Pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek on how he became an entrepreneur and his best career advice

Rob Dyrdek
Rob Dyrdek.

Rob Dyrdek is a former pro skateboarder also known for hosting hit TV shows including Rob & Big, Ridiculousness, and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. He founded business incubator Dyrdek Machine and hosts the “Build With Rob” podcast. During our conversation, Rob talked about his journey from being a skateboarder to building his businesses.

In your early 20s, you gained fame as a professional skateboarder and were able to travel the world. Despite your success, why wasn’t skateboarding giving you the purpose and fulfillment you were seeking?

It wasn’t as much about the sport itself not giving me fulfillment, but I began to grow out of it because my true passion was creating and bringing ideas to life, and I had maxed out what was possible within skateboarding itself.

I looked at myself as a brand at a really early age, and turned pro when I was 16. I was around when we created the Alien Workshop, and that was the company I turned pro for. T

You’re part skater, part TV personality, and part entrepreneur. How were you able to turn your success as a skateboarder into a series of TV shows and into multiple businesses and partnerships?

At 14, I skated for a local skate shop whose founders started all of these companies. So even as I was turning pro, tracking all my own finances, and considering myself a brand at that early age, I was still watching companies get created.

I built my first company when I moved to California, when I was 18. My skateboarding career led to launching DC Shoes. And then the DC Shoes video led to a skit for a skate video, and that evolved into a television show on MTV.

That whole time I was constantly creating and building different businesses through the MTV platform, while being a pro skateboarder and creating new television shows. For me, this idea of business has always been the through line, and how do I maximize the opportunity that’s presented to me.

You’ve brought your family and friends with you, much like we saw in HBO’s Entourage series. How has involving your best friend and cousins in your projects deepened your relationship with them, and what have you taught them that has helped improve their careers?

For any business and anything that you create, meaningful relationships are at the core of it being fun. I’ve always been really clear on that. During my diligence period, right before I pull the trigger to decide whether I’m going to create a project with someone, it really boils down to: Do I want to be connected to them for life?

I am passionate. I am driven. I am focused. I am clear. But more than anything, I want to enjoy everything that I do. And any time I get through a process with someone where I can see we’re rubbing each other the wrong way or our energies aren’t connecting, then I just won’t do it.

With so many businesses and projects happening simultaneously, how do you manage your time and decide what projects to invest or divest in?

I look at life as this series of interconnected systems that all need to be aligned, integrated, and expanding in the same direction – and that direction is towards your ideal life. But it’s a balanced life, by design. It’s choosing the right projects, and how you actually live in those projects.

My entire existence, from the way I create companies to the way I shoot television, is fully systematized and automated. I have an 80-page document called The Rhythm of Existence that is the operating system for my life. At the end of the day, your energy is basically everything that you have, and that excitement about life and absolutely enjoying everything you’re doing is really what I’m hoping to achieve.

What’s your best piece of career advice?

I think the best piece of career advice is that you’re not building a career, you’re building a life. It’s finding the balance between who you are as a person – your passions, your physical strength, your happiness, what fulfills you – and the way that you earn a living, that feeds that purpose and who you are, and then how you want to live.

I think a lot of times, people don’t look at themselves as multidimensional beings that require all of these different aspects in order to be happy and balanced. They think their career is going to be the answer for the life that they want. But your career will never be the answer. It will be a part of the answer, and if it’s integrated into who you are and how you live, then you will truly be balanced and happy.

Watch the extended video episode on YouTube:

Listen to the audio episode:

Read the original article on Business Insider

A former deputy secretary of the Treasury thinks fiscal policy can be rewritten to combat the climate crisis – here’s how

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo, Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in New York. Amazon said Tuesday, June 23, 2020, that its carbon footprint rose 15% last year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon said in June 202 that its carbon footprint rose 15% over the previous year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment.

When we think of combating climate change, our minds tend to turn to green energy like solar or wind power. But the world of finance has a tremendous impact on the environment, and we’ll never be able to steer away from impending climate calamities until big business takes action.

Remarkably, Sarah Bloom Raskin says in the latest episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” financial firms have largely never even considered climate change in their financial plans and projections: “It just hasn’t been incorporated as a particular factor that is producing economic costs,” she said.

Given that experts predict climate change will cost the United States nearly two trillion dollars in GDP per year by the end of this century, this statement might sound absurd. But Raskin knows what she’s talking about: As the former deputy secretary of the US Department of the Treasury and a former governor of the Federal Reserve Board, she has spent her career closely observing the activities of banks, Wall Street firms, and other entities that shove billions of dollars around in any given workweek.

The good news is, big business is finally starting to acknowledge that climate change is happening.

As Germany faces biblical flooding and the United States is wracked from coast to coast with heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, the threat is now too real to ignore.

