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These Are The 5 New Samsung S8 Features That Could Make You Ditch Your iPhone

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:15:00 GMT

For the last few years, Apple has reliably trailed Samsung in releasing the latest and greatest premium smartphone features. And this morning, Samsung jumped out in front again with the official launch of its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The new devices offer several features that the iPhone doesn’t yet have—and some of them could really change (and improve) the way we use the devices. Big and Bright Samsung’s strong suit is the display, and the company put a beauty on the S8. It’s an edge-to-edge OLED screen, so it removes the bezel space around the screen area. “So it’s the same footprint (same size as S7 and S7+), there’s nothing bigger to hold, and you get a much bigger screen,” says Gartner analyst Brian Blau, who spoke from the Samsung event in New York. The S8 has a 5.8-inch display compared to the S7’s 5.1-inch screen. The S8+ has a 6.2-inch display, compared to the S7+’s 5.5-inch display. That’s a big step up. However, it does create an elongated aspect ratio in the new phone screens. We’ll see how that works with third-party apps. And like all Samsung displays, it’s noticeably bigger and brighter than those on other smartphones. The screen is so big that it crowded out the space needed for a physical home button. So users will rely on the software buttons in Android for control. Iris Scanner Samsung included an biometric iris scanner in its failed Galaxy Note 7 phone, but the technology was a little unreliable as a quick way to unlock the phone. Samsung has tried again in the S8, with hopefully better results. “The iris scanner is going to be big,” says Bob O’Donnell of Technalysis Research (who also spoke from the event). “It’s a really secure biometric method, and it’s great that Samsung is giving people the option of using that and using the fingerprint reader.” Gartner’s Blau is also bullish on the iris scanner but isn’t a fan of the new placement of the fingerprint reader (which got pushed to the back of the phone when the physical home button went away). “It’s ill-positioned because it’s right next to the camera on the back of the phone,” he says. “I worry that it’s going to lead to users smudging the camera lens.” The Harmon Connection O’Donnell is impressed with the new AKG earbuds that will ship with the new S8s. They normally cost $99, but are included for free. Smartphone makers have traditionally made poor earphones (Apple recently became the exception) so Samsung let somebody who knows audio provide the buds. “It’s an impressive first integration with Harmon,” O’Donnell says. Samsung bought Harmon in late 2016 for its automotive and consumer audio technology, and has been furiously working to bring the U.S.-based company into the Samsung fold. Another Desktop Dock Both O’Donnell and Blau thought Samsung’s new DeX desktop dock for the S8 was notable, but are reserving judgment until they learn how well it actually works. “The notion of the phone as pocket computer is something that we’ve seen before from Motorola and others, but this looks like a more serious effort,” O’Donnell said. He added that the dock is powered by a bit of software called Citrix Receiver, which will allow users to securely connect to a cloud and display enterprise apps in the S8’s Android environment. Gartner’s Blau: “To be honest, it’s not going to be something for everyone, but it might be useful for a certain segment of mobile workers.” An Assistant That Can See Samsung used the event as a sort of coming-out party for its new “Bixby” digital personal assistant and Siri competitor. “Bixby is interesting because it does both voice and image recognition,” O’Donnell said. “The concept is that the assistant can both understand talking and can see, which is conceptual[...]


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This Neighborhood Is Transforming By Letting Artists Buy Its Vacant Homes For Cheap

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:30:00 GMT

For artists, the gentrification cycle in cities often goes something like this: struggling photographers or painters or writers move into an industrial neighborhood with cheaper rents and transform it. As new businesses spring up to serve these new residents, the neighborhood becomes more desirable to a wider swath of upper-middle class professionals. Eventually, rents increase so much that the artists have to move away. In Indianapolis, one block in the Garfield Park neighborhood south of the city’s downtown is experimenting with a different model. An arts nonprofit worked with other partners to buy and renovate vacant houses and is now offering to co-own them with artists. Artists will pay half the cost–one $80,000 home, for example, will sell for around $40,000. If they later move out, they’ll get their equity back, but no more; the house will be sold at the same cost to someone else, keeping the neighborhood accessible as the artists help make it more desirable. Photo: courtesy Big Car Collaborative “Neither of the two sides can profit off of an inflated market value,” says Jim Walker, executive director of Big Car Collaborative, the art and placemaking nonprofit leading the project along with the local Riley Area Development Corporation and local neighborhood associations. “That’s to keep us from pricing out future owners of the homes.” The nonprofit, along with several of its members, was based in a nearby neighborhood, called Fountain Square, for seven years until it was priced out as rents rose. “At that point, the ship had sailed and commercial and, later, residential gentrification was underway,” he says. “And we knew it was time for us to do something different.” When Big Car bought an abandoned factory on a block in Garfield Park, converting it into a community art center that opened in 2016, the organization realized that there was a bigger opportunity in the area. The block, cut off from part of the neighborhood by a highway built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had declined for years; roughly half of the houses were abandoned. Photo: courtesy Big Car Collaborative “The thought was, let’s have these houses be cultural locations that are also studio space and living space for artists,” says Walker. Although housing in Indianapolis is cheap relative to some other parts of the country, wages are also low, and for someone working in a creative field, buying a house might not be attainable. The low land prices on this particular block made it possible for the partners to buy the houses, fix them up, and still offer them at a cost that artists can afford. “These homes were available to us below $20,000, on average, because they were owned by banks in Florida and other investors who just walked away,” says Eric Strickland, executive director of Riley Area Development Corporation, which works on community development in and around downtown Indianapolis. In addition to funds invested by the organizations that are involved, local developers and architects–along with neighbors–also donated labor. Some supplies were also donated. The resulting houses are both affordable and neutrally finished, so artists can customize the final space to their own taste. The location has some advantages for artists. Anyone who buys a house in the program can use resources in the art center at the end of the block, such as a wood shop and screen printing shop. A separate building houses a sound art gallery and a community radio station. As more artists move into the homes, there will be a built-in community. “There’s also a need, I think, for artists to be in a community and to be connected with each other,” says Walker. “This is a way for them to be in close proximity with others, and also have our building and the workshop that’s here and the facility as something they can use.” There are more underused resources in the neighbo[...]


