exact script I use when I get a low-ball offer from a potential client

talking on phone with laptop
Explaining to potential clients that your rates and prices are set will set healthy boundaries.

  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • After six years of running her business, Glantz says she’s learned how to respond to low-ball offers from potential clients.
  • Thank the client for their interest, and reiterate that your prices are carefully calculated and reflect your value.

I’ve been a solopreneur for over six years as the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and my own personal brand. One of the most uncomfortable parts of running my own businesses, where I’m often the service that people hire (for weddings, speaking engagements, coaching, and consulting), is that not only am I the talent, but I’m also the one negotiating the price.

jen glantz
Author Jen Glantz.

Money conversations are awkward, but they’re a huge part of doing business. At first, I entertained offers that were below my set price for a service because I didn’t want to lose out on opportunities. I often said yes when someone said they didn’t have a budget to pay me what I asked for. I also didn’t have the confidence to provide reasons why my services were valuable, unique, and worth every penny.

Today, I’ve become my own lead negotiator. I’m not afraid to turn down an offer, and if a potential client wants to pay me less than I’m worth, I reply with a well-thought out response that often has them reconsider and say yes to my initial price.

If you sell and close deals on behalf of your business or are a freelancer, here are some scripts to follow to ask for more money when low-ball offers come your way.

When they ask you to work for free

One request that truly makes my blood boil is the request to work for free. If I’ve already done a consultation call and sent over a proposal, and the client then shares that they don’t have a budget for this and asks me to work for free, here’s how I reply.

“Thank you for your interest in working with [name of my company]. At this time, we’re not taking on any unpaid work. However, here’s where you can check out a resource that shares client testimonials and the immense value that comes from working with us. We hope to work with you in the future and if now isn’t the right time, feel free to keep us in mind for the future.”

Recently, I shared this exact script twice. One potential client was able to find $2,000 in their budget to pay for my services. The other potential client wrote back saying that they’d be in touch if they could afford it – I never heard back from them.

When they want you to accept a lower rate

I often find myself reading emails from potential clients who ask me to negotiate my set rate to a lower price. When that happens, I usually reply with the script below.

“Thank you for your reply and for reviewing my proposal. We’ve carefully constructed all of our pricing to reflect our value, experience, and unique set of offerings. This is the best price we can do for the scope of work we are offering. If you’d like to revisit the proposal, we can find ways to adjust the services to meet the price you’re suggesting.”

This response allows you to save time and weed out potential clients who aren’t willing to pay you what you deserve.

When they agree to your rate but want more services included

Occasionally potential clients will agree to a set rate but ask that a handful of additional services be included for free. When that happens, here’s how I respond.

“Thank you for your reply and for reviewing my proposal. This is our set rate for the scope of work we’re offering and we’re happy to construct a new proposal with updated pricing that reflects those additional services and their set costs.”

This reply shows your boundaries as a business owner or freelancer, and allows the potential client to see that from the start.

Stay firm on your pricing and be willing to let clients walk away if they don’t want to pay what you’re asking for. Succeeding in business is knowing your value and getting paid in a consistent way that reflects that.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I design the shapes of chicken nuggets – among other food products. Here’s what my career is like.

man in a white coat and hairnet
Mark Tolbert.

  • Mark Tolbert, 47, is a food scientist at Perdue helping design new products.
  • He oversees the company’s innovation facility and projects and his team of 10.
  • This is his career story and what his job is like, as told to freelancer Perri Ormont Blumberg.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Mark Tolbert, a 47-year-old senior innovation center facilities manager at Perdue Foods from Salisbury, Maryland, about his job. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I grew up in southwestern Virginia on a beef cattle farm. Working on the farm was a daily job, and I found that I’m naturally pretty mechanically inclined, whether repairing things or troubleshooting problems.

Before and during college, I worked at a veterinarian clinic, a dairy farm, a grocery store, and even as a manager of a slaughter operation. I attended Virginia Tech for college, where I double-majored in animal science and food science.

I took classes in meat science, which is how I got my first job out of college in the early ’90s managing a pilot plant at Central Soya, a soy processing company that incorporated soy into meat products. After three years, I went back to school for a master’s degree in meat science.

From there, I started working for Campbell Soup Company, with leading roles across various brands including Chunky Soup and SpaghettiO’s. In the last two years at Campbell’s, I ran quality control for those brands, which was a very hands-on role. I also managed a team within the ingredients group at Campbell’s. We worked on one project where we had over 700 ingredients and had to reduce the ingredients by 40%. In 2015, I started working at Perdue Farms.

I’m accountable for everything within the boundaries of the 5.14-acre property

The Perdue innovation center
The Perdue innovation center.

I’m even responsible for a few things outside it, like the railroad tracks everyone crosses on the way to our facility. I’m responsible for every blade of grass, all the lightbulbs, and everything in between.

Upon accepting the role, I knew I would quickly expand it into something much bigger, as my curiosity wouldn’t allow me to settle into the more narrow job description for long. I manage research and development (R&D) projects like developing turkey- and drumstick-shaped nuggets in line with Thanksgiving. Our nuggets run through equipment I’m very familiar with, so I helped develop the mold plates that contain the shape of the nugget.

I also was involved with the development of a blend of Perdue chicken with vegetables. My previous experience at Campbell’s was essential since I had extensive experience working with frozen vegetables, something people generally are not as familiar with at a meat company.

During my first hour on the premises, I walk through the facility, saying hello to each of my 10 team members

I start to gauge the morale of the group and figure out what might have to be done that day. On my own time, I’ll sometimes reread books like “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni and “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald T. Phillips to refresh my memory on being a leader. I focus on everyone being a team player, which includes being humble and hardworking.

I’ll then check out the plant trials board, which lets me know what we need to work on. Typically, we average about two trials per day, and it can get quite busy managing that. Sometimes we might run a special new experimental product, and those days are always extra exciting.

