Universities going fully online, countless Zoom meetings, graduation ceremonies where a robot replaces the actual graduate, and a whole new norm of social distancing guidelines.
5 months ago, we wouldn’t have ever imagined that we would be where we are today and with what is being in place as our reality today, job hunting has become that much more complicating as we’re forced to being in front of a screen 24/7.
The pandemic has slowed down the economy heavily and more people are eventually going into unemployment as of today. 2020 graduates are walking into a job market that may be grimmer than any we’ve seen since the 2008 financial crisis.
So what does this mean for our university graduates who are beaming with hope of landing that first job? Thankfully, we live in an ever so connected world and information on multiple social platforms that are available right at our fingertips.
Here are a few ways that fresh graduates could master the hunt for a job during this mayhem of a year.
1) Have a plan
Firstly, you should know your goals. This doesn’t at all mean to have a plan in place immediately though; use the time at home to your advantage, set a specific time on your calendar to fully focus on certain aspects of job hunting such as networking or updating your resume.
2) Bulk up on connections and professional networking
Building a career network doesn’t necessarily mean to ask for a job, it can be about seeking information from peers or seniors that could offer advice for you and your current situation. Being able to build rapport and a professional connection is an opportunity that comes with asking for help. By doing so, you’ll realise that there are always people out there that are willing to aid you.
3) Build and maintain a digital image
What would employers see when they look you up online? Do you maintain a professional image on Twitter and Instagram? If it’s up online, there are possibilities that somebody would come across it someday. Maintain what is being published in your name, and be mindful of your content and message.
4) Reflect and recreate
With almost all the time in the world, what else can you do? Now is a time better than any for a moment of reflection. Understand what you’re good at and what you might need to improve on. Take a moment to reflect on your past achievements or even small successes that you feel should be noticeable by an employer. Now that you’ve done all that, create content for your resume or recreate content to fit the current circumstances.
Pivot means to turn or to swing; in terms of finding a job, it means to go with the punches and venturing into career paths that you never thought you will. The pandemic and economy is beyond our control, we can however control what we choose to do. By pivoting, more career paths can be discovered and you’d never know how something you never thought you’ll be capable of doing be the one thing that keeps you going in the next year or so. The job market is limited and you may have to settle for a position that is not what they’ve trained ideally for. On top of that, income isn’t what you expected; don’t be too picky as things aren’t always going to be stay bad forever.
6) Consider a side-gig
When times are hard, it’s always safe to pick up a means of income on the side just to be safe. The opportunities are endless, do your research of the ones that are available in your area. Have a car? Consider providing a ridesharing service. Speak more than one language? Try your hand at teaching or translating. Have too much time to spare? Consider being a waiter or waitress at that nearby café. Take initiative to get yourself out there as you’ll never know if one thing can lead to another.
7) Patience, patience, patience
Rome wasn’t built in a day, be patient and go at your own pace. What’s important is that you have plan in place and to tick off one checkpoint one at a time.
What other ways do you use to navigate the current job market? Share them in the comment section below!
Hooters is a popular chain restaurant that was founded in Tampa Bay, Florida.
They have 400+ locations and have inspired several copycat brands such as Twin Peaks.
The business model is pretty basic: hot girls, scanty clothes, bar food.
It’s tacky, but they own it. And they apparently have amazing wings.
Most managers are men and a majority of the employees are scantily clad women. So it probably won’t surprise you that they have “employee relations” issues from time to time.
Hooters managers have a lot of leeway in how they run their operations. They are empowered to build a profitable enterprise. Tangent to this, they can run promos and deals with both customers and employees.
Back in 2002, in Panama City, Florida, a local store manager did an internal promotion. He announced that the waitress who sold the most beer by the end of April would win a free Toyota. It was your basic sales contest, a generous one at that.
One employee, Jodee Berry, needed the money badly and worked her tail off that month. She worked long hours and lots of tables. In the end, she won the competition by a large margin.
Her day came to win her new Toyota. While she was in the restaurant, the manager blindfolded her. All of the employees gathered around to watch the unveiling.
The manager then escorted her outside and into the parking lot. He then took her blindfold off, and presented her with:
A “Toy Yoda.”
She was then surrounded by laughing employees and had to face the reality that she’d been duped.
Jodee wasn’t amused. Nor was she about to roll over.
She hired a lawyer and went on to sue Gulf Coast Wings (the holding company), claiming a breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.
They went to court where the manager claimed it had all been an April Fools’ joke. The defense was weak, at best.
The prank might have seemed cutsie-funny to some people. But the executives at Hooters HQ weren’t amused with their manager. It was terrible public relations. This court case drew substantial attention from local and national news media.
Jodee succeeded in winning her lawsuit. It was settled out of court where, per her attorney, she was given the right to choose a Toyota of her choice.
Humor and marketing are actually quite compatible — when used correctly.
However, any decent sales promotion needs to be aligned with the best interests of both parties. Even if your promo is absolutely hilarious, lying about the reward will rarely end well.
The Hooters manager in question no longer works for the company.
The Oura ring is suddenly everywhere. The $299 sleep tracking device has adorned the digits of Prince Harry, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and, since July 9, 1,000 employees at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas, and most of the NBA players entering the Walt Disney World “bubble” in Florida. The reason for the hype? The ring’s sensors monitor users’ health data, including heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. Oura crunches this data into a daily “readiness” score, which their connected app serves up to users each morning — the score indicates how hard to push yourself that day; for example, if you’ve slept badly, and your score is low, maybe skip the workout that day. Early studies also suggest the ring’s a useful early detection tool for signs of Covid-19.