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In 15 Years, Millions Of People Will Give Up Their Cars For Autonomous Ride Hailing

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:00:00 GMT

In L.A.–where commuters each spent an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic in 2016–most people drive to work alone. But in 15 years, a new report estimates, more than 2 million of them may have given up their cars. “We were very aware that the first time cities met cars, things went well for cars and somewhat less well for cities.” Autonomous cars are likely to be on roads in three or four years. As adoption scales up, the cost of an Uber or Lyft (or whatever company replaces them) ride may drop roughly in half for consumers: not having to pay a driver will make the ride cost much less. The report, called Driverless Future, estimates how many car owners are likely to shift to hailing a driverless car because using an app is cheaper–and what that shift means for American cities. “What we saw in the model–and we ran it a few different ways–is it’s going to be a monumental shift,” Joe Iacobucci, director of transit for Sam Schwartz, an engineering firm that partnered with Arcadis and HR&A to create the report, tells Fast Company. “Forty percent to 60% who are driving today will have an economic rationale to shift to those services.” Photo: Flickr user Ahmed ElHusseiny The report looked at three representative cities. In the New York metro area, the drop in car ownership could be as much as 60%, or 3.6 million vehicles, versus as much as a 44% drop in L.A. and a 31% drop in Dallas. (The differences in the economics are driven primarily by the cost of parking, which is very high in Manhattan and often free in Dallas). With fewer personal vehicles, cities could radically change. “The potential reduction in space needed to store vehicles provides cities an incredible advantage or opportunity to rethink the way that our streets work, and our very pricey urban infrastructure,” says Iacobucci. “The potential reduction in space needed to store vehicles provides cities an incredible advantage or opportunity.” “When you look at an average street, in a lot of cases, you could say 25% of the street is actually dedicated to the storage of cars,” he says. “If we need one drop-off space that satisfies 20 parking spaces, we could essentially create on-street bus networks, separated bike lanes, and large pedestrian facilities to make our streets the best practice of a living street.” Former parking garages could become housing or office space. In downtown Washington, D.C., 40% of land is dedicated to parking; in a less-dense downtown like Houston, that number is 65%. (The report recommends that any new parking garages built now should be designed for future conversion to another use). Related businesses, like gas stations and car washes, could also move out of densely-populated areas to free up space. Photo: Flickr user Ahmed ElHusseiny For people who can’t currently afford a car and don’t live near strong public transportation, access to cheap autonomous rides has the potential to help them reach better-paying jobs. Neighborhoods segregated by income are associated with lower economic mobility, and researchers who have studied the phenomenon say that better transportation is part of the solution. Conversely, the shift to more ride hailing might mean that higher-income families are more willing to move to suburbs that are further away; this would be bad because the less that low-income families are exposed to more successful ones, the less likely it becomes that poor children make it into another income bracket. The choices that cities make now in policy could determine whether the outcome is positive. For example, to ensure that lower-income residents can use ride hailing to reach jobs in different neighborhoods, cities may need to require companies like Uber to offer alternate ways to hail or pay for a ride for people who can’t afford a smartphone. Many cities are beginning the process of planning for an autonomous [...]


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The Remake of Stephen King’s “It” Now Has a Trailer And You Now Have Nightmares

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:47:00 GMT

WHAT: The terrifying first trailer for the long-gestating remake of Stephen King’s It.

WHO: Director Andrés Muschietti, and a cast of mostly unknown child actors.

WHY WE CARE: For a long time, it seemed as if the most interesting thing about this project would be the behind-the-scenes drama. Hot off the zeitgeist-snatching success of True Detective season one, director Cary Fukunaga announced he would be adapting the much-loved book and network miniseries into a two-part film. After writing a screenplay, however, Fukunaga eventually left what had become a troubled production in the summer of 2015. After a brief limbo period, directing duties fell to Andrés Muschietti, who helmed the surprise horror hit, Mama. Some of the excitement around the possibilities of the Stephen King-inspired enterprise had undoubtedly dissipated. No longer, though. Now that the first of the two films has a trailer, it seems difficult to argue that fans are in good hands. Although the clip starts with a very familiar paper sailboat floating perilously close to a sewage drain, things quickly deviate from the 1990 miniseries. For instance, there’s a slideshow scene that goes off the rails in a way that seems true to the spirit of the original, even though it didn’t happen in it. (For our money, these kinds of deviations are what make remakes and adaptations most worthwhile.) And although much has been said about how no performance could possibly be as chilling as Tim Curry’s take on Pennywise the Clown, the glimpses we get of Bill Skarsgård hint that he may be worthy of the big (clown)shoes he has to fill.

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Mathieu Bitton’s Stunning Leica Exhibit Blends A Love Of Photography And Black Culture

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:45:00 GMT

There’s no plaque or certificate to verify this, but Mathieu Bitton is pretty sure his home is “the world’s smallest Black History museum.” Over a wide-ranging career that spans album cover art direction, filmmaking, photography, and being Lenny Kravitz’s personal creative director, Bitton’s creative catalyst has always been deeply rooted in African-American culture, which may seem strange given the fact that Bitton is neither American nor black. His obsession started as a kid in Paris avidly collecting blaxploitation movie posters and an assortment of R&B, jazz, soul, and funk albums. Far from being some fleeting phase, Bitton’s compendium of black music, art, and beyond has grown as wide as his appreciation has deepened. Yet, he’s still at a loss for words to explain why his Los Angeles home has become a physical embodiment black culture. Mathieu Bitton[Photo: Steffen Keil] “It’s hard to answer only because I don’t know if I’ve completely figured it out except for that it’s the art that moves me the most,” Bitton says. “I think it’s just beauty. The best answer I can give you is that it’s all so beautiful.” Bitton has curated the beauty he’s captured over the years into his Leica exhibition Darker Than Blue. Taken from Curtis Mayfield’s song “We People Who Are Darker Than Blue,” Bitton’s intimate collection is a celebration of black communities. “Looking at the political climate, I needed to contribute something and not just ‘Look at this cool photo of a rock star or this beautiful Russian model on a bed smoking a cigarette,’” Bitton says. “I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, but I felt like with the political climate, I had to do something that would evoke a reaction–that somebody would look at and wouldn’t just say, ‘She’s hot–nice boobs.’ I needed to go a little deeper than that.” In order to go deeper within black communities, Bitton had to reconcile with the fact that A) some people just don’t want their photo taken and/or B) they don’t trust a white man taking it. In the past, Bitton has been punched in the shoulder and had a sandwich hurled at him for taking unsolicited photos. He doesn’t use what people don’t consent to. However, he’s found that more times than not, having a simple conversation with someone tears down any hesitation and has allowed for some of his most compelling work. Take, for example, his photo “Mickey and Friends” from Darker Than Blue that depicts two young Brooklyn girls with their grandmother. After getting an unspoken nod of approval from the grandmother, Bitton began snapping a few photos when the girl in the Mickey Mouse T-shirt asked, “Why do you want to take my picture? I’m so ugly.” Mickey And Friends “And I was like, ‘What are you talking about? You’re so beautiful. That’s what stopped me in my tracks was how beautiful this moment is and how iconic you look,’” Bitton replied. “Then she started telling me how people bullied her in school because she’s overweight and then all of a sudden we had this whole conversation. I was telling her that I photograph rock stars and legends and that she was the most interesting subject I shot on that trip.” Through his career across album design and photography, Bitton has gone past being just a collector to contributing to the legacies of the artists he admires most, including Prince, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, and Marvin Gaye. But he doesn’t hesitate to say that Darker Than Blue is some of his most personal work to-date. He’s shifting his lens from the biggest names in entertainment to the overlooked and unsung in a way that do[...]