And now Raskin is a member of the Biden Administration’s Regenerative Crisis Response Committee, which is working to recommend a new suite of monetary and financial regulations to guide the United States to carbon neutrality by 2050. Raskin is tasked with helping to envision regulations that can be employed by the Federal Reserve, the SEC, the FDIC, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among other financial regulatory institutions, to address climate change.

Raskin is right now considering all of her options for how to create environmentally sound fiscal policy.

“Maybe what we want is to have a better understanding of what kind of carbon footprint a particular publicly traded company has – and what risk that carbon footprint might cause for them,” she said. The solution for that might be to call on the Securities Exchange Commission to require the company to release an environmental disclosure to shareholders, so “investors will then have a better ability to make decisions regarding where their capital goes and where they choose to invest.”

Raskin said “there’s quite a bit of momentum for” requiring environmental impact disclosures. And it’s not an unusual request to make: Publicly traded companies already have to provide hundreds of pages annually documenting potential risks that they face. A new requirement to reveal environmental risks falls well within these pre-existing guidelines.

The committee is also examining the concept of an environmental stress test for financial institutions.

“The stress test was a regulatory innovation used after the [2008] financial crisis to determine whether a regulated institution, particularly a bank, could withstand the shock of a particular magnitude, and what would happen to that bank if that shock was long-lasting,” Raskin explained.

If banks are unable to prove that they’d survive another Great Recession, for instance, they are barred from paying dividends out to shareholders until they can demonstrate that their foundations are more solid.

Raskin says European institutions are working to establish an adverse climate stress test for banks and other such institutions. If London suffered the extraordinary floods or long-term droughts that are plaguing other parts of the world, for example, would their banks be able to continue to serve their clients, or would a bailout be necessary?

Raskin and the rest of the committee is hard at work compiling a list of financial regulations and procedures for President Biden to take under consideration. And the best part is, because the policy would be delivered through existing financial regulatory structures, these financial regulations are unlikely to get held up in a partisan Congressional gridlock.

“I think it can all be done without new legislation,” Raskin said.

Policies like stress tests and disclosures already exist and are well-known to financial workers. And while “they haven’t been used to deal with this particular existential risk that confronts us,” Raskin explained, “they can be and they need to be.”

Now that the climate crisis has been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be real, it’s time for Big Finance, with the help of smart regulators like Raskin to adapt and respond to this new reality.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon’s 1997 shareholder letter is a free MBA class on leadership – here are 4 lessons from it

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos’ 1997 letter to Amazon shareholders highlighted his conviction and belief in the company’s future success.

  • Amazon’s 1997 shareholder letter offers brilliant business lessons from Jeff Bezos.
  • Alex Lieberman, executive chairman and cofounder of Morning Brew, recently posted on Twitter about those lessons.
  • His tweets outlining what Bezos did right have been reprinted with permission below.

Editor’s note: The below article began as a Twitter thread and has been republished with permission.

Amazon’s 1997 shareholder letter provides a glimpse into the brilliance of Jeff Bezos. It’s a free MBA class in strategy and leadership. Here are four lessons from it.

Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, Morning Brew co-founders
Alex Lieberman.

Lesson 1: Choose your words wisely

The letter is 1,617 words. The word ‘customer’ occurs 25 times.

That word focuses Bezos and focuses the people that look to him for guidance. Jeff knows that while Amazon’s mission is simple, execution is nearly impossible.

To succeed, the company’s north star must be unmistakable to everyone. Everything in this letter comes back to the customer.

Lesson 2: Have conviction

Every great entrepreneur has one thing in common: Conviction.

It’s about having a deep-rooted (likely contrarian) belief in an opportunity. An opportunity that is untapped, undervalued, and unappreciated.

Jeff Bezos shows wild conviction in the early days of Amazon. He sees a tidal wave that is the Internet, and he knows that if Amazon is in the best position to surf that wave, it’d become massive.

Lesson 3: Always acknowledge trade-offs

You can’t be a clear thinker without being honest about a decision’s trade-offs. Every decision has them. Despite his confidence, Bezos saw incredible risk in Amazon’s grand plan.

Jeff observed two major risks:

1) Other large, public companies saw opportunity in the internet like he did

2) It’s a market defined by network effects. Coming in second wasn’t an option.

This meant speed and heavy investment were mandatory.

Lesson 4: Set expectations early and often

I have found that the No. 1 failure of managers is an inability to set expectations. Sometimes it’s out of fear. Other times it’s an inability to communicate. But it is crucial to building any business for the long-term.

Jeff Bezos does this masterfully. From day one, he made it crystal clear to shareholders that investing in Amazon is opt-in. If you expect business performance quarterly … don’t invest. If you expect business performance over the long-term … join the party.

Alex Lieberman is the executive chairman and cofounder of Morning Brew.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new McKinsey study shows that inclusion isn’t just compatible with economic growth – it’s absolutely necessary

business owner using laptop in store
McKinsey’s new report unveils the high price of economic discrimination against minorities and women in the US.