With no vaccine in sight, wearable tech is having a field day in the time of Covid-19. PGA golfer Nick Watney credits his Whoop watch as the reason he got tested. Duke University launched CovIdentify, asking people with a Fitbit, Garmin watch, or iPhone to download their app in order to analyze if their data can predict infection or severity. Scripps Research Institute put out similar asks for their DETECT study, which aims to speed up identification of areas with outbreaks. And Fitbit, which Google intends to acquire, announced they’d built Ready for Work, a connected app that allows bosses to monitor their employees’ health. Some startups are even floating the idea of wearable smart patches.
It’s no wonder why employers are flocking to wearables like the Oura ring right now; doing something, anything that might potentially prevent or diagnose the disease is very alluring, especially for businesses that have been crushed by the contagion or by reopening restrictions. No one wearable has emerged as “the best” so far, and all studies, while encouraging, only have early-stage results, and aren’t peer reviewed. So how has a sleep-tracking gizmo that’s sold approximately 150,000 rings since early 2018, compared to Fitbit’s estimated 16 million in 2019 alone, become the post-Covid prerequisite?
From the beginning, Oura, which launched version one of their ring in 2015, billed itself as a health and lifestyle company, with a focus on sleep. “Sense. Understand. Inspire.” was splashed across its 2015 homepage. “We’ve always wanted to empower people to understand their full potential,” says Harpreet Singh Rai, Oura’s CEO, who joined Oura in 2017, after a decade managing investments at a global asset management firm. “We started with sleep because that’s an important area of health that’s underlooked. By understanding your own health, you can improve yourself.”
Oura, which is based in Oulu, Finland, and has operations in San Francisco and Helsinki, was founded in 2013 by a group of three friends who were searching for a wearable device to make their lives healthier. They believed that by tracking their data, they’d learn how lifestyle choices influenced their lives. Frustrated by the accuracy, style, and durability of current wrist wearables, they built their own — opting for a ring form factor, as their research showed that fingers were a good place to capture physiological data. In 2015, Oura raised a $2.3 million seed round and launched its first Oura ring to the public, a chunky, Goth-looking gizmo.
Doing something, anything that might potentially prevent or diagnose the disease is very alluring, especially for businesses that have been crushed by the contagion or by reopening restrictions.
In 2018, Oura upgraded the ring to a sleek titanium band that’s available in black, gray, and silver (plus a diamond-crusted $999 premium model). They added sensors, improved the fit, and added an inductive charging system. The ring, which resembles a utilitarian wedding band, weighs between four to six grams, depending on size, which for comparison, is on the lower end of engagement ring weight. Embedded in the band are the temperature and infrared LED sensors, plus a gyroscope and accelerometer, that track temperature, pulse rate, sleep data, and physical activity.
Prior to the pandemic, the ring was beloved by biohackers and techie types, but its price point kept it a niche product.
On March 5, Petri Hollmén, the 40-year-old founder of Lytti, a Finnish event management startup, flew from his home in Turku, Finland, to Zurich, Switzerland, then on to Tyrol, Austria, followed by an overnight stay at home, and then on to Stockholm, Sweden, for a day. Tyrol had become a coronavirus hotspot, so Hollmén self-quarantined, with his wife, three children, and dog, out of concern for his employees. He’d worn his Oura ring the entire time. On March 12, Oura gave him a readiness score of 54, around 30 points lower than normal. His Oura data indicated his temperature was elevated. He felt fine, but called his doctor anyways — he felt embarrassed about calling, he says. His doctor sent him for testing. He had the virus. Back to quarantining. His wife and eldest daughter also developed low-level symptoms, but his two other kids were unaffected. There wasn’t a lot of information about this in his community so he uploaded a selfie with his pup, Miisa, on Facebook, alongside a screed about his experience.
Hollmén’s post went viral, first in Finland and then worldwide. An Oura staffer noticed it, and slacked Rai the link. Hollmén’s elevated temperature didn’t surprise Rai. “Every year, around cold and flu season, users tell us that they saw [their] body temperature increasing,” he says. “This year, that data was obviously much more important.” Sensing a PR opportunity, Rai set up a call with Hollmén. “Thanks for posting that,” Rai told Hollmén. They discussed Hollmén’s recovery and his experience with Oura.
Then Rai paused. “Would you be willing to talk to journalists in the U.S.?”
Since early 2020, researchers across America had started pivoting their work to coronavirus-centric studies; detection, prognosis, treatments, cures. In early March, Ashley Mason, a psychiatric sleep researcher at UCSF, was informed that her investigation of saunas as a treatment for depression was on hold; all non-essential research had been nixed until further notice, they said. Her sauna study, which had not been funded by Oura, had used the company’s rings to track patients’ temperatures.
The result: The UCSF TemPredict study, announced in April. Oura supplied rings to 2,000 frontline workers, and UCSF encouraged any Oura-owning member of the public to enroll in the study online as well. (They must complete a screening survey, answer daily surveys, and allow Oura to share their data.) The end goal, Rai says, is for UCSF to build an algorithm from the data that can identify onset, progression, and recovery patterns. He stressed that any supported studies are independently assessed, and that Oura does not influence the outcomes.
Other researchers with ongoing Oura partnerships also switched up their focus. In West Virginia, the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) developed AI models to forecast symptoms using physiological and behavioral biometrics from Oura data. On May 28, RNI reported that their A.I. platform detected symptoms three days before they materialized, with a 90% accuracy rate. They’ve scaled their program to health care employees at universities across America.
