Noted historians serve as your personal audio guide through a virtual walking tour of the New York Public Library. Find out about hidden details of the famed NYC building as these expert reveal the history behind the Winnie the Pooh toys, the Rose Main Reading Room, the iconic lion statues Patience and Fortitude, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, the Milstein Division, the map collection, the book train and more.
Regardless of our age, at each stage of life, we should take a moment to take stock, to do a self-evaluation. We should know who we are and understand what we want. We should have asked ourselves the tough questions, see ourselves clearly, and make adjustments if necessary. This doesn't guarantee success but it guarantees that you will feel good about how you are living your life. Here are some things we should always be able to say about ourselves:
Creature Technology is the world’s top animatronics company that makes giant dinosaurs, bears, gorillas, and whatever else museums and amusement parks need. In this segment of 'Hello World: Australia,' Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance visits the company's warehouse and meets these incredible "creatures" in person.
It’s every weight loss enthusiast’s dream to zap belly fat but, far from pure vanity, there’s actually a reason why having a lot of fat in the abdominal region can be dangerous. Fat is stored all over our body, but how does an expanding waistline grow your risk for chronic illness?
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Your body’s fat impacts your health differently depending on where it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of our bodies (think arms, legs, buttocks) are considered “subcutaneous fat,” belly fat is more likely to be “visceral.”
PINCHABLE VERSUS PRESSABLE
“Subcutaneous fat” is the pinchable, squishy fat right between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. “Visceral fat” stores calories too, but isn’t as pinchable because it is located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which is what makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it.
Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and releasing hormones that affect your other organs. Because visceral fat sits near our organs, its release of these chemicals is poorly situated. Having more visceral fat can raise your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure. Visceral fat can also make you less sensitive to insulin, which increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
TELLING BAD BELLY FAT APART
Even if you’re thin, you can still have visceral fat around the abdominal region—being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no sure-fire way to tell visceral from subcutaneous fat short of an expensive CT scan, but it’s important for you to get a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Here are a few tricks to figure out where your belly stands:
APPLES AND PEARS
You’re probably wondering, “What does fruit have to do with it?” These two fruits give a quick visual of where most of your fat is stored on the body. Pears tend to store fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat while apples tend to store fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. It takes a quick inspection, but this is an imperfect way to tell these two fats apart.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC)
Feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this point. Remember to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and figure out the average. Men should have a WC of less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women should have a WC of less than 35 inches (89 cm).
The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) takes the circumference of your waist (see above) and divides it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your butt and measure that circumference. Then use this formula:
WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference).
Men should have a WHR of less than 1 while women should have a WHR of less than 0.8.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY HISTORY
If your parents or siblings have insulin resistance, heart disease or non-alcoholic fatty liver, you may be at a greater risk for storing visceral fat. Keeping an eye on your visceral fat may be beneficial, but know that the causes of these chronic diseases are complex. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.
BANISHING VISCERAL FAT
If you fall in the normal range for WC and WHR, that’s great! Keep working at your weight goals as you see fit. If you’re not there, don’t despair. Because of its proximity to the liver, visceral fat is usually the easier fat to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that likes to stick around.
Unfortunately, you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle:
In the US, the very same blood test can cost $19 at one clinic and $522 at another clinic just blocks away -- and nobody knows the difference until they get a bill weeks later. Journalist Jeanne Pinder says it doesn't have to be this way. She's built a platform that crowdsources the true costs of medical procedures and makes the data public, revealing the secrets of health care pricing. Learn how knowing what stuff costs in advance could make us healthier, save us money -- and help fix a broken system.
Assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is an essential process for any brand
BE HONEST. How are you helping your brand and how are you hurting it? Are you comfortably uncomfortable or are you looking to make a seismic shift? Is your ego holding you back or is your perspective calculated enough to be objective? Or does your business remind you of Sisyphus: every day, you push a boulder up a hill only to have it tumble down and make roadkill of your face? Maybe it’s time to bring in the SWOT.
SWOT (an acronym for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats”) analysis is a strategic planning tool that gives you insight into the current state of your business in the context of market and consumer conditions. It forces you to be brutally honest about where you are today and the possibilities that lie ahead, laying the foundation for brand and business strategies and goal-setting. SWOTs are agile because they can be applied to any aspect of your product, brand, or business—as long as they align with your overall brand or business goals.