  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke with JP Julien, head of McKinsey & Company’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility.
  • Julien says eliminating racial wealth disparities and unlocking women’s economic potential could add trillions to the US GDP.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most Econ 101 classes teach that an economy is a zero sum game – that it’s impossible to win without some other economic actor losing at the same time, and that one group’s gains must result in another group’s losses. Not only is this trickle-down theory completely wrong, but it’s also dangerous: Nationalist leaders around the world have played on voters’ fears by threatening that the economic progress of immigrants and minorities under progressive leaders will result in losses for everyone else.

Those claims couldn’t be further from the truth. A growing body of evidence proves that inclusion and economic growth march hand in hand.

How inclusivity aids economic growth

On this week’s episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” JP Julien discusses a report that he co-wrote in his capacity as a leader of global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility.

Julien says his paper, “The case for inclusive growth,” finds that economic “growth is actually at its best when it’s most inclusive.” When people from all races and backgrounds are “able to meaningfully engage and participate as workers, entrepreneurs, and consumers,” Julien explained, the economy “is stronger and more resilient.”

There’s already plenty of evidence for this in the American economy as it stands right now.

“We know that 40% of GDP growth between 1960 and 2010 can be almost directly tied to the greater participation of women and people of color in the labor force,” Julien explained. “The data speaks quite clearly that the more we get people to participate, the better outcomes we produce.”

Eliminating economic inequality could unlock trillions in annual GDP

The paper that Julien coauthored puts an eye-popping price tag on the economic discrimination against minorities and women in America. They found that “eliminating disparities in wealth between Black and white households and Hispanic and white households could result in the addition of $2 trillion to $3 trillion of incremental annual GDP to the US economy. Furthermore, unlocking women’s economic potential in the workforce over the coming years could add $2.1 trillion in GDP by 2025.”

It’s important to point out that the gains Julien is discussing are not zero-sum, winner-take-all numbers. Specifically, that 5 trillion dollars or so doesn’t come at the expense of the economic value of white men – it’s in addition to it. America’s economy is missing out on trillions of dollars of economic activity because whole populations of people have been systematically prohibited from fully participating as consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs.

Julien has been encouraged by the fact that over the past year “many Fortune 1000 companies are really leaning into the idea that being good corporate citizens actually creates opportunities.”

“We’ve done quite a bit of research on the benefits of more diverse boards and more diverse leadership teams,” Julien continued, “and they actually do financially outperform their peers.” The economic benefits of inclusion are becoming impossible to ignore, which is likely why “we’ve seen $66 billion from the Fortune 1000 in racial equity commitments between May and the end of last year.”

Why community participation is needed and ‘commitment’ isn’t enough

For centuries, our economy has been constructed around exclusionary policies, and simply making a commitment to inclusion isn’t enough to overcome those institutional barriers. Julien doesn’t believe this is a problem that can be overcome with a set of policies. He thinks it would be better for communities to “actually go through a focused process in which those that have been historically excluded are in the decision-making seat.”

It’s only by empowering excluded people to identify where they’ve been let down “and designing a set of strategies and investments that reflect both those needs and their strengths that we get to a set of outcomes that really work locally, because economic development is hyper-local,” Julien said. To tear down monolithic systems of inequity, it’s vital to begin by addressing the injustices in your own backyard.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A public-speaking coach gives 5 tips for nailing your first performance or meeting back in person

woman speaking public speaking
Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary – again.

  • Eileen Smith is a public-speaking coach and frequent keynote speaker.
  • She suggests planning how you’ll project a professional image when returning to offices and venues.
  • Connect with the audience before you speak, make eye contact, and move with purpose, she says.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I can feel the electricity in the room when I’m in front of a live audience. I know if there’s spirited conversation before the event begins, and I can read people’s faces and body language.

Eileen Smith
Eileen Smith.

All these cues feed my energy and how I project it back to my listeners.

Of course, when everything moved online during the pandemic, I had to figure out how to get these cues back. I found myself reaching out through chat rooms and using polls to take the pulse of my virtual audiences.

As we move back to the office again, even if it’s in a hybrid workplace, many of our public-speaking skills might be a little rusty. Here are five ways to dust yours off and excel in that first in-person gathering.

Read more: 10 tips for landing and delivering your own TEDx talk, from a TEDx speaker whose talk has over 15 million views

Remember your performance starts when you enter the room

The beginning of an event or meeting is not the time to tuck into your phone or study your notes. When you enter a venue, your performance has already begun.

Project a strong executive presence by walking in with your eyes up and shoulders back. Say hello to people you know and introduce yourself to people you don’t. Engage in conversation until the meeting begins. Greet everyone like a boss or old friend.