There are always “tastings” or what we refer to as “product cuttings” in the days following our trials. Usually this will involve the R&D technologist leading the project along with representatives from sensory, sales, and marketing. Some product cuttings focus on flavor whereas others will look at technical data like shape, weight, breading adhesion, etc. New shapes often require two to three iterations to get them to perform as expected.

After that, I spend a little time seeing if anyone or any project needs extra attention. From there, I’m off to my projects.

I love the daily ‘strangeness.’ There really is something different every day, and I enjoy those challenges that give way to problem-solving.

a chicken nugget cookie cutter
A nugget plate.

I even keep a count in my head as the day goes on of the ratio of challenges versus solutions. I aim to keep it at 1:1, but some days it might be more like 5:1.

In the same week at work, I can make breaded chicken nuggets (in any shape I choose to design) as well as pet treats, hot dogs, turkey, deli ham – the list goes on. In my previous roles and now here at Perdue, you’ll find very few, if any, poultry and meat products in a grocery store that I haven’t made.

Perdue Farms turned 100 in 2020. We were going to break a Guinness record for the largest serving of smoked chicken. The goal was going to be over 9,000 pounds. I had specified all the equipment, purchased an oven, and aligned donations of utilities and tractor trailers. Unfortunately, our plans were sidelined by COVID-19, but maybe we’ll try again soon.

Do you have an interesting job and want to share your story with Insider? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m a dancing card dealer at a Vegas casino. I love my job –┬áhere’s what it’s like.

Victoria Silva dancing dealer
Victoria Silva.

  • Victoria Silva, 27, works as a dancing dealer at Circa Resort & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.
  • She rotates between dealing cards at roulette and blackjack tables and dancing on a platform on the casino floor.
  • This is what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Molly O’Brien.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I’ve been working as a “dancing dealer” in Las Vegas for almost four years now. A dancing dealer is a [table games] dealer who also dances. We take shifts dealing, and then we dance in front of the people in the casino. It’s our job to make sure people are having fun – whether they’re winning or losing – so that they have a great experience and want to come back.

I currently work the night shift at Circa Resort & Casino in downtown Las Vegas. I deal blackjack and roulette. I enjoy working the night shift because it means I get to spend the daytime with my two daughters, who are four and six.

I officially get off work at 3 a.m., and get home and go to bed around 4:30 a.m.

Victoria Silva
Silva dealing at a roulette table.

My wakeup time ranges from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. depending on the kids’ activities. It can be hard coming home late and then having to get up early, but it’s worth it.

I normally get Sunday and Monday off, and I’ll spend time with my kids as much as I can. Sometimes I’ll have a date night with my husband, but most of the time when I’m off I’m just at home, relaxing.

Dancing dealers have the same official dealer certification and skills as any other regular dealer.

Before this job, I worked in retail, specifically at Hollister, for quite some time. I didn’t grow up being a dancer, but my sisters and I used to make up dances as kids. I was also a cheerleader in school, which helped build my confidence.

As a dancing dealer, we don’t actually have routines, we just freestyle. To be in this position, I don’t think you need to be the best dancer in the world, but you need to be a good dancer.

Victoria Silva.
Silva on top of the dancing podium.

I feel like since we’re also dancers, people sometimes don’t take us as seriously as a regular dealer – but we’re just as qualified as any other dealer in town.

In order to get certified, I had to complete a two week training and pass an audition test. We had a trainer who taught us all the steps of dealing and then we each took an in-person test with a few other people. Once we passed we were set to work in the casinos.

I love my coworkers. We’re like one big family and we look out for each other.

One of the best parts of my job is that I make a lot of friends. We’re like a big family, the 60 of us girls who are dancing dealers. Another thing I love about my job is interacting with people and hearing their funny stories.

The hours can definitely be a challenge, but I think the only real downside is that not everyone who comes in is always nice. The majority of people are nice – but sometimes you get those tough people.

I never know how much money I actually deal out in a night, because it always varies. Weekends I deal out much more. The players can put down as much as they want at a table – but every table does have a max bet depending on where you are in the casino, which is why there are specific high limit betting areas. Most people bet around $100 a game, or maybe a little more – but we do have people who play in the $1,000s.

Overall, I definitely notice a difference in energy and clientele on weekdays versus weekends. Weekends are high energy and super busy, and weekdays are steady – but not as crazy.

Building relationships with regular customers is fun.

Victoria Silva dealing blackjack
Silva dealing at a blackjack table.

Since our casino is downtown, I think many of our customers are not as serious as on the strip because they’re gambling to have fun, not to make money or for sport.

I get return customers all the time who play with me because they like me. I have one player who comes every single night. I have another very sweet couple who are regulars, and when I deal roulette they come in and play the numbers “17” and “20” every time because those are their lucky numbers. They’ll bet the max amount and whenever they win, they tip big. The most I’ve ever seen anyone win at once is $50,000.

You have to have an always-positive attitude, but overall dealing is a fun job.

Normally we’ll do an hour dealing, then we dance for 20 minutes, then we get a break for 20 minutes. It doesn’t even feel like 20 minutes when you’re dancing on the mini elevated boxes we have around the casino. There’s always so much going on around me it makes the night go by faster.

I don’t have any signature dance moves – I just try not to fall off the box! We dance on top of boxes in the middle of the “pit” in the casino, so all the players can see us.

To thrive in this sort of position, you need to have great people skills. You can’t be shy because you’re dancing in front of a bunch of people and when you’re not dancing, you’re communicating with them as a dealer. You have to be positive and happy so that your players feel good.

To anyone who’s interested in becoming a dancing dealer, I’d tell them it’s not the easiest job, because dealing with a lot of people can be tiring. At the same time, it’s a really fun job because you’re meeting people from all over the world. I’d like to keep doing this as my job forever.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How 2 organizations are helping offices reduce waste by selling or donating their furniture

woman sitting in office chairs
Brandi Susewitz, founder of furniture resale marketplace Reseat.

  • Tons of office furniture ends up in landfills, and it’s getting worse as workplaces go remote.
  • Companies like Green Standards and Reseat sell, recycle, or donate the unwanted furniture instead.
  • Green Standards helps offices downsize sustainably, and Reseat is a used furniture marketplace.
  • This article is part of a series called “Partners for a Sustainable Future,” profiling innovative alliances that are driving real progress in sustainability.