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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 And S8+ Smartphones: My First 14 Impressions And Questions

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

In 2015, Samsung released the Galaxy S6, a phone that was mostly about refinement. It upped the company’s industrial-design chops, rolled back its previous tendency to add bloat to the Android operating system, and ensured that the phone’s camera was among the best the smartphone world had to offer. Samsung followed that phone up with 2016’s Galaxy S7, which refined the S6’s refinements. Today Samsung is launching the Galaxy S8 and S8+ (both of which already got leaked in detail) at an event in New York, along with new versions of its Gear VR virtual-reality headset and Gear 360 camera. Instead of piling more refinements on top of refinements of refinements, these new models move onto new challenges, from upsizing their display sizes in a manageable fashion to melding AI, voice control, and machine vision into an experience designed to set the phones apart from Android rivals and iPhones. I recently attended a preview event that included a briefing by Samsung executives and some hands-on time with the phones. What I got wasn’t enough to form any definitive conclusions about the phones, in part because one of the most important new features–the Bixby voice assistant–wasn’t enabled on the units I got to try. But I did come away with some first impressions, along with questions that will take a while to answer: A Few Impressions 1. These screens are tall. One of the most obvious things about the Galaxy S8 and S8+–which are essentially the same phone in two sizes–is that they’ve got big displays. At 5.8″ and 6.2″, respectively, they provide more real estate than the Galaxy S7, the S7 Edge, the iPhone 7, and the iPhone 7 Plus. Samsung didn’t accomplish this just by building upscaled successors to the S7—a move that would have made for phones that felt uncomfortably ginormous in the hand. Instead, it brought the screens up to the left and right edges of the phone (as with its Edge models) and then stretched them vertically, eliminating as much of the phones’ “foreheads” and “chins” as possible. The resulting tall-boy design is an obvious departure from Samsung phones past, and–judging from the limited time I’ve had with the new phones–a pleasing one. It reminds me of Apple’s iPhone 5, which also upsized its display through vertical stretching. 2. The spacious screens don’t impinge on, um, holdability. The S8 is actually slightly narrower than the smaller-screened S7, making it easier to grip; the S8+ is narrower than the iPhone 7 Plus, despite having more display space. They’re big phones, but not monsters. (People with dainty hands might strain to use these phones in one-handed mode, but that can be an issue with almost any modern phone.) 3. Tall screens make for tall apps. The preinstalled apps I got to try looked good at the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Samsung has optimized its own apps and added settings for apps such as Chrome that let them fill out the available space. Just how well third-party apps will adjust, I’ll be interested to see. I’m particularly curious what these screens mean for games, some of which are hard-coded for particular aspect ratios. VIDEO: Samsung Unveils Its Latest Galaxy Phone Post-Battery Disaster 4. You can also choose to look at these phones as having really wide screens. Which they do, when you hold them in landscape orientation, as you’d do to watch a movie. The videos I sampled felt unusually immersive, both because of the screen width and because the display covers almost the entire face of the phones. 5. No conventional home button is no great loss. The S8 and S8+’s skyscraper screens leave no room for the home button/fingerprint scanner on previous Galaxy models. The scanner is now on the phone’s backside—a location I find slig[...]


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New High-Res Oculus Home For Gear VR Boosts The Mobile Experience

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Until not that long ago, there were two big differences between high-end consumer virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and mobile systems like Samsung’s Gear VR—only the (much) more expensive headsets offered crisp, clear graphics and incorporated users’ hands. That meant that the more costly systems offered a richer VR experience–everything from wielding a lightsaber to grabbing a ladder as you ascend an icy face on Mount Everest to controlling where you go in Google Earth VR. With mobile systems, the best interaction possible was looking at something and tapping a pad on the side of the headset to indicate a choice. That changed last fall with the introduction of Google’s $79 Daydream View, which comes with a wireless handheld controller that allows users to point and click all kinds of things and directly interact with their VR experiences, although still not as rich an experience as on a Rift or Vive. Now, Samsung’s latest-generation Gear VR, the release of which is timed to the launch of the Korean tech giant’s new Galaxy S8 phone, joins the party when it hits shelves on April 21. For $129, buyers can get a new Gear VR and a controller, while owners of previous-generations of Samsung’s VR headset can get their hands on the controller, which is backward compatible–useful, given that Samsung has sold 5 million Gear VRs–for $39. They can also buy a second-generation Gear 360 camera, which is smaller and more efficient (and shoots 4K video) than the first version. Samsung has not yet disclosed what the new camera will cost. Oculus Rooms No one should mistake what’s possible with single controllers for mobile VR with that of high-end systems, which utilize dual handheld peripherals in positionally tracked experiences in which users can move around and do sophisticated things like paint or sculpt in three dimensions. Still, being able to incorporate even one hand is a big step forward. As it has throughout the history of the Gear VR, Samsung turned to Facebook-owned Oculus to develop the headset’s (and now controller’s) operating system and software. The controller offers many of the same functions as that of the Daydream View–a touchpad, a home button, volume keys–and adds a back button and most important, a trigger that opens up many content possibilities for developers, from gripping and grabbing to holding to shooting. Oculus’s head of mobile product, Max Cohen, says that there will be 20 Gear VR titles available at launch that were designed specifically with the new controller in mind, and another 50 coming in the next couple of months. But the controller will also work with all 700 existing Gear VR apps, essentially taking the place of the touchpad on the side of the headset. Oculus also wanted to make the Gear VR user experience better in other ways, and it’s done so in a few key ways. Mobile Avatar Editor First, it has scrapped the existing Oculus Home experience and built a new one from the ground up. The result? Users will be in VR within 2.5 seconds of popping their phone into the device–as much as three times faster than in previous generations. And once within Oculus Home–the launchpad for all content on the Gear VR–they’ll see much sharper and crisper visuals than before. It’s akin to improving from standard-definition resolution to high-definition, Cohen says. Unfortunately, those improved graphics won’t automatically extend to third-party VR content. However, Cohen explaind, developers will be able to create new content that has similarly improved resolution, though such content would likely consume more battery power than it would otherwise. The new Oculus Home also features an in-line browser that will allow users to surf the web without taking off their headse[...]