For a more formal speaking event, once you’re set up with your technology and materials, stand by the door and introduce yourself to people as they arrive. If you’re holed away in a green room, you can find your fellow speakers or even a few staffers to talk with.

This approach has a few advantages. First, it gives you the opportunity to ask people what brings them in and what they most want to learn from this event. Then weave their stories or questions into your talk to make it more personal.

Second, keeping yourself involved in conversation until the event begins may help calm your nerves. Otherwise, you might spend those last minutes building anxiety about how your first foray back into a live audience will go.

Third, audience members who have had a chance to say hello will feel more connected to you as a speaker.

Make eye contact

Your goal when speaking in person is to make actual eye contact. Don’t look above your audience at the back wall, don’t stare at a spot on the table, and don’t look at the forest, but miss the trees.

I like to separate my audience into three sections. In each section, I seek out my new best friend. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve met this person before. I’m looking for someone who’s giving me positive feedback – smiling and nodding at what I have to say.

Once you’ve found your three new best friends, one for each section of your audience, take turns making direct eye contact with them while you’re speaking.

Wait until you reach a punctuation mark in your sentence before you move on to your next best friend. This helps you regulate your eye movement. If you switch between people too fast, you risk giving off the windshield-wiper effect. If you linger on one person for too long, it can become uncomfortable.

Gesture with meaning

At home on a video screen, small gestures are the rule. Perhaps you’ve been consciously keeping your gestures within the camera frame so they aren’t lost from view. Or perhaps the low-key work-from-home environment has depleted your inspiration for big gestures.

Either way, in person you can spread out.

If you’re someone who naturally talks with your hands, that’s wonderful. However, make a recording of yourself on your phone so you can check to see that your hands are saying what you think they’re saying. A little emphasis is good. Too much is, well, too much.

An important thing to keep in mind after hunching in your home office for so long is to keep your posture strong and body open. Crossed arms, hands clasped down in front like a fig leaf, and fidgeting with your hands are signs of discomfort.

Look self-assured by deploying confident hand gestures. Steepling “is a universal display of confidence and is often used by those in a leadership position,” Joe Navarro, a retired FBI agent and author, told Insider. You can also try nesting your hands together lightly or holding them separately at your midsection. Hands down by your sides is another confident position. This is a favorite for many world leaders, as seen at the recent G7 Summit

Move with purpose

Moving around when you’re speaking in front of people is an effective way to hold their attention.

Step to one side of the stage or conference room to connect with that part of the audience. Stay there until you finish your thought. Try out that solid eye contact. Then move to the other side of the stage or another spot. Finish your thought before you move again.

Be measured in your movement. When you’re standing still, avoid shuffling, tapping, or otherwise letting your legs betray your nervous energy. When you’re not walking, take a strong stance, keep your posture straight, and hold your feet firm.

Treat nerves as excitement and energy

Keep in mind that your audience wants you to succeed – if only for the simple reason that it’s uncomfortable to watch someone who’s outwardly nervous. Turn that tension into positive energy and project confidence on the outside.

If your nerves are threatening to get the best of you, take a moment. “The breath is a direct line to the nervous system and the brain,” Tara Antonipillai, a corporate wellness expert, told Insider. “Remind yourself that you can turn off the panic response in the brain and turn on that thinking reasoning part of the brain by simply slowing down and deepening the breath.”

Also, try mentally reframing your nervous reaction into excitement. Build your confidence through preparation and practice, print your notes as a safety net in case you forget what you want to say, and focus your thoughts on all the wonderful things that can happen, instead of thinking about what might go wrong.

Eileen Smith is a public-speaking coach, keynote speaker, and former diplomat. Find her tips to help business executives, policy experts, and rising professionals achieve preparation, confidence, and career success at

Read the original article on Business Insider

Handshakes will return quickly post-pandemic – a neuroscientist explains why

social distancing at work office masks covid coronavirus
Two business colleagues greeting with elbow in office. Business people bump elbows in office for greeting during covid-19 pandemic.

  • Moran Cerf is a professor of neuroscience and business at Kellogg School of Management.
  • He regularly answers questions about psychology, business, and behavior via email from people who attend his talks.
  • This week, he explains why handshaking and ‘chemosignaling’ are important for human interactions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Q: Handshakes used to be a common gesture in the business world. Will they become obsolete post-pandemic, and if so, what do you think will replace them?

A: There is a debate among scientists about what handshakes are for. Historic arguments suggest it was a medieval way people showed they’re not carrying a weapon, by offering their dominant hand (most people in the world are right-handed and they would use their sword with that hand). Other cultural arguments speak to the need for touch as a gesture of goodwill – you offer a person access to your personal space upon meeting them.

Moran Cerf.
Moran Cerf.

One of the recent arguments for handshakes that neuroscientists use, however, is that handshakes allow you to measure the synchrony between two individuals as a chemosignaling.