Almost 10 million tons of furniture and furnishings end up in landfills each year, according to 2018 data from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Experts told Insider a large portion of that is office furniture and predict the problem will get worse as more companies rethink their workspaces post-pandemic.

Nearly 90% of executives plan to shift their office real-estate strategies in the next year as they go fully or partially remote, according to a recent PwC survey. This includes consolidating office space and opening smaller locations.

“It’s going to have an impact on the amount of furniture coming out of buildings because companies are making decisions that are going to change the layouts of their workplaces,” Trevor Langdon, president of Green Standards, told Insider.

Green Standards works with businesses across the globe to donate, resell, and recycle office furniture. Similar companies, like preowned office furniture marketplace Reseat, are helping companies buy and sell used furniture and keep it out of landfills. Here’s a look at how exactly they partner with outside organizations to reduce waste and promote sustainability.

Green Standards shows the impact of furniture resale and donations on the environment

Green Standards, which has worked with General Motors, United Airlines, and Expedia Group, uses an assessment to decide whether reselling or donating an office’s items is the best fit. It then facilitates donations by identifying nonprofits, such as schools or charities, that could use the items and handles the removal and delivery of the furniture.

office furniture packed up in piles
Green Standards removing office furniture from General Motors.

Social-media management company Hootsuite recently redesigned its workspaces in Vancouver, London, and Bucharest, replacing rows of desks and large conference tables with standing desks and comfortable, upholstered seating to offer work-from-home employees a place to collaborate. Instead of throwing away unused items, Hootsuite donated about 80% of the leftover furniture to community organizations through a partnership with Green Standards.

“We had an opportunity to have all this perfectly good office furniture that just didn’t meet our needs anymore go to somebody who could use it,” Carol Waldmann, Hootsuite’s director of global facilities and real estate, told Insider. “It just made sense to try to find a new home for it rather than throwing it in the trash.”

Though he wouldn’t provide exact figures, Langdon said the cost of Green Standards’ services is the same or less than hiring liquidators to remove furniture, most of which gets dumped in a landfill. He said his company has a 99% landfill diversion rate for the furniture they encounter and has arranged more than $32 million in donations.

a high school classroom
The donated General Motors furniture in Cody High School.

Green Standards also provides companies with a report that shows how much office furniture they diverted from a landfill and how it reduced their carbon footprint. For example, Waldmann said Hootsuite’s project equated to reducing gas consumption by 7,200 gallons and offset electricity use for nine homes for a year.

“I would love more organizations to look at how they can support communities that they’re in and just try to find ways to reduce their impact on the environment,” she said. “It’s a powerful tool for all of us to help reduce the impact of climate change as much as we can.”

Reseat turns ‘waste’ into profit for businesses

Brandi Susewitz founded Reseat (formerly Clear Office) last year to help companies buy and sell used office furniture. She’s worked in the office furniture industry for more than 20 years and saw the need for a solution to its waste problem.

Reseat has worked with organizations like Uber, Oracle, and GoDaddy, as well as with real-estate brokers, interior designers, architects, and company leaders to furnish a space with pre-owned items. Susewitz said the company is growing and will close its first year with about $3 million in revenue. Recently, it also added Reseat ID, a “second life-cycle passport” that will be issued with each purchase and include a company’s furniture drawings, specifications, layouts, fabrics, and quantities to help them later resell the items more efficiently.

Companies can handle the resale process – including uploading photos and delivering items – themselves and keep 70% of profits, or let Reseat handle everything for them and keep 10% of the sales.

Susewitz said the problem of office furniture waste is at its worst. She hopes her platform will make it easier for organizations to be proactive in reducing waste.

When designing its first office in San Francisco recently, Modern Treasury, a payment-operations software company, worked with Reseat to purchase about 100 sitting and standing desks, as well as sideboards, tables, and soft seating, Rachel Pike, Modern Treasury’s chief growth officer, told Insider. With recent supply-chain issues, she said pre-owned furniture can often be obtained more quickly.

“There’s just no reason to buy something new when you have exactly the same thing that’s perfect and ready to go,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m a Christmas-tree farmer. This year’s extreme heat hit hard, and it’ll likely impact your tree choices.

Dana and Matt Furrow in front of Christmas trees.
Dana and Matt Furrow.

  • Industry groups are warning of an impending Christmas-tree shortage due to extreme heat and droughts.
  • Dana Furrow and her husband, Matt Furrow, own a Christmas-tree farm in Oregon. The weather hit their crops hard.
  • They said it’ll likely impact your choice of live trees this year – whether they be smaller or of a different variety.
  • This is their story, as told to freelance writer Colleen Hagerty.

Dana Furrow and her husband, Matt Furrow, are the owners of Furrow Farm in Hillsboro, Oregon. After growing and selling Christmas trees for decades, they had an unprecedented loss of seedlings this season due to this year’s drought and heatwave.

This is her story, as told to freelance writer Colleen Hagerty. It has been edited for length and clarity.

My husband is a third-generation hazelnut farmer in Oregon. As a teenager, he went to work for a Christmas-tree grower and started planting his own tiny amount of trees once he learned the ropes.

He was 17 at the time, and together, he and I have been doing this for about 30 years.

Trees at Dana and Matt Furrow's farm.
Dana and Matt Furrow’s farm.

There’s a lot that goes into growing a Christmas tree: prepping the ground, fertilizing, raking, cultivating, and going through with your crew to put in the seedlings. Then, we have to make sure they’re in the ground right and standing up straight – if we don’t, that’s when you get the curved trunk.

We still have people who think a tree is planted one year, and then the next year, it’s ready to harvest. I don’t know where they get that idea from, but it takes much longer – six to 10 years for harvest size – so you’re spending a lot of time and money before you ever sell your product.

Plus, the trees require care year-round. It’s not just harvesting or planting them and letting them grow; you’ve got fertilizing and trimming, plus the planting time alone.