RNI’s preliminary findings caught the eye of the NBA Wearables Committee, who approve and validate players’ devices for use during gameplay. To keep their Disneyland social bubble well monitored, alongside regular Covid testing, they purchased 2,000 smart rings to monitor the players and staff (though wearing them is optional). Around the same time, Las Vegas Sands, which runs the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, also purchased 1,000 to pilot with their staff, and say they’ll purchase 9,300 more if the trial goes well. To aid companies in tracking possible infections in their workforce, Oura developed an enterprise management platform, which lets employers monitor ring-wearers’ health, and provides them with illness probabilities for every opted-in employee or NBA player.
The media hype around Oura — all savvily overseen by Rai — has been great for business. On March 17, Rai announced Oura had raised a $28 million Series B round. (To date, they’ve raised $75.5 million.) Since shelter-in-place took effect, numerous startups have folded, or furloughed to eke out their runway, but Oura’s team grew 20% between February and June, including new hires in social media and engineering. Just in the past month its social following grew by more than 100% on Twitter and Instagram, according to estimates from stat tracker Social Blade.
One of the company’s main challenges right now is keeping up with demand in the midst of supply chain issues created by coronavirus. The situation highlighted the inefficiencies of using Finland as the location for the company’s main fulfillment center. Shipping to the U.S. slowed, and many of the ring’s components that were sourced from China are taking longer to receive. And more and more research studies are asking to use Oura data. “We never imagined that in 2020 we’d be doing studies with nearly 50,000 enrollees,” says Rai. Oura can’t handle 50 new studies, he says, (their main focus is still consumer sleep tracking) so he has offered Oura’s open API share data with researchers. Despite building an app to let employers track employee biometrics, Rai is emphatic that the Oura ring “doesn’t diagnose or treat,” but says the data could be useful to people.
Meanwhile, researchers are going full speed ahead. In early March, Michael Snyder, PhD, a genetics professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, in conjunction with Fitbit turned his attention from researching wearables’ place in assessing risk for Lyme and Type 2 diabetes, to using wearables for Covid-19 detection. “We’re device agnostic,” Snyder says — any high-risk or exposed person who owns an Oura, Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung, or Apple watch can join his Covid-19 Wearables study, in which users link their wearable to an app and self-report additional symptoms. “We can detect Covid-19 with a smartwatch,” Snyder claims.
Whether or not the Oura ring is an effective Covid-19 alert system is still to be determined, and if research ends up discounting the device, that could become a major challenge for the company.
According to his preliminary data, algorithms detected elevated heart rates three of four days before symptoms appeared in around 80% of cases. “Heart rate is a better measure than skin temperature as a lot of people don’t get fever with Covid-19,” he says. However, so far, the data can’t differentiate between, say, Covid-19 and the common cold. And, at least according to Snyder, there’s no clear wearable winner. “We don’t know which wearable is best, as they all measure different things,” he says. “We’ll see which features turn out to be the most important.” Snyder believes that once the algorithms improve, most people will purchase wearables for early detection. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says.
Others wonder if Oura may be getting too much attention. “Without doubt Oura is the most successful smart ring company today,” says Mikko Nurmimaki, editor of Smart Ring News. “It is beautiful. But we are yet to see objective, medical evidence on the accuracy of detecting Covid-19.” Nurmimaki posits that Oura’s buzz has overshadowed smart rings like the CIRCUL, created by California startup Bodimetrics. Its SP02 sensors measure blood oxygen levels, which might be a better diagnostic.
Rishi Desai, the chief medical officer at Osmosis, a medical education platform, and former epidemic intelligence officer at the CDC, isn’t convinced. “Wearables aren’t a major part of the solution for the problem we have today,” he says. “Joe buying it today will not help Joe, today or tomorrow.” He does however see them as “increasingly important technology for problems that we have in the future” in that collected data from wearables will hopefully drive medical research that develops the cures of tomorrow. Desai, who objects to capturing temperature data from a finger because it’s not “a good measure of core temperature,” also says the high cost of Oura and most wearable tech makes it inaccessible to many, noting that “the people that are highest risk are living on the margins.”
Even so, William Haseltine, BA, PhD, an infectious disease expert at ACCESS Health International and author ofA Family Guide to Covid suggests it’s a “good idea” for people to purchase wearables because they make people more aware of social distancing and their symptoms. “There is variable accuracy,” he admits, “but the ask is to call their doctor — that’s not an onerous intervention.” They give people back some autonomy, he says, “where they’ve been left to their own devices as the government isn’t protecting them.” And of course, he adds, their data’s valuable for epidemiologists.
Whether or not the Oura ring is an effective Covid-19 alert system is still to be determined, and if research ends up discounting the device, that could become a major challenge for the company. In the next few weeks, its data is likely going to be under more scrutiny; at Stanford, Snyder’s rolling out a text message system to alert users of wearables — including Oura rings and Fitbits — if their metrics suggest they have the virus.
Osmosis’ Desai is worried about this next step. “Can you imagine if everybody in New York City starts calling with a fast heart rate? It would completely overwhelm the system,” he says. The Oura might be the shiniest new tech toy right now, he says, but that shine could be a misdirection. “The most important wearable right now to be focusing on is masks,” he says. “Anything that’s not talking about masks as the wearable of choice is a distraction.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creating scenarios in my head, juggling between the past and the future. Trust me when I say it’s easy to lose yourself in a story for a good few minutes. Just grab your headphones and play a dramatic song that fits the screenplay. It almost feels real, doesn’t it?