In plain words, we rub our hands on one another so that our odors will blend, and we can smell whether we are compatible – sexually, or simply on histocompatibility and immune system. Our bodies check whether the other person is somehow genetically relevant for us, if we can trust them, or if they are the type of person who would respond to experiences in a similar way.

How handshakes allow for chemosignaling

In a study done by a colleague of mine, they had participants come to the lab for an experiment. Before the experiment officially started, the person administering the test greeted them, shook their hand, and asked them to stay in the waiting room for a few minutes and relax before the study began.

In reality, the study already began. The study was the handshake and the waiting. What the scientists saw was that within the few minutes of waiting, most people bring their right hand – the one used for the handshake – close to their noses, and essentially ‘sniff’ the mixture of the odors generated by the experimenter and the subject. They sniff their hands to see whether the mixture is activating the right processes in the brain, which trigger an unconscious understanding that the other person is potentially a relevant partner.

The experimenters ran the study with numerous controls. For some people the experimenter shaking the participant’s hand was a man, for others it was a woman.

They repeated the experiment with numerous other conditions: they tested participants who were straight/gay (seeing if people sniff only others who match their sexual preferences), while wearing/not wearing gloves (no chemosignaling when a glove is used, and no hand smelling that followed), by shaking the left hand rather than right (people would then bring that hand closer to their nose), etc.

Why chemosignaling is important for human interaction

The point is that handshakes aren’t just a business act that conveys seriousness and legitimacy, for example ‘sealing a deal’ with a handshake. It’s also a way for humans to communicate – brain to brain – unconsciously. It’s a way for us to signal trust, vulnerability, emotions, or interest, in ways that go directly into our brain and activate processes that impact the interaction between people without words.

Because of this, I predict handshakes will be back.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 trends to expect from the post-pandemic economic boom, according to an expert

Edge Hudson yards reopening NYC coronavirus pandemic
Visitors at the reopening of the Edge Hudson Yards in New York City.

  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke with Economist reporter Callum Williams about the history of post-pandemic booms.
  • Williams says that historically, moments of crisis tend to be followed by periods of political unrest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Google Trends search shows use of the word “unprecedented” online spiked in December of 2016 and January 2017 – likely in response to the election and inauguration of Donald Trump. But every other spike in the use of “unprecedented” is completely dwarfed by its rise in March of 2021, when the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns began. Everyone seemed to agree: We live in unprecedented times.

But any historian will tell you that when it comes to human history, there’s no such thing as “unprecedented.” If you look hard enough, you’re sure to find precedents to virtually any situation. And by studying those precedents, you’re likely to find guidance on how to – and how not to – respond to your current situation.

In a recent Economist article, reporter Callum Williams examined the historical record to discover “What history tells you about post-pandemic booms.” Williams focused specifically on economic recovery from “massive non-financial disruption” – meaning he didn’t include purely financial crashes like the Great Recession of 2008. He kept his research targeted solely on economic activity following pandemics and wars.

In the latest episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” Williams joined hosts Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein to discuss three major themes he uncovered that he believes might inform America’s post-pandemic recovery.

1. Once the crisis has passed, people spend more money – but not on luxury goods and frivolous behavior.

According to the Kansas City Fed, the average American household savings as a percentage of disposable income increased at record rates during the pandemic, from a pre-pandemic low of 7.2% to “a record high of 33.7% in April 2020.” This makes sense: When people aren’t certain about what the short-term future will bring, they start saving every penny they can.

There’s plenty of precedent for this behavior. In his article, Williams wrote, “In the first half of the 1870s, during an outbreak of smallpox, Britain’s household-saving rate doubled. Japan’s saving rate more than doubled during the first world war. In 1919-20, as the Spanish flu raged, Americans stashed away more cash than in any subsequent year until the second world war.”

Once the crisis has passed, it might seem obvious that Americans will frivolously spend all that money they’ve saved, triggering a wild economic boom. But that’s not been the case in the past.

For instance, Williams quotes from a Goldman Sachs report that found American “consumers spent about 20% of their excess savings between 1946 and 1949” immediately following World War II. They were spending, Williams explains, but “they absolutely weren’t just going out and blowing it all on one massive night out or big holiday.”

So where did all that money go? It largely went to long-term investments – career changes, new business strategies, and entrepreneurship. Williams says this cycle is repeating itself in America right now.

“The rate of entrepreneurship among the population in the US was actually going down, for about 40 years,” Williams explained. “But then COVID came, and now it’s going back up again.” He calls the small-business boom “a pattern you see again and again” in post-crisis economies.

2. People seek out new solutions to old problems, reshaping the economy.

It’s much easier to take risks when you’ve confronted an existential threat. And businesses have often responded to society-shaking crises with a tremendous boom of automation.