Similar to the brand discovery process, in a SWOT analysis, we prioritize the evaluation of external elements, such as opportunities and threats, through PEST analysis, market frameworks, and methodologies (such as Michael Porter’s Five Forces Framework) because outside mitigating forces have a direct impact on the internal analysis of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. You have immediate influence and control over the inner workings of your company, but when you turn your lens outward, your influence has less of a direct impact. There are factors outside your control that can’t easily or quickly be changed to your advantage.
In order to get a holistic view of your business, you should assess and evaluate the internal factors independently of the external—and then bring all the pieces together in a final SWOT analysis.
You’re probably wondering how to determine what elements comprise each quadrant. I’d recommend sitting down with key team members to map out the good, the bad, and the ugly in the form of short bullet points. This exercise is not about creating a magnum opus, but rather, you want to inventory all the factors that could influence your business. Below are some brainstormed ideas of things you could include to give the process focus and direction.
To burrow deep on some of these external factors as part of the overall SWOT analysis, I’ll share two methodologies that are graphic representations of complex, multilayered systems. But know that there are a variety of methods and approaches to this process. I’m a big fan of the PEST (or PESTLE) and the Five Forces Framework. Each business and its customers, market, and climate will determine which model makes sense for them.
A PEST (an acronym for “political, economic, sociocultural, and technological”) analysis observes how and which external factors could impact your business within a given timeframe. These are environmental elements that could either impede growth or serve as strategic opportunities. PEST analysis helps you gauge the health and growth potential of a particular industry and contextualize how your company could be primed for growth or decline. Consider PEST a perfect pregame exercise for your SWOT analysis.
This excellent tutorial distills complicated information in a simple, easy-to-understand way:
The Five Forces Framework
In 1979, Michael Porter developed this methodology when he posited that five key competitive forces influence the strength and position of a company, as well as provide insight on a company’s SWOT so they can dodge mistakes, leverage strengths, and plan strategically for market opportunities.
The framework is important for detecting power players and potential shifts in marketplace power. It answers the questions: Who holds the cards now? Who can hold them in the future? And under what conditions? For example, in a recession, a designer handbag company might face a profit decline because consumers no longer have the discretionary income for luxury purchases.
Start your SWOT
Now that you have a granular insight into the internal and external elements affecting your business, you can draft the SWOT. Keep it simple. Don’t go with ornate sentences. This is about a short, specific list of essentials.
Once you create a working draft of your SWOT, you want to layer in supportive data, the elements that validate or debunk your story. Your internal data sources could include macro figures, such as sales, gross margin, net revenue (or income), total cash on hand (i.e., liquidity), assets, and liabilities. Your micro data sources could include website traffic and conversions, newsletter sign-ups and CTR (click-through rate), PPC (pay-per-click), display and retargeting ad performance, customer churn rate, CRM (customer relationship management), and customer care performance—the list is endless. You can also factor in any proprietary primary research you’ve conducted on the market and/or your customers.
In terms of external data sources, an extraordinary amount of online tools can help you evaluate competitor public data, including social media, SEM, and digital strategy and performance. If the company is public, you can view shareholder reports, stock prices, and quarterly/annual earnings calls and reports. Companies often work with third-party agencies to assess competitor traditional PR campaigns and media buys.
You also have access to a treasure trove of secondary research that can give you vital information about your customer and market. I like to think of external analysis in concentric circles. On the outermost layer are macro industry and consumer trends, and closer to the center are segments and subsegments of the macro insights and trends.
For example, let’s say you own a chain of casual dining restaurants. Market data is telling you that consumers are increasingly abandoning your model in favor of fast casual (i.e., Chipotle, Shake Shack, Five Guys) and there’s an uptick in eating at home. People are either after the value and taste of fast casual dining or they’re stocking up at the supermarket to cook at home. Macro consumer trends show that people are busier than ever, they don’t have time to sit down in restaurants, and they want to be smart about their discretionary spending. If you want to dig deeper, you might examine your demographic and psychographic differences and nuances, as well as what direct competitors are doing to combat the trend and whether they’ve been successful. You went from a broad understanding of competitor and customer trends and narrowed it down to discover that upper-middle-class millennials in urban areas are less likely to dine at your restaurant. Or maybe you noticed one of your direct competitors offering delivery via Postmates and Grubhub as a means to create options that align with their target’s behavioral shift.