Our cut-your-own-tree (u-cut) area is 120 acres, which includes two hazelnut orchards and some pasture, and we also offer fresh-cut trees if people don’t want to cut down a tree. We plant probably 30,000 to 40,000 trees per year.

You do lose a certain percentage – I remember my husband saying you expect to lose about 20%. You always have that plus whatever your other risks are, like the weather.

In June, it reached 115 degrees

Spring was really good for the trees this year, and we actually had more trees for people to cut than we thought we would. But then June came around.

The drought and the high heat that month pretty much killed all of our seedlings in the valley. We also had a really promising amount of Noble Firs for people to cut this year, but the whole field was hit hard by the heat.

When you see mature Noble Firs starting to turn red, you’re like, “Oh, no.”

Damaged trees at Dana and Matt Furrow's farm.
Dana and Matt Furrow’s farm.

If you’ve ever seen diseased trees, heat damage kind of looks like that – or like if you had your tree in your house for a couple of months and then stuck it outside until June or July. The needles are falling apart.

Even if it’s just one branch or a quarter of a branch, when people are going out cutting a tree and they see that, they’re not going to cut that tree down, because they’re afraid that it’ll just dry up even faster. Plus, it just doesn’t look good. Christmas trees have to look green, not already dying.

I felt powerless. We’d been putting time and money into these trees for eight years, 10 years – and every year, you’re paying for labor and other growing costs, and then this tree isn’t sellable.

Trees at Dana and Matt Furrow's farm.
Dana and Matt Furrow’s farm.

Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of trees are that way, and you want to have enough trees to get through your season and make sure everyone gets a Christmas tree. You hate to let your customers down, and if you have to close your farm early, it’s like, “Where do the people go now?” because a lot of the farms around here saw a lot of damage.

We’ve never had to deal with this before

We think some of the trees that were damaged from heat will come back, but they might take a couple of years. We’ve never had to deal with this before, so we don’t know, but we’re hopeful that maybe they’ll be able to green up later on or they’ll grow and then we can cut the damaged parts off.

We’re also going to replant some fields we lost this year. The maybe 50 seedlings that made it – which is nothing compared to how many we planted – we took out of the ground, and we’re going to rework the ground.

A building on Dana and Matt Furrow's farm.
Dana and Matt Furrow’s farm.

Usually, we start planting around late winter or early spring, but we’re going to actually try planting this fall because we get more rain this time of year. We’ve been planting more Nordman Firs and Turkish Firs, which are more drought resistant, but they don’t like too much rain either. It’s basically one extreme or the other.

We’ve seen a shortage already

With the heat and Oregon being the number one producer of Christmas trees, I’m sure there will be shortages of Christmas trees out there. There have been for the past couple years across the United States.

In our area, there were a lot of farms that just kind of quit when the economy fell in 2008. So we’ve seen a shortage already, and we have way more people than we used to living around here. We were always open until December 24 every year, but the last couple years, we’ve ended up closing our cut-your-own-tree section halfway through the season.

But we’re not all gloom and doom. We have plenty of fresh-cut Nobles we can bring down. We’ve been getting some rain, which is good.

A lighted building on Dana and Matt Furrow's farm.
Dana and Matt Furrow’s farm.

Everything’s greening up. There are still trees to cut; people just might not be able to cut as many. I’ll probably put a sign out that explains the heat damage, in case people didn’t see it on the news.

We’re opening when we always do: the day after Thanksgiving. I hate telling people to get trees as early as they can because I don’t want to start a frenzy, and I’m sure there’s still going to be lots of trees available. Maybe you’ll have to get a smaller tree than you normally do, or maybe a different variety.

But a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and they all look beautiful, so hopefully people will think like that.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m a California dock worker facing record cargo-ship backlogs. It’ll be catastrophic if things get worse.

Container ships at the backlogged Port of Los Angeles in September 2021.
Container ships at the congested Port of Los Angeles in September 2021.

  • The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are experiencing record backlog as cargo ships wait to dock.
  • The ports handle nearly half of inbound containers for the US, making the backlog a huge issue.
  • A California longshoreman told Insider what it’s been like to work the ports. They chose to remain anonymous due to their job, but their identity has been verified by Insider.
  • This is their story, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.

A California longshoreman told Insider what it’s been like to work the California ports during record backlog. They chose to remain anonymous due to their job, but their identity has been verified by Insider. This is their story, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.

I’ve been working as a longshoreman at California’s San Pedro Bay Port Complex for close to 15 years, and the only thing I know for sure about the congestion here is that everyone is blaming someone else.

The shipping companies blame us for not covering skilled-labor jobs, but they’re the ones that approve training for those types of jobs. Then we turn around and blame COVID-19 for the influx of online orders. Consumers see the ships backed up and say we’re not unloading fast enough. Truckers complain about the lack of chassis at the port, which limits the number of containers that can be carried out of the yard. It’s a total blame game.

But the blame game has to start somewhere, and this time, it started with backlogs at the port.

port of la congestion ships
Container ships wait off the coast of the congested ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, in Long Beach, California, U.S., September 29, 2021.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach saw record backlog last month, with 65 cargo ships stuck off of the coast waiting to dock and unload. Combined, the ports are the largest complex in the Western Hemisphere and handle an estimated 40% of inbound containers for the US, making them some of busiest in the world. The recent backlog is just another example of a global supply chain in crisis.

Right now, every single part of the supply chain is backed up – from the overseas shippers to the U.S. receivers – and there are no signs of it dying down anytime soon.

We’re like the Costco of ports

As a major gateway for trans-Pacific trade, everything you can imagine comes through here.

Longshoreman – or dock workers, as we are often referred to – work in commercial ports and harbors, unloading and loading cargo to and from vessels through either manual labor and by operating heavy machinery. It can be a physically demanding job most of the time, and by the end of the shift, it’s pretty normal to feel like you did the most intense workout of your life – even with an hour lunch break and two 30-minute breaks.

I’m what is referred to as an Identified Casual, meaning I get the work left over from the Regulars, who are the permanent full-time workers in the Union.