Williams argues that the automation of telephone lines in the 1920s, which put thousands of young women who served as phone operators out of work, was a direct consequence of the Spanish Flu. “Others have drawn a link between the Black Death and Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press,” Williams wrote.

But despite the historical precedent, “there is as yet little hard evidence of a surge in automation because of COVID-19,” Williams continued. He says that even in Australia, which has essentially been living in a post-pandemic era for months, “there’s no evidence” that automation has sped up.

“For instance, there’s as many people doing manual data entry as there were before,” in Australia, he explained, “which is exactly the kind of job that you’d expect the robots to take over.”

But it’s likely that the kinds of jobs available in the economy will change. Some of the restaurant industry’s shift to takeout and delivery options will likely stick, and other careers in the hospitality and travel sectors are likely to evolve.

3. Great periods of political upheaval tend to follow moments of crisis.

Williams cites research that the International Monetary Fund has done into post-crisis civil unrest (PDF). After recent pandemics like SARS, Zika virus, and Ebola, the IMF found that “these pandemic events tend to accelerate or to increase” protests and other forms of civil unrest.

“The increase is particularly large in societies that are more unequal,” Williams added. (Before the pandemic began, the United States hit its worst levels of income inequality in over half a century.)

While the number of coronavirus infections is declining in the United States, we’re not necessarily done with the threat of upheaval. “One of the interesting findings in one of the IMF papers is that civil unrest tends to peak about two years after the pandemic’s end,” Williams said.

Of course, this isn’t a guarantee that the United States will go through more ugly scenes like the violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. But it is a profound warning about our nation’s future – a message in a bottle from our past.

Leaders should take these warnings seriously by ensuring a more equal society, so everyone can be included in the post-pandemic economic growth that history tells us is likely on the way. Broadly shared prosperity doesn’t necessarily guarantee a more peaceful society – but the copious historical precedent for the unprecedented times we’re bound to face shows that it definitely doesn’t hurt.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Belgium’s Prime Minister shares 4 lessons on how the European country is outpacing the US in vaccination rates

Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo arrives on the second day of a European Union (EU) summit at The European Council Building in Brussels on June 25, 2021.
Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at an EU Summit in Brussels in June 2021.

  • Peter Vanham is head of the International Media Council and Chairman’s Communications at the World Economic Forum.
  • He recently spoke with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo about the country’s success in the COVID vaccine rollout.
  • “We wanted people to be motivated by our fight against the pandemic,” De Croo said of his administration’s efforts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“When in doubt, look at Belgium,” probably said no one, ever. But when it comes to reaching herd immunity against COVID, the European country that is home to both the European Union and NATO – and of course, Jean-Claude Van Damme – may in fact have some lessons to share.

Back in the Fall and Winter, the country’s COVID strategy still looked like it was headed nowhere. Its death rate per capita was higher than almost any other Western country, and its vaccination campaign by mid March was lagging all the major European countries, and of course that of the US.

By the end of June, however, that picture got turned on its head. Belgium has barely any COVID patients left in its ICU beds, and it recently surpassed the United States and all other major European countries in terms of COVID vaccination. How did that happen, and can America learn from the experience?

Belgium treated the vaccination campaign as a marathon, not a sprint.

“We knew we would take off slower than other countries,” the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told me in a phone interview. “But we wanted to build a scalable campaign that could accelerate as deliveries started to pick up.”

And that’s also what happened. Belgium chose to only build 150 vaccination centres for its 11.5 million people, says government scientific advisor Sam Proesmans. That increased the distance people needed to travel to get their shot, but it did make it easier to distribute, store and administer large amounts of vaccine as they got delivered.

The country also did not close itself off from the outside world when deliveries got delayed. Belgium in fact is home to both Pfizer and AstraZeneca facilities, where hundreds of millions of doses were made. Like the US, it could have introduced a “National Defence Act”, to protect its supplies.

But, the Belgian Prime Minister said, doing so would go against international solidarity and the country’s commitment to free trade. “There’s a reason pharmaceutical companies produce in Belgium,” said De Croo. “It’s because we are an export country. We want to maintain that position.”

It tried to get as close as possible to a 100% vaccination rate.

Where some other countries quickly opened up vaccination to the general population, Belgium tried to get all vulnerable populations 100% vaccinated, before proceeding to others.

This included convincing vaccine skeptics, who had underlying conditions but nevertheless did not want the vaccine. But with a “warm, but professional” approach by doctors, nurses, and community workers, in some target groups up to 93% of people have gotten their shot.

That is important, the government’s scientific advisor Sam Proesmans told me, because it’s the old and the sick that need protection from the virus most, as they have the highest risk of ending up in ICU or dying from it. Protecting them fully was therefore a first-order priority.

And, De Croo added, it helped to get those waiting in line next to be convinced also. “There’s no better promotion for vaccinations than word-by-mouth,” he said. “If those who got the vaccine had a good experience, those coming behind them will want to get it too.”