The best thing about it is that you can do it anywhere. You don’t have to lay in bed or a hammock. No, no, no. If you are an experienced player, you can easily zone out in the middle of a conversation.
Does it sound familiar? I’m sure it does. But how do we put an end to it?
They say practicing meditation is the secret to a clear mind. And it is, to some extent. I’ve been doing it regularly for one and a half years and boy, oh boy, did it make a huge difference. However, until recently I was still finding myself overthinking. I’m a veteran after all.
My left foot was on a wooden boat, full of people who create scenarios in their heads. The right one was on a yacht where people manage to stay in the present moment. Van Damme and his epic split have nothing on me.
I should probably work more on my metaphors, though.
Back to our story, how about some good news too? You can use a simple hack to say goodbye to overthinking. Here’s how to do it.
How to Stop Overthinking According to a Hilarious Buddhist Monk
He is known as Phra Visuddhisamvarathera, Ajahn Brahmavaṃso, or simply Ajahn Brahm. We’ll stick with the shorter version, for everybody’s sanity.
When talking about overthinking, he says he used to do it a lot too. It was mostly about falling in love and starting a family.
Before he was a monk, of course. Now he’s probably flying on a magic carpet.
But let’s see what his method is, shall we?
Ajahn Brahm says that whenever he was engaging in imaginative conversations, he would ask himself “then what?” and repeat the question for as long as he needed to.
“When I was young I too used to have fantasies. I learned to stop them from grabbing hold of me by following them to their logical conclusion. I would think, “Then what? Then what?” and I wouldn’t stop until I had the full picture.”
Now let’s say you start thinking about how people will react to a new project you are working on. Ask yourself “then what?”. Maybe you’ll continue the story and come up with how you are going to respond to their critiques, or thank them for their praise.
Ask yourself again what comes next. In just a few seconds, you’ll lose interest in your own story.
In his book, Ajahn Brahm explains how this method helped him and why it works:
“With fantasies such as falling in love, getting married, and riding off into the sunset, the “then what” took all the fun out of it, because the “then what” was just empty. There was no color, brightness, joy, or happiness anymore because the “then what” would be whatever everyone else experiences.”
So next time you feel like creating scenarios in your head, keep asking yourself “then what” until you realize you have better things to do. Or until you get really, really annoyed.
Either way, it works. You stop playing stories in your head in which you fight with people from your past or fantasize about happy endings you might never get.
After a while, the number of times you have to ask the question will decrease, and eventually, you’ll stop overthinking for good.
Who Is Ajahn Brahm?
I discovered this incredibly funny Buddhist monk in Myanmar, at a meditation center where I volunteered for two weeks. The nuns living there introduced me to his books and discourses and I was immediately hooked.
Mainly because he has a really good sense of humor. Even though he’s talking about deep, spiritual things, he does it in a laid-back way.
He’s a big supporter of same-sex marriages and often stresses that Buddhist teachings do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Talk about a cool monk, eh?
Born in England as Peter Betts,heordained in Thailand, at the age of 23. Today, he is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia.
If you are interested in his teachings, you can find his discourses on Youtube. You can also read his books or listen to the Buddhist Society of Western Australia podcast.
Yep, podcast, you read that right. I told you this Buddhist monk takes things to the next level.
We are all guilty of overthinking. But simply because it’s a common thing doesn’t mean it’s a good one too. It can only harm us and affect our relationships. No matter how you look at it, there is no positive outcome.
We can’t stop overthinking in just a few days, especially if it’s a behavioral pattern that we’ve been feeding for years.
Instead of trying to get rid of this bad habit overnight, start measuring your success by keeping track of the time you spend overthinking.
Let’s say you are doing it for two hours every day. If you manage to get it down to half an hour after a month of using this method, you are making tremendous progress.
The Japanese use of Kamikaze pilots in the Pacific campaign against the United States was perhaps the most extreme tactic ever used by the Rising Sun Empire to gain an advantage over the enemy. This tactic was born out of the need to destroy the American aircraft carriers which defined American dominance across the Pacific theatre. American aircraft carriers were usually heavily guarded by both high-quality American fighters and anti-air guns mounted on the carrier itself.
During the later stages of the war, Japanese fighter aircraft could not hope to compete against the superior American variants and thus a new way to strike at the heart of the American fleet was required. These circumstances gave birth to the Kamikaze tactic. But what would happen if a pilot tasked with this vital task failed his mission and returned?
For the Emperor
Honour has always played a big part in Japanese society. Many who volunteered to the Kamikaze corp saw it as an honour to die for their country. It was also believed that the show of honour and selflessness shown by a Kamikaze pilot willingly sacrificing himself for this country would have massive psychological impacts on the invading forces.
Even more importantly Kamikaze attacks were much more accurate than bombing runs allowing the Japanese Air Force to target the weak points of American ships, making this tactic much more efficient than the traditional bombing run, something vital for the already weak and overextended Japanese armed forces.
Many people in Japanese society looked up to the Kamikaze pilots as they were seen as the ultimate show of loyalty to the emperor. As such they received better rations during their training although this was outweighed by the harsh training and disciplining they were put through during the preparation for their final day. Even with all this preparation and nationalistic zeal some of the pilots were too scared to perform their task or experienced mechanical failures during their ‘last flight’ forcing them to return back to Japan.