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Samsung Galaxy S8 Vs. Google Pixel: Which Ad Framed It Better?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:53:00 GMT

The Galaxy S8 is set to be perhaps Samsung’s biggest product release of the year, so it should come as a surprise to no one that the brand will have a major global marketing campaign for its latest and greatest. We found a sneak peek of it in this new, five-second “Unbox Your Phone” spot.

Butterflies, trees, birds chirping. Cool.

But there was something else. Something… familiar.

That outline. Using the shape of the device as a frame through which to view the world was the star of an ad campaign last fall for Google’s Pixel phone. The outline of the device was key to helping people make the connection between the search giant’s iconic search bar and the new Pixel phone, Google’s ad agency Droga5 told me.

“The most recognized connection to Google is the search bar,” Droga5 executive creative director Kevin Brady said at the time. “Sure, they have done so many other amazing things, but this one shape is the clearest and simplest symbol of all the smarts of Google. Once we realized that, and of course noticed that the shape of our phone was also a rectangle, but a very different shape, we had our campaign.”

Obviously we have no idea just how prominent the Samsung phone frame will be in the rest of the upcoming campaign. And of course it looks completely different, and is shown in a different context than the Pixel shape. Maybe it’ll just be like a visual tagline. Barely a blip on the screen.

But still, weird right?

UPDATE: The full Galaxy S8 launch ad, by agency Leo Burnett Chicago, has been released and… that familiar shape isn’t just a blip on the screen.

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Carl’s Jr.’s New Ad Strategy Is Ditching The Boobs To Concentrate On The Food

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:23:00 GMT

It’s almost become synonymous with the brand. Remember the Paris Hilton ad from 2005? Or Kate Upton? How about Sara Underwood and Emily Ratajkowski? Hannah Ferguson? You get the idea. When you think of Carl’s Jr. advertising over the past decade, the babes outshine the burgers. Now the brand wants to change that. In its newest brand campaign, by agency 72andSunny, Carl’s Jr. is explicitly transparent about the shift, with Carl Hardee Sr. returning to run the company after letting Carl Jr. sow his wild ad oats for long enough. Of course, Carl Hardee Sr. isn’t a real person–an amalgamation of original founders Carl Karcher and Wilbur Hardee–but the point is clear: The grown-ups are running the brand again. Why? In a market where players like Shake Shack and Five Guys are seen as “better burger” joints, Carls’ Jr. wanted to take the focus away from the bikinis and back on the burger that made the company succeed in the first place. Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of Carl’s Jr parent company CKE Restaurants says that there were some significant facts being lost on consumers too mesmerized by the…uh, presentation. His assignment to 72andSunny was to find a way to fix that. “While the ‘bikinis and burgers’ approach did a lot to make eating fast-food burger seem sexy–which was a tall order–we needed an advertising vehicle that could allow us to tell our very compelling, but more rational, food quality story in an entertaining way,” says Haley. “The creative brief was to find a way to more directly and consistently communicate the food quality story that we have, but for which we weren’t getting credit.” That includes things like using 100% Black Angus beef and grass-fed, all-natural beef in their burgers, using all-natural chicken breast fillets with no antibiotics ever, making biscuits from scratch every morning, hand-breading chicken tenders, and hand-scooping the ice cream shakes. “Those are things that no other QSR chain does, collectively, and few other restaurants of any kind do,” says Haley. 72andSunny executive creative director and partner Jason Norcross says that while the marketing has been provocative , created a fair amount of controversy, and drove sales for Carl’s Jr.’s business for a long time, lately it wasn’t working as well. The brand needed to move on and do something to better reflect its ambitions. And in pivoting to a new tone, the agency thought that acknowledging the past in a fun, self-aware way (read: The ad still has its share of half-naked women) could help bring some energy and attitude to the campaign. And Carl Jr isn’t the only one being replaced at the company. CKE will be appointing a new CEO to replace Andy Puzder, who signed off on the campaign before his bid to become President Trump’s Labor Secretary failed. “Controversial marketing worked for CKE’s business for a long time, but ultimately the girls and boobs were overshadowing the product,” says Norcross, whose agency also redesigned the fast feeder’s packaging, in-store menus, employee uniforms, and company logo. “Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s weren’t getting credit for their food. Plus, when we spoke to customers, primarily young guys, their attitude was, ‘Yep, got it. Girls. Seen it before. What do girls have to do with you guys again?’ So you could say this is part of a larger trend of people being more interested in what brands are all about. But really, I think it is more about the advertising growing stale. It became familiar, which, on top of it all, distracted from the products.” [...]


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After 18 Years, Explosions In The Sky Just Accomplished A Rare Feat: A Music Video

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:00:00 GMT

Somehow over the course of their 18 years as a band, Explosions in the Sky has skated clean past the standard practice of regularly releasing music videos. To be fair, the band has dabbled here and there with giving some of their tracks visual treatments. However, it’s become a rare sighting of Sasquatch proportions for there to be a traditional music video in even the broadest sense of the term–part of the reason being that all of their music is instrumental. “Our music has always been described as cinematic or visual, so maybe there was part of us that felt like it’s better to have people imagine their own visuals to play throughout the songs,” says Explosions in the Sky drummer Chris Hrasky. “The music is very much open to whatever the listener wants to interpret it as.” Explosions In The Sky[Photo: Nick Simonite] When their seventh album The Wilderness dropped last year, the band tossed around the idea of breaking their visual fast with something a little more orthodox for their single “The Ecstatics.” Yet according to Hrasky, the pitches they received from directors all felt like commercials. “A lot of them were like, ‘[the video] opens with a beautiful landscape and then a a beautiful woman is walking through a field,’” Hrasky recalls. “What was being offered to us were these bland narratives that didn’t really appeal to us at all. We didn’t have a very specific vision–we just knew we wanted something that was interesting and unique.” As vague as that sounds, the band’s manager turned the guys onto stop-motion animation director Hayley Morris, whose previous credits include client work for Samsung, Burt’s Bees, and Kate Spade, and music videos for Iron & Wine and Pure Bathing Culture. Morris’s only real guideline from the Explosions in the Sky guys was to create something within the context of the phrase “wilderness of the mind.” “I immediately thought of the beautiful chaos that is in the mind space and how that space has a multitude of transitions, whether it’s a transition from life to death or going from unknowing to knowing,” Morris says. “Their music really lends itself to that. When you listen to it, you kind of just float into this other space.” Unburdened by the constraints of lyrics, Morris’s turned a stop-motion clip that combines paper, translucent materials, hand-blown glass, and projections into an abstract odyssey into the nether regions of the mind. “It was hard to imagine exactly what this was going to end up looking like from the way she described it, but it sounded very different than pretty much everything else that was pitched to us,” Hrasky says. “ We didn’t have a very clear or specific vision other than we wanted someone who did have a clear and specific vision to do it.” And Morris’s vision involved marrying something so tactile as stop-motion animation to Explosions in the Sky’s visceral opuses. “When you listen to their music, you can feel the vibration of the guitar and the drums–it’s a very human experience. And stop-motion is a very human art form. Everything you see on the screen was handcrafted–I’m actually touching every single image and making it move,” Morris says. “Everything is so steeped in technological innovation these days I just feel like getting back to making handmade images and pushing what that could be. It’s important for me to keep that alive.” Watch How The Stop-Motion World Of “The Ecstatics” Came Together [...]