It never paused or wasted any doses.

Very early on, Belgium’s corona task force decided to be guided mainly by science and numbers, not by sentiment. “We wanted to make rational decisions, not emotional ones,” Proesmans said.

That meant, for example, vaccination with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines continued, even as reports emerged of rare associated side-effects, such as thrombosis. Halting the vaccination even a few days, the task force calculated, would result in many more deaths than those that could happen because of the alleged side-effect. So it stuck to its guns.

Similarly, the country wanted to minimize waste of any vaccines, as they were the country’s most precious good. A digitally managed reserve list was created in case some people didn’t show up for their appointment.

That reserve list, QVAX, was enabled through a novel approach: Seaters, a start-up focused on filling sports stadiums last minute if people did not show, used its software now to set up a similar process for the empty “seats” for vaccination. CEO of Seaters, Jean-Sébastien Gosuin, told me in an email that by June, more than 200,000 “fans” had been vaccinated this way.

It made the fight against COVID a positive story, not a negative one.

“We wanted people to be motivated by our fight against the pandemic,” De Croo said. So by Easter, the government switched from “negative” stats such as ICU beds and infections, to “positive” ones such as vaccinations.

“The faster you get vaccinated, the faster we’ll be able to end the lockdown and restrictions: that became the message”, De Croo said. That focus on the carrot part of the “carrot-and-the-stick” worked.

For senior citizens, seeing their grandchildren and going out again became a motivating factor to get vaccinated; for younger people, knowing they could travel again or go to concerts was equally motivating.

In the end, it all added up to the current state and outlook: Almost 60% of Belgians got at least one shot of the COVID vaccine, and at the current rate, herd immunity is in sight over summer. Belgium may not be top of mind often, but when it comes to COVID vaccinations, it turns out it does hold some lessons for others.

Read the original article on Business Insider

After 10 years climbing the ranks, I quit my job without giving notice. Here’s why you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay if a job is damaging to your mental health.

Rahkim Sabree
Make sure you have “the stomach to handle the rollercoaster of emotions,” before quitting your job, writes Rahkim Sabree.

  • Rahkim Sabree is an entrepreneur, financial educator, and former banking program manager.
  • In May, Sabree quit his job and posted on Twitter about his decision.
  • Sabree says he doesn’t regret that he quit without notice, as it was necessary to protect his mental health.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At 21 years old, I started working as a part-time teller for a large national bank. Over the next decade, I held various roles that included seller, supervisor, and manager before transitioning to a non-customer facing program manager role at a smaller regional bank. There I was responsible for overseeing email messaging, inbound chat, and social media by creating and updating policies and procedures, establishing escalation guidelines, and interfacing across multiple teams. I enjoyed the fast pace and autonomy of the work.

Around 2018, I became interested in financial education.

After reading the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” I started having conversations with friends and family about saving, investing, and building credit. The more I learned, the more I wanted to share, so I decided to build a passion project around financial empowerment, to represent not only an underserved community, but a lack of diversity in content creators geared towards that community.

Over time, I became a financial literacy influencer on social media, wrote two books, and gave a TEDx talk.

While my passion project picked up steam, it also led to condescending remarks and questions from my employers around where my loyalties lie with the company. I was repeatedly asked to document any work I did outside of my role, from contributing to publications to speaking at conferences – despite that work being separate and done on my own time.

In February of 2021, I began to have anxiety about keeping my job amid the pandemic layoffs.

I found myself having to constantly reassure leadership of my commitment to the bank. Anxiety and fear turned into frustration and anger as I felt I was was being assigned unrelated tasks to keep me “busy,” given conflicting instruction on projects and assignments, and required to document my business interests and activities outside of the company.

That slow boil feeling also included me receiving the smallest merit increase I’d received, coupled with the comment that I should be grateful because “some people got nothing” and attempts to surveil and micromanage how I spent my time both on and off the clock. Ultimately it began to feel like a hostile environment. It started to take a toll on my mental health – I was angry, anxious, unfulfilled, and unhappy.

On May 28, I submitted my resignation via email effective immediately, concerned about retaliation attempts had I given a full two weeks’ notice. Leading up to this, I’d been sharing my frustration on the job with my small Twitter community since February, so I decided to share my decision to quit in what would become a viral tweet.

My manager immediately attempted to call and text me for an explanation, but by that time I’d made up my mind. I stuck around long enough to see the termination notice go out, and then I logged off with a sigh of relief.

On Twitter, I was immediately celebrated for sharing my story with likes, retweets, and comments that included “I’m next” and “I’m proud of you” as I shared my plans to continue building my passion project without limitations and fear. Since quitting, I’ve been focusing on monetizing my experience and thought leadership in personal finance via coaching, consulting, and digital content creation.

Mental health is a taboo topic, especially for men of color, and it’s not talked about nearly enough.