Failure and dishonour
The Kamikaze pilots who returned fall into two distinct groups. Those who returned due to weather conditions or mechanical failures in their place and those who returned due to not being able to perform their task successfully due to psychological reasons. Each group received different treatment on their return.
The pilots who could prove that their return was caused by conditions outside of their control were neither punished nor looked down upon. During a stage of the war when even pilots were classed as a scarce resource the Japanese could not afford to lose a well trained Kamikaze pilot and thus their return was accepted and their ‘last flight’ was rescheduled although some still felt survivor’s guilt over if they were the only one in their squadron to survive.
For those pilots who couldn’t prove that their return was caused by factors outside of their control, their treatment would be a bit different. Although still not executed these pilots would receive some sort of punishment be it physical or mental. These punishments were not to be too severe as the pilot had to be ready for another flight at some point in the future so nothing that would damage that ability would be performed. Even so, this had a limit as seen with one pilot who returned 9 times from his Kamikaze mission. He would be executed on his 9th return for cowardice.
To combat these mental factors that would stop the Kamikaze pilots from completing their tasks a few measures were implemented. Kamikaze pilots would often fly in squadrons as to increase the peer pressure between colleagues leading to fewer pilots flaking off and not completing their task. Pilots also received alcohol before their ‘final flight’ giving them some ‘liquid courage’ to help them complete their task.
Many think that the pilots were also given just enough fuel to make it to their target as another incentive but this wasn’t true as we now know that these pilots were such a scarce resource that this wouldn’t be a viable way of incentivising them to perform their task.
When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills. — Excerpt from a kamikaze pilots’ manual
As always, war brings out the worst in humanity, something that cannot be more true of the Japanese. In a society, so where honour and subservience to the emperor means more than one’s life such tactics as using Kamikaze pilots or making infantry suicide bomb tanks could be justified and even celebrated by the general populace as they aided the war effort.
Japan would commit many despicable war crimes during the Second World War in a search to best their enemies stopping at nothing to do so. We see this with the experiments performed by Unit 731 and the atrocities committed in mainland China in a quest to placate the rebellious population.
Japan has always been an interesting case study in history and will remain as such due to the unique culture the hermit civilization developed over the centuries of isolation from influence outside of their island. I look forward to exploring the history of this country further someday.
In 1975, a famous French psychoanalyst, Clotaire Rapaille, was giving a speech at a local university in Paris.
As things wound down and people filtered out of the auditorium, he was approached by a Nestle associate who had sat in for the lecture. The associate had a problem unlike any Clotaire dealt with before.
Western companies had been capitalizing on a growing Japanese market. But where other companies were generating waves of profits, Nestle was failing and their team was growing desperate.
They’d attempted to bring Nestle coffee to Japan. They’d developed a great product. It was affordable and tested well with its intended audience. But sales continued to slump.
Clotaire had been a foremost researcher on the emotional bonds we form with objects in our culture.
They offered Clotaire a handsome fee and flew him out to meet with Nestle’s Japanese marketing team.
Clotaire then began doing research.
He assembled several large groups of participants and did a number of eccentric experiments. In one, he had all participants lie on the ground. He played calming music and had them talk back through their earliest childhood memories. He then asked them to describe experiences with different products and what emotions they associated with them.
Then, when he had these participants do that with coffee— he got no response. Most had no memories of coffee. They’d never drank it and thus had no emotional bond to it. Why? Because in Japan they drank tea, as they had for thousands of years. Coffee existed only in small reaches of their culture.
This was a breakthrough moment. And it would drive the next idea, which would be one of the boldest marketing moves of the 20th century.
Disrupting the System
Rather than throw endless advertising dollars at converting the Japanese public to coffee, they pivoted and took a more long term strategy.
They focused on coffee-flavored candies that were marketed to children. Per Clotaire’s guidance, they needed to get children to love Nestle’s flavor from an early age. Not only would this condition them to the taste, it would also imprint the flavor. They would associate coffee with positive emotions.
Every one of us has experienced imprinting. For example, I have very positive associations with waterslides and water parks. I spent my childhood summers playing at them in Florida.
This imprinting strategy was also a good idea because Nestle happened to be very, very good at making candy. The Swiss company had proven itself dominant in markets all over the world.
They tested, manufactured, and stocked shelves with their coffee-flavored candies. They immediately became extremely popular with Japanese youth.
The popularity of these coffee candies also had the secondary effect of filtering up to their parents, who ended up testing the coffee flavor out of curiosity.
Years later, Nestle would reenter the Japanese market with a new wave of coffee products. This time, the outcome would be very different.
Many of their candy customers were now of working age. They were already consumers of caffeine and worked long hours. Nestle released instant baristas that were easy for home and workspaces.
Nestle was no longer marketing roadkill. Their instant coffee was a monster that quickly took hold of the market.
Today, Nestle is one of the top brands in a market that imports 500 million tons of coffee per year. Decades prior, they could barely sell a cup.
It all began with a desperate experiment that required a bit of patience. But they proved, yet again, that the path to sales is built through strong emotional bonds with customers.
Ambient advertising came to life when technology started to displace traditional advertising.
Commercials simply weren’t worth the massive spend for most companies. Nobody pays attention.
Still, many advertisers are shy of ambient advertising, as it comes off as too avant-garde. It’s also difficult to track results.
Regardless, this medium is extremely effective if you apply it correctly, and creatively.
Audacity and innovation go hand in hand with great ads.
We almost lost NatGeo.
Like most magazines, they’ve gone through a very difficult transition into the tech world. They were recently acquired by Disney and rebranded and rebuilt the company.