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How Neuroscience Might Help The San Francisco Giants Win The World Series

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:00:00 GMT

The next time a San Francisco Giant hits a game-winning home run or turns a great double play to end a rival’s rally, you may be able to thank neuroscience. Today, Halo Neuroscience, a San Francisco startup that’s developed a device aimed at boosting the performance of athletes, announced it has officially been helping the Giants get the most out of its players. [Photos: courtesy of Halo Neuroscience] The device, the Halo Sport, stimulates the brain’s motor cortex, energizing motor neurons, which then send athletes’ muscles stronger signals, allowing them to get more powerful and efficient with every training rep. The Halo Sport, which looks almost exactly like a pair of headphones, isn’t new. But Halo hasn’t previously revealed much about its partnerships with any professional sports franchises, especially not ones that have progressed beyond the experimental stage. The Giants, with their proximity to Silicon Valley, are exposed to lots of “intriguing technology that could be used to improve athletic performance, says Geoff Head, the team’s sports scientist. But before jumping at any of that tech, the three-time World Series champions “like to do our homework.” Austin Slater warming up. Last season, Head says, the Giants conducted a two-week trial involving 18 top minor league prospects at the team’s off-season conditioning camp. The idea, he explains, was to give nine of the players Halo Sports and compare the results of their training and workouts with nine players who didn’t get the devices but went through the exact same conditioning. Afterwards, he says, the team “found there to be significant-enough improvement results in the Halo group compared to the control group to where it opened up our eyes” to the device’s value. To be sure, the improvements were small–on the order of 1% to 2%. “But with these athletes at the major league level,” Head says, “that’s sometimes enough to be the difference between winning and losing.” Based on those trials, the Giants signed a formal partnership with Halo Neuroscience and have been utilizing the startup’s devices during the current spring training at both the major league level and for players at four different levels of the minor leagues. According to Head, Halo cofounder Daniel Chao had explained that the peak benefit of the company’s device comes in the 60-to-90-minute window after wearing it, a data point that matched what the team had learned from its in-house study. “The greatest improvements we found in the players in the [test] group,” he says, “were the skills work we were doing when they were wearing the Halo headset. As soon as they players took off the headsets . . . we would get into some advanced mobility work–trying to learn new postures,” speed drills, and so on. Asked why players didn’t just wear their Halo headsets all day, Head says it’s simply a matter of diminishing returns. When wearing the Halo Sport, the areas you work on receive a higher level of stimulation. “If you constantly stimulate over the course of a day,” he explains, “you’re definitely not going to get as much bang for your buck. It’s like working out all day. You would get the best results in the first part of the day.” The key for the Giants, as the team seeks to get the most from its use of the Halo Sport, is to figure out which skill set each individual player needs the most work on and have them wear the headset immediately prior to doing that work. So, for example, if a pitcher is trying to work on changing the arm angle at which he throws, he would want to wear [...]


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With “Icons,” Legion M Is Creating Pop-Culture Time Capsules And Pushing VR’s Limits

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 GMT

A tangle of cables slithers from a monitoring station in the garage of a house atop Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, up a narrow staircase brimming with artifacts and tchotchkes from an adventured life, and into a room overtaken by stereoscopic cameras, ambisonic sound equipment, and GoPro arrays. The focus of all this technology: 94-year-old comic legend Stan Lee—co-creator of the Marvel Universe including Spider-Man, The X Men, and Iron Man, among numerous others—and his interviewer, director, and professional fanboy Kevin Smith, discussing Lee’s life, career, and marriage in an intimate setting at Lee’s home. Kevin Smith and Stan Lee[Photos: Adam Kent, courtesy of Legion M] It’s the first step in a journey of firsts. The inaugural shoot of Icons: Face to Face, the first project from Legion M, the first that raises money through equity crowdfunding and gives contributors creative input and profit sharing. It’s also the first use of a new configuration of virtual reality technology that captures its subjects at a fidelity never before used in VR. In fact, no VR headgear—or movie projector display for that matter—exists yet to play back the footage in its fullest level of detail. But it’s likely to in the future, which is the point of this project. “We had an idea for an intimate interview with iconic people from today’s pop culture and entertainment, maybe doing new Icons every month,” says Legion M cofounder and president Jeff Annison. “But we want it to be able to stand the test of time, not just culturally, but technologically, to survive as a historical record. Most VR footage today is disposable. We wanted something that could keep up with advancements in state of the art.” Their vision required hurdling two crucial technical challenges: placing the camera closer to its subjects than previously attempted in VR without optical distortion or destroying the three-dimensional perception, and recording at a resolution that abuts the edge of human perception. “This is a pioneering effort in VR,” says Annison. While high-profile individuals have been interviewed in this format in the past, “no one has shot them as close and in the resolution as we have.” Launched last March, Legion M opened its doors to non-accredited investors last summer, subsequently raising $1.2 million, part of which has gone toward stakes in such projects as the upcoming films Colossal (releasing April 7) and The Field Guide to Evil, and the digital TV series Pitch Elevator. It recently opened a second investing round that will allow it to raise up to $50 million (you can buy stock here). The Icons pilot is Legion’s first solely produced endeavor, though the company hopes to find producing partners for a subsequent series. Kevin Smith[Photos: Adam Kent, courtesy of Legion M] Idea-Driven Technology The Icons experiment was a case of an interview driving the technology. The idea began germinating last summer when Legion M’s Annison, cofounder/CEO Paul Scanlan, content acquisition head Terri Lubaroff, and content development head David Baxter began talking to VR companies about creating a more intimate viewing experience than had previously been done—enabling viewers to feel as though they were sitting with prominent individuals as they talked about their lives, dreams, regrets, what drives them, and visions for the future—and ensuring the footage’s adaptability to future display methods. But it didn’t begin to coalesce until they found a prominent individual who didn’t mind being a guinea pig in a grand technological experiment. “We had this idea of trying to put you in [...]