Since the pandemic, congestion at ports like mine is at an all-time high. Ships idling and anchored offshore can be seen for miles as they sit waiting for their turn to dock and have their cargo unloaded.

According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, as of October 5, there were a total of 143 ships in port: 88 at anchor or drift areas and 55 at berths. The record at the time was 157 total ships, and that was set just last month.

About 20 container ships wait to be unloaded in the Ports of LA and Long Beach
About 20 containers wait to be unloaded in Southern California. Surfers are just hanging out.

Despite what it may look like, those crews aren’t exactly stranded out there in the water. There’s a ferry service that transports people back and forth from the docks, so they’re free to come on land and pick up food or supplies.

They can even go to Disneyland if they want. They might as well. There’s not much else for them to do. It’s a waiting game.

The craziest part is that despite all the logistical challenges and logjam, it’s not going to stop – and that’s because there’s still plenty of money to be made.

What we’re witnessing is a vicious cycle

Since the pandemic, more people have shopped online than ever before, increasing the number of shipments coming into our ports.

Retailers are encouraging consumers to shop early to ensure their gifts arrive in time for Christmas, causing a public frenzy and onslaught of online orders.

As long as manufacturers continue to pay warehouses to ship their products, it’s business as usual for them. The warehouses will then continue contracting with shipping companies to ship their containers out, and the ports won’t turn ships away because they make all their money in docking fees and unloading containers.

All of this has affected the delicate balance of the supply chain: Warehouses are bursting at the seams, shipping containers are in excess demand, chassis are running out, equipment is being run ragged, waterways and railways are overwhelmed, trucks and truckers are maxed out, and our yard and ports are overflowing as a result.

Container ships at the backlogged Port of Los Angeles in September 2021.
Container ships at the congested Port of Los Angeles in September 2021.

There’s also been a lot of talk about the port being closed on weekends, but it’s only closed to truckers on Saturdays and Sundays in an effort to manage traffic. The ports are open on weekends and we are here sorting, unloading, and loading cargo, but there’s not a lot of room in the yard because of the staggering amount of shipments we’re dealing with.

Those of us with our boots on the ground have zero say in what goes on around here. We just keep cranking away; we haven’t stopped.

Being a Casual means no two days are alike

As Casuals, we never know what our actual job is until we arrive for a shift and get assigned our tasks.

The work ranges from boring and repetitive, like driving a utility tractor rig around all day – known amongst the dock workers as the Shake and Bake, because the truck is shaky and has no air conditioning – to activities like lashing containers on the ships, which, while an extremely strenuous activity, makes the shift fly by. I’ll take that over monotonous work any day of the week.

The surge in cargo hasn’t affected our day-to-day as far as how we work, but there’s way more traffic in the yard now, and more containers are being stacked in places I’ve never seen them stacked before.

The last time I saw a backlog close to what we’re experiencing now was in 2015, when the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents all the shipping companies, were embroiled in lengthy contract negotiations, which resulted in work slowdowns and stoppages.

Some people assumed workers were striking, but the Pacific Maritime Association essentially choked us out by cutting our workload down. It was a soft lockout, and everyone was playing dirty.

Container ships at the backlogged Port of Los Angeles in October 2021.
Container ships at the congested Port of Los Angeles in October 2021.

Ships were backed up in the harbor while both entities struggled to work out their differences but it’s nothing compared to the number of ships out there now.

The agreement between International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association was set to expire in 2019, but both parties agreed to extend the expiration to July 1, 2022, so you’ve got to wonder how much of what’s going on here is a coincidence versus a matter of timing.

It would be catastrophic for the situation at the ports to get any worse – but it easily could

Before the backup, I worked four days a week, now I’m working between six and seven days a week.

In the past, there might have been 200 jobs available for Casuals during a shift. Now it’s often double or triple that amount. Whoever says people aren’t working because they’re sitting home on unemployment should come down here to the port to see for themselves.

The way I see it, we are all in this together. Every link in the supply chain needs to keep up their end of the bargain.

Instead of pointing fingers, we all need to lend a hand and get it done.

Read the original article on Business Insider

8 pandemic spending habits I plan to keep up forever

Melissa Petro with her youngest child.
Melissa Petro with her youngest child.

  • Melissa Petro is a freelance writer based in New York with her husband and two young children.
  • During the pandemic, she adopted new spending habits that have worked well for her family.
  • Petro says she now supports more local farmers, invests in quality kitchen equipment, and splurges on fresh flowers.

According to a recent report by Axios, America’s spending habits are reverting back to pre-pandemic ways. Not so in my household.

While I’ve always considered myself relatively frugal, I started spending money in what felt like “luxurious” ways once the pandemic hit. Blame cabin fever or existential dread; it was also a fact that – thanks to pandemic unemployment insurance – I had a little more disposable income.

Now, even though things in my community are relatively back to normal and pandemic unemployment benefits have come to an end, my spending habits remain the same. Because I realized that what felt like splurges were actually relatively modest purchases, and because of these products and services dramatically improved my life, the following pandemic spending habits just might be here to stay.

1. I stockpile cleaning supplies

While I’ve definitely never been one of those toilet-paper hoarders, at the start of the pandemic I did pick up a couple extra bottles of bleach spray, sanitizing wipes, and everything else we’d need if someone got sick. Eighteen months later, I’ve kept up the habit. I love never running out of dish detergent or laundry soap.

2. I support local farmers

When the grocery store in town shut down, I started patronizing a hyper-local delivery service called Two Birds Provisions. This past spring, I became a patron. This means that I get a cooler full of locally grown produce, butcher shop items, and other locally produced goods delivered weekly straight to my door. Everything is super fresh, I’m supporting a family-run business, and it all costs less than what I’d spend at the supermarket.

3. I have a flower subscription

Melissa Petro
Flowers from Parcel Flower Co.

When I signed up as Two Birds patron, I went buck wild and tacked on a weekly flower subscription. It feels like a total indulgence, but a bouquet of locally grown flowers and foliage delivered weekly from the Parcel Flower Co. costs less than a large deluxe pizza – and fresh flowers seriously brighten a home.