But they’ve had to hustle to stay alive, much like a lion chasing a zebra. But while you won’t see their magazines piling up each month in the corner, you will see some brilliant advertising on their part.
In one campaign in Brazil, they ran an ad that both generated reach and scared the living shit out of patrons. This is not a fake image.
It translates to “Ready for an adventure through the Brazilian forests?”
It is an optical illusion, a mat that was designed, printed, and laid at several escalator floors.
These people will be talking about this after, and will possibly remember more. But I question the safety of such a print ad.
The Flea Problem
Another way to execute this is to create an ad that looks like one thing from one angle, but completely different from another. And in the process, turn actual people into part of the advertisement.
Pet store, Jakpetz, had a limited advertising budget. They wanted to generate awareness of some of their products, namely their Frontline dog spray, by maximizing a busy work area.
They hired a famed creative agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, who more than delivered on that promise.
The people on the ground had no idea that they were part of an actual commercial, playing the role of fleas.
All advertising should be about problem:solution on some level.
Ambient advertising can be used to present the before and after of that process.
For example, a window cleaner.
Windex bought up multiple spaces in New York City bus stops. Then they manufactured special semi-transparent cutouts that they would stick to the windows, which had people leaning over to look through the clean spot, effectively communicating their brand promise.
Also, note how the clear part of that image is in the exact shape of the spray pattern.
Another trick is to pair the effect of your product with another product that is doing a very different task. After all, the heart of creativity has always been the marrying of two seemingly different ideas in novel ways.
Gillette was eager to break into markets in Canada. They hired super-agency BBDO, who came up with one of my favorite advertisements. That included the outfitting of an entire Zamboni.
Crowds were a huge fan, entranced as the Zamboni carved row after row of crystal smooth ice, implying the message, “This could be your face <wink, wink>”.
These idea pitches must seem crazy in the boardroom.
UNICEF Social Awareness
Many of you live comfortably in first world countries. We have a lot of luxuries that we take for granted that, in absence, are the scourge of hundreds of millions of people.
Agency Casanova Pendrill was hired to produce a campaign to raise awareness for clean drinking water. More than four thousand children die from water-related diseases every day.
These vending machines presented a number of lethal options for consumers, which, thankfully, you couldn’t buy.
A number of them had employees who were attempting to sell waters that were ridden with chunky dirty water.
Needless to say, none were sold. But they did raise millions for clean water in Africa.
Fast food and retail candy stores frequently turn actual public facilities into food items.
You’ll notice that this is most common in busy cities, for the obvious reason that more people will see it.
And also, because many of the ad agencies are located right in these cities. Sometimes the creatives walk down and set the ads up themselves.
Brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, and virtually any retail store in Times Square or similarly busy areas, are cash negative businesses.
They still sell food etc. but they are mainly there because the store itself is an advertisement that will appear constantly on TV shows and to passersby.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
I couldn’t even show this one to my girlfriend. She hates cockroaches so much. But it hits home because living in Florida is literally like living in a bug-infested swamp.
But if you also hate bugs, cockroaches will certainly find a way to live in your home if you don’t do something about it.
This Doom Fogger spray took it to the next level, installing a cockroach apartment in a tiny crack in the wall.
When in doubt? Anthropomorphize.
For the final example, let’s go to Russia.
The Russian sports federation was trying to strengthen many of their athletic talent pools.
Tangent to this, local towns were trying to bring out more talent for the travel teams that they were building (start ’em young). BBDO created a series of print out ads that they purposely positioned high up and out of reach for most people.
At the top of it was a series of tear-off tags that you could grab. On them was a code that you could enter to get invited out to their tryouts.
Some were more successful than others. Which was exactly as they intended.
The world doesn’t need more loud guys full of too many words, with buff arms, in tight shirts, and huge egos to match. The world needs quiet people. Why?
Quiet people make you think. Thinking brings clarity. Thinking can lead to change.
I’ve always been intrigued by Keanu. He is a quiet person who keeps to himself and still hasn’t figured out how to be famous after twenty-nine years of being one of the most iconic Hollywood Actors of all time.
Keanu doesn’t get fame, attention or noise. Instead, he prefers to be quiet and insert silence in his speeches and TV interviews.
When he does choose to speak, he drops short sentence bombs like this interview with Steven Colbert:
Stephen: “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?”
Keanu: I know that the ones who love us will miss us.
In eleven words, Keanu summed up the entire meaning of life. It was a moment of sheer brilliance.
Take Time to Answer a Question
In a relatively unknown interview with Keanu back in 2000, RollingStone writer, Chris Heath, picks up on how Keanu uses silence.
I ask him why he acts. For forty-two seconds, he says nothing. Not a word, a grunt, a prevarication, or a hint that an answer might come. For most of that time, his head is angled at ninety degrees away from me, as if that’s where the oxygen is.
“Uh,” he finally says, “the words that popped into my head were expression and, uh, it’s fun.” A few minutes later, I lob a vague question about whether he ever wants to write or direct. He lets out a kind of quiet sigh.
At its worst, it’s like this. You ask Keanu Reeves a question and . . . just wait. Out in space, planets collide, stars go supernova. On earth, forests fall, animals screech and roar. People shout and rant and weep with anger and joy and just for the hell of it.
And, all this time, Reeves sits there, entirely silent.
On this particular occasion, the silence lasts seventy-two seconds.
Rather than answering a question, Keanu waits to see if he has an answer worth giving. He then attempts to edit down his response in his head so that it can be understood. Many of the interviews with Keanu contain huge chunks of silence. That’s why his TV interviews aren’t that in-depth because it takes him time to respond and a three-minute TV interview just doesn’t do it.