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In Its New Factory, Impossible Foods Will Make 12 Million Pounds Of Plant-Based Burgers A Year

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT

Inside a former baked-goods factory near the Oakland airport, a construction crew is installing giant vats that will soon be used to scale up production of the Impossible Burger–a plant-based meat designed to look and taste good enough that meat eaters will want to order it, not vegetarians. The “meat,” developed by a team led by former Stanford biochemistry professor Patrick Brown, is currently being produced in a 10,000-square-foot pilot facility in Silicon Valley and a 1,500-square foot space in New Jersey. The new facility, at around 60,000 square feet, will dramatically scale up production capacity. When the factory is fully ramped up, it will be able to produce at least 1 million pounds of Impossible Burger meat a month, or 250 times more than today. Photo: courtesy Impossible Foods “It will enable us to go from something that is scarce–and we’re constantly getting complaints from customers about the fact that they can’t buy them at their local restaurant–and start to make it ubiquitous,” Brown said at an event launching the new factory. The burger is currently available at 11 restaurants, including 3 that launched it on March 23. But by the end of the year, the company expects to supply 1,000 restaurants. It just signed a deal to have the burgers featured in the San Francisco Giant’s baseball stadium. Photo: courtesy Impossible Foods For the company, achieving scale is a critical part of achieving its mission. Brown started working on the project while thinking about the problem of climate change; raising cows and other animals for meat is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases. It also uses and pollutes more water than any other industry, and drives deforestation. But he realized that the majority of the world wouldn’t voluntarily go vegetarian for those reasons. “Billions of people around the world who love meat are not going to stop demanding it, so we just have to find a better way to produce it,” he says. Photo: courtesy Impossible Foods The team studied the properties of meat–particularly heme, the molecule that makes blood red and gives meat a meaty taste–and then experimented with recreating those properties using only ingredients from plants. “When you think about meat, there’s the muscle, there’s the connective tissue, there’s the fat, so we had to figure out how to mimic those parts of beef to figure out how to experience the texture, but also the taste,” Don DeMasi, senior vice president of engineering for Impossible Foods, tells Fast Company. The result looks like it was made from a cow, not plants. The handful of chefs who were given first access to the product say they think of it as meat. “It kind of made this transition in my mind to be–it’s just another kind of meat,” says chef Traci Des Jardins, who has been serving Impossible burgers at her San Francisco restaurant Jardinière for about a year, and now is also serving it at Public House, her restaurant at the city’s ballpark. Photo: courtesy Impossible Foods Before it’s cooked, the product is red like raw beef; as it cooks, it browns. As the heme mixes with juices and oozes out, it can look like it’s bleeding. “You’re seeing the exact same cooking chemistry that you see in meat, literally,” says Brown. As the company scales up its beef alternative, it will focus on restaurants. In a year, it says, U.S. restaurants serve more than 5 billion pounds of burgers, and Impossible wants its 12 million pounds to be among them. Retail will come later, along with other products that are c[...]


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This Tech Platform Is The Backbone Of The Anti-Trump Organizing Efforts

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT

When the first People’s Climate March took to the New York City streets in September 2014, it was billed as the “largest climate march in history.” At the time, it was: A crowd of up to 400,000 rallied in protest of international inaction on global warming, and sent a clear message to the world leaders gathering just days later for the United Nations summit on climate change. The march, national coordinator Paul Getsos tells Fast Company, was a success: It united a broad coalition of movements and advocacy groups into a cohesive event. But it wasn’t perfect. “I wish that the end of the march event was stronger,” Getsos says. “And I wish that we had a plan to keep our structures in place.” This year, when the People’s Climate March descends on Washington, D.C., on April 29, it will have such a plan in place. The march organizers are making use of a tech platform, called the Action Network, which offers tools like mass email coordinating, event mapping and planning, and petition creating to progressive movements. Despite the fact that few people have heard of it, the platform is quickly becoming the technological backbone of the anti-Trump resistance. Organizers behind the Women’s March and the Indivisible Guide have used the Action Network to coordinate movements that have far exceeded expectations in terms of breadth, participation, and longevity. As more pockets of resistance coalesce and mobilize, the Action Network is poised to support them. Photo: Vlad Tchompalov via Unsplash Unlike Facebook, which was the primary organizing tool for the first People’s Climate March, the Action Network saves the names, emails, and other data collected from people who register for events through the platform, making it easier for organizers to stay in touch with interested constituents and keep momentum strong in the aftermath of an event. In a way, leaning on email as opposed to social media may seem like a step backward, but when it comes to mass organizing, the ephemerality of social platforms like Twitter and Facebook is antithetical to the sustained involvement that progressive movements are hoping to foster. The Action Network was cofounded in 2012 by Brian Young, who had previously worked on John Kerry’s digital campaign. “At the time, campaign structures were really out of date,” Young tells Fast Company. “They had one owner, who oversaw the website and the email list; any action had to be collectively decided and enacted by this one campaign owner. It wasn’t up to the speed and scale of the 21st century.” Young envisioned a digital campaign platform that could be collaborative, flexible, and responsive–something that would be structured and organized at the national level, but still allow for hyperlocal organizing, ironically inspired by the way the U.S.’s own federated government is supposed to work. The Action Network was the result. The platform, set up as a nonprofit, is specifically dedicated to supporting progressive movements; it was developed during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which is a point of frustration for Young, who believes that had the Action Network been available at the start of the movement, it could have kept Occupy active for longer. “They had a lot of events, they got a lot of attention for around two months, but then it just kind of faded,” Young says. “A platform like ours could have really kept it alive.” Photo: Roya Ann Miller via Unsplash Perhaps the best way to understand the Action Network is as a digital family tree for progressive movements. On the platform, organ[...]