4. I regularly refresh my wardrobe

Melissa Petro
Dressing is fun even if you’re staying at home.

My kids get an entirely new wardrobe every six months; you’d think I’d splurge on at least one pair of matching socks! Not so until last fall, when I looked down at my COVID wardrobe and realized it was time to retire the bleach-stained sweatshirts, house dresses from when I was pregnant, and worn-out leggings with holes in the crotch. Now, every time I shop for my kids, I pick up some new gear for myself as well.

5. I’m amassing a collection of actual pajamas

Back in December 2020, the Washington Post declared that pajamas are having a moment. I couldn’t agree more. Instead of falling into bed every night in a t-shirt and sweats, last Spring I surrendered to my inner granny some time and began amassing a collection of cotton and flannel nightgowns similar to this amazing number (with pockets!).

6. I hire household help

As if a global pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, last July I was hit by a car while crossing the street. Miraculously, I was mostly okay. But a fractured wrist made completing housework nearly impossible, so we hired a housekeeper to take over most chores. Sure, it isn’t cheap, but in situations when you physically can’t do something, or when time is truly of the essence, it’s well worth the money to hire outside help. These days, we keep our housekeeper’s number on file in case of emergencies, and – just as soon as we were vaccinated – we put Biden’s child tax credit towards hiring the nanny of our dreams.

7. I’m investing in kitchen gear

Homemade cake with buttercream frosting thanks to my new KitchenAid mixer. Melissa Petro
Homemade cake with buttercream frosting thanks to my new KitchenAid mixer.

Months of eating in put my love of cooking to the test. It also tested my cookware. The past year or so, we bought at least one new pot, and invested in actual glassware (although I still prefer drinking out of an old jar). But my favorite culinary purchase so far? A KitchenAid mixer to indulge my inner Stepford wife. Brand-name stand mixers are notoriously pricey, but you can find one for half the price like I did if you shop secondhand.

8. Skin-care products galore

If it sounds like I started spending a lot of money on me, that’s only because I didn’t used to – ever. Now, thanks to the pandemic, caring for myself has become the norm. Take my skincare regimen, for example: infrequently washing my face has morphed into multi-step routine that includes a liquid exfoliant, Retinoid serum, and this Vitamin C serum recommended by the dermatologist that does my Botox – and oh, yeah, I started getting Botox, because you can’t hide your “elevens” behind a face mask.

We’re extremely fortunate that the pandemic has left us with more discretionary income instead of less, and I’m happy to spend it by supporting local businesses as well as treating myself. It shouldn’t take an existential threat to invest in new underwear or adequate childcare, but here we are.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I’m a pharmacy student working at Walgreens. Most people getting the COVID booster shot are excited, but our pharmacy is severely understaffed.

Walgreens pharmacy
“The line kept growing – some people were picking up their medications, others were asking for refills. The phone calls never ended,” said a pharmacist of her recent Sunday shift.

  • Jennalynn Fung, 19, is a pharmacy student who works at a Walgreens in New York City.
  • She says her location has been overwhelmed between giving out the COVID vaccines and flu shots and filling regular prescriptions.
  • Despite being on the front line, Fung says she rarely feels respected by patients or treated like a healthcare worker.

I started working at Walgreens during the spring semester of my first year in New York City. As a pharmacy student, I wanted to start working to develop my skills and understanding of medicine in a practical setting.

My first few months at a Walgreens in Queens were stressful to say the least – I was hired in March 2020, when the pandemic began to take over. New York quickly became the center of the epidemic, but having just been hired, I didn’t want to leave.

Jennalynn Fung, 19, is a pharmacy student in New York.
Jennalynn Fung, 19, is a pharmacy student in New York.

When the vaccines were approved for emergency use, our responsibilities doubled, but our staff size stayed the same.

During most shifts, we only had one pharmacist available, which often meant there were only one to two immunizers. At that point, we were just trying to keep up with workflow.

Eventually, I switched to a pharmacy in a different neighborhood, but it was also severely understaffed. We spent all day just trying to get everything done, with little leeway to provide attentive, patient-centered care like we normally would.

Now, most people are coming in for the Pfizer booster shot are eager to get it.

One patient, a woman born in the early 1940s, told me she remembered receiving the polio vaccine as a teenager. As a result, she’d never contracted the illness, and believed the COVID vaccine would give her the same protection. Another older man suffering from chronic heart disease said that for him, the third shot was necessary for his own peace of mind.

We’ve also had patients under 65 with health conditions come in for the third dose. One young high school teacher who was immunocompromised said the moment she heard the Pfizer booster shot was approved, she wanted it. Schools in New York City shut down in September due to outbreaks, so she felt she was at high risk of contracting the virus. Since the booster is voluntary right now, most people coming in for it have been relieved – and even excited – to get it.

The long hours and lack of available pharmacists mean we’re all working back to back shifts.

Jennalynn Fung
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine.

We’re giving vaccinations all day long as well as keeping up with the steady flow of prescriptions coming from local clinics and hospitals. Since flu shots are also walk-in, there are long lines of people waiting for different vaccinations. This is especially tough on a single immunizer who must keep track of who is getting what shot and what version (flu shots for babies, children and adults, and the elderly).

In spite of what we do, we’re rarely respected as healthcare workers.

Staff pharmacists have consistently come in at 6 a.m. and stayed until 9 p.m. throughout the pandemic. Had there been one more technician or pharmacist at each store, things might be different – we would be able to catch our own breath and think more deeply about the health of our patients.

Walgreens’ own treatment has made me feel like they didn’t value me as a pharmacy worker. Many days I dread coming into work – every work shift is exhausting, from the rude patients to the constant influx of prescriptions. I continue to wonder: Why am I studying for six long years to be a pharmacist if people are going to treat me with no respect?

With the booster shots, Walgreens hasn’t gotten any better – in many ways, it’s worse.