The real answers to life’s toughest questions take time to answer.
Softly Spoken Brings People Closer
Billie Eilish does this with her music. Many of her songs contain lyrics that are softly sung and you have to lean in to understand what she’s saying.
Keanu uses softly spoken words in interviews to bring people in and take them on a journey. Hollywood wants him to be loud and fancy, but that’s not how he rolls, and he’s intentional about it.
We’re told to be loud. Social media teaches us to use caps, emojis, hashtags and big, bold captions on our videos to get people to listen.
What if doing the opposite of loud was really the answer to being heard?
A soft voice like Keanu’s draws you in, and then, only then, can you hear what he is trying to say.
One-liners that Break the Room
Journalist, Miki Turner, shares this thought about Keanu in her story titled “Keanu is a man of a few soft-spoken words.”
It’s not that Reeves is difficult because sometimes he’ll go completely left and deliver a one-liner that will break up the room — like when a reporter asked Reeves if he felt his career was being defined by his “Matrix” experience.
“I am the ambassador for the ‘Matrix’ trilogy,” Reeves said in a deep, robot-like voice. “My operating hours are…”
When you speak less and sit back and listen, during the rare times when you do talk, you have the space to deliver one-liners like Keanu that blow people’s minds and help them to think deeply.
Silence Breeds Curiosity
Keanu uses silence brilliantly in speeches and public performances. The silence helps the listener become curious about what he’s going to say. It breeds suspense and that helps you put your phone away and listen.
Silence breeds curiosity and curiosity leads to a conversation where someone will listen to you.
Being Quiet Interrupts the Pattern
Hollywood actors are typically loud and have large personalities. By being quiet like Keanu, you interrupt people’s thought patterns.
Try this: attend a work meeting that you’re supposed to be contributing to. Say nothing. Sit there and actively listen with an engaged look on your face. Continue to be quiet and resist the urge to fill up time with your voice. Watch what happens. At some point, your silence is going to break the pattern of the meeting. Somebody is going to ask you for your point of view and it’s during that moment that you will be “properly” heard.
The typical pattern of meetings and human conversation is to talk a lot. Try being quiet to break the pattern and help people think with your words.
People can’t resist the urge to talk — they also can’t resist the urge to hear from the people who are extremely quiet.
Pauses Allow Time for Reflection
The quiet ones like Keanu always seem to use strategic pauses.
Between each point they’re trying to make, they add a pause. When giving a compliment or expressing gratitude, they add a pause to ensure the maximum effect is felt by those listening.
Pauses in human dialogue allow our minds to think at a deeper level.
The challenge is often we um and ah our way through pauses rather than intentionally leaving a few.
A pause is a tool you can use to get people to think.
The Smarter you Become, the Less You Speak
This is the key lesson Keanu has taught me: You’re not smart by talking a lot. You’re not having an impact by increasing your speech volume or trying to be important. You’re smart when you do the following:
Let people talk first
Listen with intention
When your face shows you’re engaged in the conversation
You practice saying less
You lead with empathy
Quiet People Make us Think
Silence is not only golden; it makes you think. And we need more time to think during these uncertain times.
Conversely, you can’t think about what someone is saying if you’re lost in thoughts of what you’re going to say next.
If you are a young, unmarried man reading this right now, there’s a good chance you’ll sink thousands into a diamond ring.
It’s total BS. Here is why.
In the late 1870s, the first major diamond mines were being excavated in South Africa.
The different owners of these mines suddenly had a self-created problem: they had too much of this stuff. Ton after ton of diamonds was flowing out of these holes in the ground.
This wasn’t pure luck, because diamonds aren’t actually rare. Scientists believe a quadrillion tons of diamonds are inside the Earth.
The mine owners realized they would end up in a price war with each other if they didn’t somehow stop it. So they merged together to form a diamond conglomerate called De Beers. But it was more like a cartel that controlled the world’s supply of diamonds.
In the early 1900s, De Beers’ strategy of scarcity was mostly paying off. Among wealthy patrons, diamonds sold well and were an effective way to flex wealth and status.
But at a macro level, diamonds didn’t sell anywhere close to the way they do today.
And they certainly weren’t popular at weddings.
How Diamonds Became a Woman’s Best Friend
The diamond business was crumbling in the 1930s. The world was on fire. The economic shockwave of the Great Depression had just rolled through the country. The second world war was heating up.
In turn, diamond sales, like most luxury goods, were hitting new lows. De Beers’ entire business model was in jeopardy if they didn’t do something drastic.
Advertising had become a much more powerful medium. Companies realized they could shape the minds of consumers far more than they’d previously realized. De Beers hired famed ad agency, N.W. Ayer.
This decision would revolutionize our society’s relationship with diamonds.
So how do you sell diamonds when the world is on fire? Simple. You pair diamonds up to powerful, aspirational emotions.
In 1938, weddings rarely involved diamonds. Even when they did involve jewelry, the agency’s research showed that most women preferred that their husbands spend money on something they could actually use.
N.W. Ayer hired a copywriter, Frances Gerety, who would write all the diamond commercials for decades to come. She’d been explicitly told that the number one goal was to create a situation where all couples in America felt obliged to get a diamond ring for their wedding.
She strategically bridged the idea of a diamond’s long life to the aspirational aspects of love. She released her first “a diamond is forever” campaign.
She then drove home the symbolism of the ring as a mark of a woman being spoken for.