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This Is How To Get Hired At Facebook

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:43:00 GMT

It’s no surprise that a lot of people dream of landing a job at Facebook. The social network’s massive reach means employees get to work on something that potentially affects billions of people. The company has also consistently placed high on the rankings of best places to work for offering career advancement, good benefits, and a positive culture. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also earned a 95% approval rating from his staff. But how, exactly, does one land a coveted spot at Facebook? It’s not easy to make the cut, but there is one thing their hires all have in common: “A penchant for action,” according to Vijaye Raji, engineering director and site lead for the Seattle office. Their values must align with values of the company, he says. “We are looking for makers who are bold, move fast, and get stuff done,” says Raji. Once an applicant is selected, it’s typical for them to go through several rounds of interviewing, progressing from a phone or Skype call, to in-person rounds starting with Facebook’s recruiters and leading up to department heads. Next to its Menlo Park, California, headquarters, Seattle is Facebook’s largest and fastest growing location. Together Raji (Facebook employee No. 15) and Melissa Nixon, Facebook’s recruiting director in Seattle, have interviewed scores of hopeful candidates. Here are some of their tips for standing out and scoring the job. Go Ahead, Be Nervous Nixon says feeling nervous is natural, and she’s a believer in leaning in to it. “Nerves and excitement feel the same,” she points out. Admitting that you’re nervous to the interviewer is a good way to push through it, she explains. “It’s a pretty friendly group,” Nixon explains, particularly because everyone hopes they’re someone you get to work with in the future. Practice, Practice, Practice It’s not only the way to get to Carnegie Hall, it’s the way to ace interviews, according to both Nixon and Raji. Preparing yourself mentally can help build confidence, says Raji, so it helps to do mock interviews with friends. At Facebook, all the engineers are required to code on a whiteboard during their interviews. Although this sounds kind of terrifying, Raji says that it’s become familiar territory to anyone doing a technical interview. “We don’t expect you to know 15 programming languages,” Raji contends, but you do need to have basic computer science down pat. For example, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of how an algorithm works rather than memorizing a bunch of different ones. Raji suggests picking one language and getting really comfortable with that through practice. A misstep he often sees is when engineers try to reimplement everything they know, which reduces the amount of time they have to solve the problem. Other ways to practice working through problems in real time are by participating in contests or hackathons, says Raji. Thinking Out Loud An often overlooked but valuable part of the interview process from the recruiter’s and hiring manager’s perspective is when a candidate is able to think through their responses out loud. At the whiteboard, this is especially true. “We understand you’re not going to come up with the most awesome solution in one shot,” Raji explains. He suggests writing an answer first, then iterate on it. “This is something we love,” he underscores. “Test it, and say how you can improve what you just wrote.” “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes,” Nixon adds. [...]


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How Asana Built The Best Company Culture In Tech

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:37:00 GMT

Tech culture has the reputation for long hours, intense competition, and little time for reflection. But Asana, a workplace-productivity management company founded by former Facebookers and Googlers, couldn’t be further from this stereotype. The company is built on the idea that mindfulness, clear communication, and compassion are all critical to long-term success. Asana has become known for its radically inclusive, positive work environment. This approach has paid off. Asana received a rare perfect rating on Glassdoor and a spot on Glassdoor’s Top 10 Best Places to Work in 2017. The company was also named one of Entrepreneur magazine’s best workplace cultures of 2017. For founders Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, this was the goal from the start. When the two former Facebook engineers sat down to build their new company in 2008, they drafted two things before anything else: Asana’s codebase and the company’s core values. The values included things like healthy work-life balance, inclusiveness, embracing mindfulness and equanimity, taking responsibility, and always communicating openly and honestly. But while countless startups dream of an open atmosphere full of collaboration, that type of environment is extremely challenging to implement. For too many businesses, culture becomes viewed as something that will form naturally with enough free lunches and ping-pong tables. Moskovitz and Rosenstein quickly understood that if they were going to realize their vision for a better workplace, they would have to take a more active approach. “We decided to treat culture as a product,” Rosenstein says. He explained that instead of looking at culture as something that “just happens,” he and his cofounder realized that culture was actually something that needed to be carefully designed, tested, debugged, and iterated on, like any other product they released. This means that representatives from all areas of the company meet regularly to reassess Asana’s values and design new ways to incorporate those values into every process at the company. Once a new process is “shipped,” an intense period of user feedback begins. “We actively survey people anonymously, and during one-on-ones, we ask what’s working well and what isn’t working well. Based on that information, we go back to the company and say, here’s what we heard, and here’s what we’re doing to do about it,” says Rosenstein. In fact, every quarter, the entire company takes a full week off from business to road map corporate goals for the future. Many of these goals are business-related, but culture-related reflection is heavily encouraged. When problems are brought to the table, Rosenstein says that management is quick to address the issues. Asana even has a name for these issues–“culture bugs”–and it seeks to squash them as quickly as bugs in the codebase of any other product. For instance, at one point the issue of “false empowerment” was raised. Asana is structured in a way to give many junior employees a great deal of ownership over decisions related to their projects. However, some younger employees felt that more senior employees were negating their decisions. Asana restructured the way responsibility was scoped among teams in order to make sure that no junior employees felt falsely empowered (i.e., their decisions would no longer likely get overturned by a more senior manager). Rosenstein says he recognizes that a large part of culture is also cultivating a diverse and open-minded wo[...]


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How These Seven Tech Leaders Are Tackling Diversity In 2017