Just a month ago on a Sunday, we had a family of six walk in for their flu shots. There was already a line of six elderly and immunocompromised patients waiting for the COVID booster. The line kept growing – some people were picking up their medications, others were asking for refills. The phone calls never ended.

Worst of all was, it was just me and the staff pharmacist working that day. We didn’t close on time that night, but in order to keep to hourly budgets, my pharmacist told me I could leave and that she would stay behind. She spent another hour scanning in vaccine forms, filling more prescriptions, and cleaning.

Being understaffed puts patient safety at risk. There was a memo by “WAG Justice” circulating in Walgreens emails about a walkout – this was when pharmacists were doing up to 100 vaccinations by themselves in a day.

In pharmacy school, I’ve learned how crucial and indispensable a pharmacist’s drug knowledge is for public health. For that reason, I hope people continue to get vaccinated – and that treatment of pharmacists giving the vaccinations will improve.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Confessions of job hunters: 5 people open up about their frustrations, from getting ghosted by recruiters to sending out 300 resumes with no response

Bilal Waheed, Lauren Daly, and Donna Fields Brown are among the countless of Americans looking for work.
Bilal Waheed, Lauren Daly, and Donna Fields Brown are among the countless of Americans looking for work.

  • Despite reports of the ongoing labor shortage in the US, many job hunters are still struggling to find work.
  • Former RN Donna Fields Brown, 70, says she’s applied for jobs at Target and Safeway with no response.
  • Bilal Waheed, 29, has a masters degree but he’s sent out nearly 70 resumes without landing a single interview.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Despite reports that there are more available jobs in America than people to fill them, people all over the country say actually getting hired is a different story.

Applicants say they’re being ghosted by recruiters, having their resumes eliminated by applicant tracking systems (ATS), and struggling to find remote work opportunities. At the same time, unemployment benefits have been cut off.

From graduate students to those looking for post-retirement work, Insider spoke with five people who are currently unemployed to learn what it’s like job-hunting during one of the worst times in economic history.

Here’s what they had to say:

Lauren Daly, 30, Henderson, Nevada

Lauren Daly
Lauren Daly.

Due to a company restructure, I got laid off two weeks ago from my job as a sales rep in educational technology, and received two months severance.

The irony is in addition to that job, I teach an online course I created for a university focusing on career preparedness, covering everything from cover letters, resumes, interview tips, and how best to use LinkedIn to navigate the job search.

When I told my students I got laid off they asked, “How could you be out of work? You literally teach a class on getting jobs!” I resisted the impulse to say maybe I should create a class on how to keep jobs.

I assumed with my PhD and experience, I wouldn’t have a hard time breaking into the scrum master field I wanted to be in but right now, the market is insane. No one is ever really safe.

So far, five different recruiters have reached out claiming to have the ‘perfect fit’ for me, but I’ve been ghosted by all of them.

Bilal Waheed, 29, Astoria, New York

Bilal Waheed
Bilal Waheed.

I’ve spent my life following an imaginary checklist based on societal and family expectations, but now that I’ve checked the required boxes, I’m in limbo.

My parents are Pakistani immigrants who always stressed the importance of higher education. I earned my Bachelor’s, worked for four years, then went to grad school for a Masters in applied statistics.

But since graduating in May and sending out nearly 70 applications for data science and analysis positions, I haven’t had a single interview and feel lost in a sea of other applicants. Dealing with so much rejection has been tough.

My savings ran out so I just applied for unemployment. I have $120,000 in student debt, so that’s another battle to face.

I wish I’d been better prepared to build up a network and leverage social capital like some of my classmates had been doing.

My dream is to work in data science for Spotify, but right now I don’t need to strive for the big-name jobs. I’m not ashamed to work my way up.

Donna Fields Brown, 70, Pearce, Arizona

Donna Fields Brown.
Donna Fields Brown.

I’m a retired RN looking for part-time work to supplement my social security income (SSI).

Working for over 30 years, I never truly found my niche and did a lot of job-hopping, but jobs were also plentiful back then.

In 2017, my husband and I retired, sold our house, and traveled across the country for two years in our 23-foot long travel trailer. We quickly discovered life on the road was more expensive than we thought.

When the pandemic hit, I took a part-time position as a Walmart cashier to supplement my SSI, but left after a month. Since then, I’ve applied for several jobs at Target, Safeway, and a nearby national park but I haven’t gotten any responses.

I don’t know what’s more daunting, filling out applications online or trying to find work in my ‘Golden Years.’ I’d have to say that both feel like full-time jobs.

Amanda Dexter, 35, Wathena, Kansas

Amanda Dexter
Amanda Dexter.

I was an English teacher for seven years but left the field in April after experiencing complete burnout. I was offered a teaching contract this year but turned it down for the sake of my mental health.

I started applying for work two months prior to quitting my teaching job. I’d heard all these reports about how many jobs were opening up, so I thought I’d have no trouble finding one pretty quickly.

But it’s now seven months later and I’ve had no luck when it comes to jobs outside of classroom teaching. It seems like I can’t ever get my foot past the front door.

Personally, I think my resume is getting weeded out by applicant tracking systems before it can even be seen by a human. ATS software only scans for relevant keywords and job titles. When the system reviews my resume, all they see is ‘teaching’ and ‘education,’ not all of the transferable skills that an actual human would recognize as part of my work experience.

For example, I’m an experienced content writer and have applied to a variety of content writing jobs, but on the surface to an ATS, it looks like I have no applicable experience. A human would understand that an English teacher would be a strong writer or at least have some of the skills and potential for the job. Even applying to something like secretarial work seems hopeless because my resume doesn’t include the types of keywords an ATS is scanning for.

I’ve tried LinkedIn Premium and even got a $29.99 a month subscription for a career coaching company called Work It Daily. I followed their resume templates which focus on getting past the ATS and being easily navigable for recruiters and HR staff. I even had one of their coaches review my resume to make sure it all looked right. While I have noticed a slight uptick based on my revised format, it hasn’t yielded a full-time opportunity yet.

It’s been incredibly defeating receiving rejection after rejection or being ghosted altogether.