The most crucial thing I’ve learned from this experience is realizing the importance of my mental health. I’ve taken to reading and writing more as well as sharing my story via social media. I intend on starting a podcast and Youtube channel that speaks to not only my journey, but aims to highlight and support those on a similar path. I don’t have regrets, but I would advise anyone considering making the leap of quitting to ensure you have a strong support system, financial backing, and the stomach to handle the rollercoaster of emotions to follow.

The thoughts expressed are those of the writer. Insider confirmed his previous employment.

Rahkim Sabree is a personal finance influencer, author, speaker, and financial coach who focuses on helping entrepreneurs and business leaders optimize their financial future. Visit his website or connect with him on Twitter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chipotle gave huge payouts to its CEO and shareholders, then blamed workers for price increases – here’s what’s really going on

Chipotle workers
  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke about Chipotle’s announcement to increase menu prices by about 4% to cover increased employee wages.
  • Constant points out, however, the price increase could be to cover the $24 million raise recently given to CEO Brian Niccol.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last week, the “New York Times” ran a story about a small menu price increase at a fast-casual food chain. Written by Julie Creswell, the piece began, “Executives at Chipotle said on Tuesday that the fast-food chain had raised menu prices by about 4% to cover the cost of the increased employee wages.”

Headlined “Chipotle will increase its menu prices as labor costs rise,” this story is confusing for a few reasons.

Price increases and wages

Firstly, the New York Times is not traditionally in the business of reporting on price increases in restaurants. And a 4% increase doesn’t seem newsworthy at all – Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol admits in the last paragraph of the piece that the increase amounts to “quarters and dimes that we’re layering in” to existing prices.

So the only reason this story could possibly be considered worthy of the Times’s world-famous “All the News That’s Fit to Print” slogan is Chipotle’s claim that the price increases were directly caused by increased worker pay. The chain recently raised its starting wages to an average of $15 per hour – but only in a fraction of its restaurants. Creswell writes that the “pay increases apply only to [Chipotle’s] 650 company-owned restaurants; the vast majority of its nearly 14,000 restaurants in the United States are independently owned.”

So with all that information in mind, the hook of this New York Times story seems to be that Chipotle’s executives are blaming a tiny menu price-bump on a starting-wage increase that’s been enacted in roughly one out of 20 of its restaurants.

What’s disappointing is that Creswell seems to be repeating Niccol’s claims without doing any investigation into Chipotle’s finances. Chipotle never supports its claims that the price increase is due to wage increases, and Creswell never mentioned that Chipotle paid Niccol $38 million last year – an all-time high.

Joanna Fantozzi at Nation’s Restaurant News reports that Niccol’s 2020 salary was “set to be just $14.8 million but financial targets were waived in light of the company’s stellar performance during the pandemic.” So Chipotle’s executives gave its CEO a $24 million dollar raise, which means that Niccol earned “2,898 times more than the median Chipotle worker’s salary of $13,127.”

Why didn’t Chipotle’s board mention Niccol’s $24 million raise as a possible reason for its menu price increases? Creswell doesn’t say. She also doesn’t note that as of the first quarter of 2021, Chipotle was sitting on $1.2 billion in cash and equivalents.

The Times story also doesn’t mention that the company is now in the middle of a huge stock buyback campaign. Sakshi Agarwalla writes at Seeking Alpha that “In an effort to enhance shareholders’ value, [Chipotle] restarted its stock repurchase plans and have announced additional $100 million for stock buyback, bringing to a total $153.8 million repurchase plan. At the end of the first quarter, [Chipotle] repurchased 61.2 million shares worth $87.2 million.”

Stock buybacks and wealth transfer

You can learn more about stock buybacks in this week’s episode of “Pitchfork Economics” with special guest Senator Cory Booker, but the shorthand is this: Stock buybacks, which were illegal before 1982, have proven to be one of the most efficient mechanisms of wealth transferral from workers to the wealthy over the last 40 years. The richest 10%of American households own 84% of the stock in this country, and the top 1% holds about 38%. So Chipotle takes profits that could go to keeping menu prices low and employee wages high and instead hands them off to wealthy shareholders, no strings attached.

Despite the fact that Chipotle has dedicated nearly $200 million to executive and shareholder payouts in the last few months, the New York Times credulously reprinted the company’s claims that an average $15/hour starting wage in 650 restaurants is the reason why the company is increasing menu prices by 4%. To be clear, I’m only singling the Times out as an example here because they’re the gold standard of journalism – the truth is that a number of outlets repeated Chipotle’s claims without investigating the numbers.

The complete failure of many legitimate news sources to interrogate these claims should be a learning moment for business journalists. If you’re simply repeating the information given to you in a press release from a corporation’s PR department, you’re not in the news business – you’re volunteering for the company’s marketing campaign.

Read the original article on Business Insider