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Over the last few years, diversity has inched perilously toward buzzword status. Tech companies have taken to talking loudly and frequently about it since 2014 in particular, when Google became the first to make its diversity stats public. In the Trump era, championing diversity has arguably become more commodified than ever, as brands infuse their marketing and messaging with their politics—emphasizing their support for women, immigrants, and minorities. So I wasn’t surprised that in conversations with several CEOs and execs, many were quick to cite diversity as something their companies care deeply about. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into action—or cold, hard numbers. As the federal government has begun to target individuals on the basis of religion, national origin, and gender identity, businesses are increasingly under pressure to take tangible steps to boost representation in their workplaces and protect their employees from discrimination. These are a few ways tech leaders say they’re working to accomplish that. Running The Numbers (And Sometimes Even Sharing Them) TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot takes seriously the precedent tech companies set a few years ago on transparency. Last year, the freelance errand-runner marketplace published its demographic targets for 2016, raising African-American representation from 11% to 13%, for example, and offering internships geared toward African-Americans. Many [tech execs] cite diversity as something their companies care deeply about. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into action. In addition to partnering this year with hiring startups like Blendoor and Jopwell, TaskRabbit is also analyzing the demographics of its Tasker community, with the goal of “ensuring that it reflects the nation’s population and the communities that we serve,” Brown-Philpot says. The company wants not just to build a diverse full-time workforce, but an equally diverse community of Taskers on the platform. Stacy Brown-Philpot Not every company has answered the call to release hard data just yet, and some of the early momentum to do so since 2014 has flagged. Aaron Levie, CEO of the file-sharing platform Box, says his company looks “pretty similar to the Googles of the world, so we’re relatively average on a lot of our statistics.” When Box releases a diversity report later this year (it’s tentatively aiming for June), it will be the company’s first. Warby Parker, too, plans to share its diversity stats publicly this year. That puts them ahead of many other tech companies, many of which either haven’t put forth internal data at all or are subtly tempering the value they claim to see in doing so. Snap similarly claims it cares about these issues but has yet to share numbers that prove it, while Uber published its first diversity report on Monday after weeks of bad press. Companies like Twitter and Pinterest, which both delayed the release of new data last December in order to retool their approaches, suggested that just releasing data isn’t enough. Levie agrees. Like those other firms, he says Box’s main focus is on “making sure that we have working programs in place and things that we’ve been able to drive real activity around.” One of those programs is a new fellowship for minority college students to spend a week at Box’s headquarters to learn about business roles at tech companies. To Levie, efforts like these are more important than “just putting out another release that s[...]


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How To Turn Your Internship Into Full-Time Work—Including At Another Company

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Wouldn’t it be nice if your job search started and stopped with the company you’re already interning for? Sometimes, it happens. If there’s a role available, and the position and company are a good fit, you could find yourself sitting behind the same desk you’re at now after graduation. But while the internship-to-job track is no guarantee, those hours spent getting professional experience can help you find gainful employment. In fact, a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 51.7% of students who’d had an internship received at least one job offer compared with 33.8% of those with no internship experience. So we asked career service professionals to share advice for making the most of your internship—whether you hope to continue working at that company, or want to use it to springboard into another post-college full-time job. If you think you might want to work at the company where you’re interning, here’s what to do: Pick The Right Time To Express Your Interest Turns out, there’s a sweet spot when it comes to talking with internship supervisors about future work at the company. “Seniors should probably request a meeting with their supervisor toward the end of the semester,” says Thomas Ward from Adelphi University in New York. “Even if you are a star, students sometimes jump the gun by approaching their supervisor prematurely or too early into their tenure.” He agrees that it’s a balance, because you don’t want to wait too long before expressing interest. But, “in most instances, there is a lead time that organizations need to transition interns into full-time employees.” Immerse Yourself In The Company As an intern, you’ve got a foot in the door and a leg up on the competition. So use it to get exposure to decision-makers and show what you can do for the company. As an intern, you’ve got a foot in the door and a leg up on the competition “Attend as many professional gatherings and staff-type meetings as possible,” suggests Lisa Gavigan of Wheaton College in Massachusetts, “and speak with the organization’s clients when appropriate.” “Not only will you learn a great deal about the organization, which will serve you well when drafting a cover letter and participating in interviews,” she says, “but you’ll also be better able to determine if this is, in fact, the best next step for your career development.” Find Out Everything You Can From Your Coworkers Interns have another advantage over other job seekers because they can get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work for the company, as well as what kind of candidate the company is looking to hire. All you have to do is ask. More From Monster: Should You Work Two Jobs When You’re First Starting Out? How To Avoid Taking An Entry-Level Position As Your First Job 5 Bad Habits You Need To Break Before Starting A Full-Time Job “Interns should reach out to both entry-level staff and supervisors for informational interviews,” says Vickie Cox-Lanyon from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. “You should come to the meeting prepared with specific questions about the individual’s background, career choices, and goals that go beyond what you can read on a social media profile,” says Cox-Lanyon. “At some point in the conversation, the interviewer will likely ask about your interests. That[...]


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Three Reliable Leadership Lessons I Keep Going Back To In Uncertain Times

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Remember back when “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) only really applied to companies? Those were the days, huh? Lately, with geopolitical discord abroad, political tensions here at home in the U.S., and all manner of policy shifts that could impact U.S. businesses, plenty of entrepreneurs may be wishing for steadier leadership. I know I am. In good times and bad, I remind myself that holding onto negative emotions won’t help–it’ll just chase away potential collaborators, mentors, partners, and others. Once reserved for boardrooms and managerial scenarios, it feels as though VUCA is becoming something of a new normal, impacting leaders and organizations of all sizes, pretty much everywhere. In the opening weeks of Trump’s presidency, the Washington Post‘s Jena MacGregor reported, “Many human resources consultants say the flood of change and news is taking up much more of workers’ energy and focus than in past presidential transitions.” And since the news cycle hasn’t exactly settled down since then, we may just have to get comfortable with that. We’re now living and operating in a very different world than the one that existed just a year ago. No one really knows what’s coming around the next corner, we’re all operating on uneven footing. Still, business leaders’ jobs haven’t fundamentally changed–we still need to spark creativity, drive innovation, and ensure sustainability. So lately I’ve tried to remind myself that while I can’t predict the future, I can make sure I’m prepared to live in it, make sense of it, and navigate whatever upheavals arise as strategically as possible. And to do that, I keep going back to these three tried-and-true lessons. 1. Your Attitude Either Attracts Support Or Repels It Emotions are a natural part of being human, and controlling them doesn’t mean becoming an android. But how well we manage what we’re feeling affects not just our own performance but also our interactions with others. That may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook during times of uncertainty. There’s lots of leadership advice for dealing with self-doubt and anxiety over your own capabilities, but what about pessimism regarding the world out there–the things you can’t control? I’ve found that whenever I’m concentrating on what’s wrong with things happening around me, I’m more liable to fixate on what I find lacking. It takes a real effort to keep thinking positively when this happens. But personally, I’ve found using affirmations to be helpful for keeping my own objectives in view and coping with things I can’t change. I try to remind myself what I can change–and for the better. I refocus on my immediate sphere of influence, reminding myself that no matter what happens, I still need to work with others to reach our goals. In good times and bad, I remind myself that holding onto negative emotions won’t help–it’ll just chase away potential collaborators, mentors, partners, and others. This takes effort, practice, and patience, but it’s crucial to cultivating an attitude that attracts support rather than repels it–especially when that’s hard to do. 2. Empathy Always Pays Dividends For communication to get through on all sides, we have to be clear about what we want from each other. That’s true all the time, but esp[...]


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