Caitlin Tolchin, 38, New York City

Caitlin Tolchin and her daughter. Jenny Powers
Caitlin Tolchin and her daughter.

I was laid off from my role as an art director in April 2020, a week after finding out I was pregnant with our first child. Recruiters said no one would hire someone that needed maternity leave so soon after starting, so I temporarily paused my job search.

Our daughter is now 10 months old and my unemployment just ran out. Over the past four months, I’ve applied to approximately 300 positions and only received five or six callbacks, all of which were for in-person jobs which is too big of a COVID risk right now with a baby in the house.

I want to return to work in a remote, freelance or project-based position with the possibility of a hybrid schedule down the line.

For now, I’m going to continue my search and in the meantime, I plan on taking classes to build up my skills in the hopes of becoming more marketable.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How one company partners with brands to recycle ‘unrecyclable’ items and give them a second life

the TerraCycle building with a green wall and logo
The TerraCycle building in New Jersey.

  • TerraCycle is a company that specializes in recycling non-conventional materials, like chewing gum.
  • It partners with businesses to reduce their waste and offers many different recycling options.
  • There’s also an option for individuals to partner with TerraCycle to recycle things like diapers.
  • This article is part of a series called “Partners for a Sustainable Future,” profiling innovative alliances that are driving real progress in sustainability.

When Casey Dworkin founded luxury shoe brand Sylven New York in 2017, she wanted sustainability to be a top priority not just for her business but also for anyone she partnered with. So she took steps to ensure her products and their packaging were made with environmentally friendly materials and in ethical factories.

headshot of Casey Dworkin in black and white
Casey Dworkin, founder of Sylven New York.

Then in 2019, she partnered with TerraCycle, a business that specializes in recycling non-conventional materials. TerraCycle melts down waste, pelletizes it, and shapes it to be repurposed into anything from shipping pallets to park benches.

“While the vast majority of recycling companies tend to concentrate on traditional waste streams like aluminum, paper, or specific types of plastic, TerraCycle has made a name for itself in recycling ‘the unrecyclable,'” Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, told Insider. “This type of hard-to-recycle waste takes the form of virtually anything from cigarette butts to plastic snack packaging to used chewing gum.”

Here’s a look at how TerraCycle helps companies like Sylven recycle their products.

Recycling for businesses and products of all shapes and sizes

the outside of the TerraCycle building with a tire display
The TerraCycle building exterior, made with recycled material.

TerraCycle offers different options to its partners, depending on the size and needs of the brand:

  • Zero waste box: This is what Dworkin and many other small-business owners use. Szaky calls it a “turnkey, all-inclusive recycling solution for hundreds of typically non-recycled items, from coffee capsules to the entire contents of your bathroom.”
  • Mail-in envelope recycling programs: These are typically for mid-sized brands with products that can fit in mailable envelope pouches.
  • Brand-sponsored national recycling programs: This option is for large-scale businesses that have a substantial amount of products to recycle. Companies that opt for this program also receive assistance from TerraCycle with social-media engagement and press outreach designed to drive consumer awareness of the policies.

Brands interested in integrating TerraCycle into their operations work with their business development team to develop a custom program and learn what their product may be turned into. “I’m sending them one of my shoes so that they can actually analyze the different components within it and give me a breakdown of exactly how each item and how each material can be recycled,” Dworkin, who used to create shoes with Italian leather but recently switched to apple leather, said.

a black shoe propped up by apples on a red table
Sylven shoes are made with apple leather. TerraCycle’s Tom Szaky says their recycled materials could work for playgrounds.

Her products are likely to be converted into material placed under playgrounds. “I don’t have shoes that are at the end of their product life, but my goal was to set a system in place so that when that time comes, we can be as responsible about their end life as possible,” Dworkin added.

TerraCycle works with third-party subcontracting facilities for processing and conversion work and a network of end users who implement the recycled material into their end-products, Skazy said. In one instance, TerraCycle partnered with Head & Shoulders to create the first recyclable shampoo bottle out of beach plastic.

Individuals can recycle almost anything, from diapers to 3D materials

plastic bottles used as decoration in the TerraCycle office
Plastic recyclables in the TerraCycle office.

While TerraCycle focuses on helping businesses, they also have options for individuals looking to recycle beyond paper and plastic products. Once a person makes a TerraCycle account, they have the opportunity to send in waste by purchasing specific product boxes to ship in or utilize a local drop-off location.

“I’m almost doing it on a consumer level,” Dworkin said. “I’m essentially purchasing their boxes that you use for footwear specifically, and I’ll be filling it and sending it to them.”

Pricing for these boxes range based on what a person wants to recycle. For example, boxes for 3D printing materials start at $149. Alternatively, a box for diaper and waste packaging begins at $72 for the same size. These price variations account for the cost of shipping and recycling the specific item.

Individuals shopping from brands who partner with TerraCycle can return their ready-to-be-recycled products to the company they purchased from. The brand then adds it to their pre-purchased containers to send to TerraCycle.

“During the lockdown, individuals also became more conscious of the volume of waste generated by themselves and their families. People had more time to think about the products they used, the amount of waste they were producing, and viable solutions for the packaging,” Szaky said.

Keeping the environment top of mind

In August, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change released a report stating that human influence has “unequivocally” warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land.

“Now more than ever, consumers expect the brands they support to be as committed to their mission as they are to their actual products and are demanding that companies be transparent about their sustainability efforts,” Szaky said. He believes that a brand partnering with TerraCycle shows its customers that they’re taking actionable steps to fight climate change.

As Dworkin scales up her business, she hopes to create custom systems with TerraCycle. “Before recycling, we always promote care and repair,” she said.

She speaks with admiration for the steps in place for bigger shoe and apparel brands TerraCycle’s partnered with, especially the analysis of each product to determine the most energy and cost-efficient methods of recycling each material.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for us to make custom solutions further down the road,” Dworkin said. “It’s super dependent on the specific materials that they’re looking at. So because my materials are so specific, it’ll be really cool to see exactly what solutions are possible.”

Read the original article on Business Insider