This was particularly relevant because so many young men were deploying to war and were eager to secure a partner back at the home front.
One campaign showed images of fiancées waiting for their men to return.
It included lines like, “For each man’s ring is a personal, masculine reassurance — that time, space, and circumstance — shall not change his devotion.”
These ads milked it hard. They used lots of power words like “forever”, “eternal like a diamond”, “absolute certainty”, and “promise.”
“Happily she dreams upon the promise she is given… she is engaged and on her finger, her engagement diamond tells the joys and hopes two hearts now share.”
N.W. Ayer found a weak spot in the hearts and minds of consumers and shot a cannonball through it.
This one is pretty easy to read (double-tap the image to zoom). Watch her work it. She knew exactly what she was doing.
Their campaigns were remarkably effective. Diamond sales went up by double within two years. They then doubled again several times each year after that.
By 1951, 80% of brides in America received a diamond engagement ring. Twenty years prior, it was less than 20%.
Years later, still not satisfied with 80%, De Beers realized the appeal of diamond rings wasn’t generating revenue with lower income brackets. Those consumers saw the rings as outside of their reach.
De Beers expanded their cheaper selection and did a dirty, albeit brilliant marketing tactic:
They set an arbitrary spend of two months’ salary for an engagement ring.
And even today, that line has sticking power, with many people saying three months’ salary. De Beers leveraged the male impulse to sacrifice resources as a show of force for their love.
Taking a Step Back
Diamonds have no intrinsic value.
Sure, there’s craftsmanship involved. But you can have that with anything.
A diamond’s value is completely driven by marketing. And we all bought into it. Your diamond loses a ton of value the moment after you buy it. If you are a man in America, there’s a 50% chance your diamond will lose all of its value (divorce).
But we should give credit where credit is due.
We’ll put aside the shady behind-the-scenes business of blood diamonds (which could be a separate essay). We’ll forget the cartel-like practices of De Beers.
At the end of the day, this mining company took a common mineral, gave it false scarcity, and hired a great copywriter to dress it up in heavy emotional language.
In turn, young people have diamond fever. De Beers literally wedged their product as a must in every wedding. Today, they make billions in annual revenue as a result.
You’ll have to look far and wide to find marketing campaigns that created so much value with a product that had none.
And as my parting advice, don’t spend too much money on your wedding ring. Maybe just upgrade it at the ten-year mark after you prove the two of you can live together.
A black and white photo of a man in a tuxedo and top hat. Seems harmless enough for the face of a toothpaste brand right? However, there’s a darker side of Darlie’s history that is less known.
Darlie (or “Darkie” As It Was Originally Branded)
It was first created by a company called Hawley & Hazel Chemical Company in 1933. Originally a product of Shanghai, China, it was launched as a “play” on a popular American comedian at the time, Al Jolson.
The Shanghai owners of Hawley & Hazel distastefully thought the contrast between the blackface and his sparkling white teeth would be a great brand image. Unfortunately, these racists were right “Darkie,” as the brand was called, became one of the best selling toothpaste brands in Asia ever. It’s still for sale. And it’s still number one.
Their first response to a letter of demand to stop selling the product in America in 1986: “No plans…exist that would extend marketing and sales efforts for this product… beyond this (Far East) area.”
PR was a different beast back then, wasn’t it? I wish I could say they learned their lesson after that and made a change. Well, they did make a change. But not the one you’d want or expect.
Colgate’s CEO Ruben Mark finally issued an apology in 1989, a full four years after owning and selling it.
“It’s just plain wrong. The morally right thing dictated that we must change. What we have to do is find a way to change that is least damaging to the economic interests of our partners.”
Ruben Mark (1989)
The spokesperson of the partner company in Hong Kong, Ms. Mary Quon, stated: “The old name represents offensive racial stereotyping.”
Finally, they were starting to understand the enormity of the problem. Or at least it seemed like they were. Colgate rebranded the product to “Darlie” and changed the image to that of a white person in a black hat. What a drastic change, right? But there was one thing they didn’t choose to modify.
Here’s what the packaging looked like over the years:
The English name was changed. But the name in Mandarin? Not so much.
“黑人牙膏” — (Hēirén yágāo)= Black Person Toothpaste
“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” was obviously not the company slogan. It still shocks me whenever I recall seeing the brand taking up 25% of the toothpaste shelves in America. It shocked me, even more, when I saw it in many countries I visited throughout Asia.
Six countries: China, Thailand, Hongkong, Vietnam, Singapore, and of course Malaysia, all still have this brand prominently displayed on their shelves. And it’s either 1st or 2nd place in sales in all of the above countries. That’s the main brand that 1.64 billion people are potentially buying every day of the week.
It’s completely unacceptable for a brand in this day and age to still have a fully racially charged brand out there. After all of the prominence of the battle for racial equality, all of the struggles, all of the inequities and controversies that we’ve seen over the past centuries, how can a brand like this still exist? The point is especially amplified after a forced rebranding because it was finally considered so racist.
Money is the one language we all understand. The fact that Colgate and its partner company Hawley & Hazel have been earning millions upon millions from a racist brand is ridiculous.
Colgate hoped, seemingly successfully, that as long as it didn’t bring the product over to America that it’s racist name would be overlooked. Hey, as long as the English name isn’t racist, who would notice right?
Well, if you’re still with me reading this, you noticed. And if you’d like to help Colgate re-notice their blatant racist profiteering, here’s some handy little info for you: their website contact page. And their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, make your voices heard!