The goal is to use the big picture to get into the details so you can make your SWOT as relevant to your business as possible.
There are additional SWOT examples from Amazon, Coca-Cola, Tesla, and a host of other great examples.
This great video is an example of a SWOT created for Starbucks:
Time to map your game plan
What’s the use of putting all that effort into an analysis only to let the whiteboards and PowerPoints collect dust? Your SWOT is only as effective as your action plan. Once you’ve identified what needs to be accomplished, create short- and long-term strategies with SMART goals. The objectives are simple:
People around the world argue about it--Which way should toilet paper face? There are advantages for each side, but in the end, there is an undisputable answer.
To talk about what makes designers great, we first have to talk about what design is.
On a fundamental level, design is meant to show the intent that exists behind an action or an object in a clear way. Great design strips away all possible interpretations of intent, leaving only one. Great design is unambiguous, meaning that it’s not open to more than one interpretation. For any design to be great, everyone should be able to understand its intent, regardless of their background, experience, and taste. I’m sure that you can imagine how achieving that level of clarity can be incredibly difficult.
Within the context of software, a designer must be empathetic to the user’s pain. She must then extend that empathy to a more important place — understanding. Understanding not only of the problem, but the context in which it exists, and how to fix it.
A designer who incessantly works at her craft will undoubtedly get better. While the quality of her work will keep increasing, practice alone doesn’t make a good designer great. What differentiates one from the other is not a difference of quality, it is a difference of kind. Not what to make, but how and why to make it.
A Difference of Kind.
A specialist is someone who excels at one thing, and approaches their work in a formulaic way.
Think of a UI/UX designer who’s at the top of her game. She is able to take any piece of software and design beautiful, easy-to-use navigation for it. With time, her approach to designing UI may become formulaic, regardless of what app she’s working on. The framework for helping customers “get from A to B, do X” becomes habitual because she understands their problems, and designs solutions that satisfy their needs.
Do you remember thermostats before Nest? They were all infuriatingly difficult to use because the path to their programmable features was obscured by poorly designed navigation. Nest came along and said, “Nonsense! Here’s a big dial — turn left for ‘cooler’ and right for ‘warmer.’ This thing will remember what you like. You shouldn’t have to think about your thermostat — it should think about you.”
Consider the implications of that kind of design approach.
It starts with the user experience and works backwards to the technology. By figuring out why a problem exists in the first place, a great designer doesn’t just mitigate its effects — she can eliminate the problem completely. Being a specialist, even one with a broad skill set, is not enough to arrive at that result. A systemic (or holistic, if you will) approach is needed.
A Generalist Approach.
Being a great writer is not about being good at English or putting words in a sentence. It’s about communicating thoughts clearly and knowing which thoughts deserve being written. By that analogy, being a technically competent designer doesn’t automatically solve anyone’s problems. Technical skills should be a complement to people skills like empathy and emotional intelligence.
Consider that each problem has three parts — what the problem is, why it exists, and how to solve it. Because of that, best design solutions often come through the cross-pollination of ideas and varied fields of knowledge. The what (identifying a problem) is the easiest step because we feel its effects. We experience some pain and want to eliminate it.
The why is infinitely more difficult to figure out because of our reliance on common knowledge and intuition when looking for an answer. To figure out the why, a designer must exercise deliberate thinking to distill the problem to one indisputable fact — the foundation or the first principle. Not “what is the problem?” but “why is the problem?” A great designer must make it her starting point because the answer to that question will inform the how of solving a design problem. The how is where technical skills are most important and being a generalist puts one at a massive advantage. Myriad of ways to solve any given problem exist but only one may be optimal — the one that eliminates it altogether.
An Opinionated Approach.
Harry Beck was an electrical draftsman employed by the London Underground in the 1930s. This was the time when London Underground used topological (geographically accurate) maps that were a nightmare to read because they looked like this:
Harry Beck felt that the map was bad for the soul, and in his spare time designed a map that looked like this:
Beck’s map was originally rejected because it went against existing expectations for what maps were supposed to look like. Next time you take public transit, take a look at the map, and appreciate the fact that it’s a descendant of the one above. The opinionated map that defied convention in favour of clarity and good user experience.
Here’s a more contemporary example. Before June 27, 2007 when the first generation iPhone was introduced to the world, most smartphones looked like this:
Great designers have strong opinions about what the world should look like, even when those opinions go directly against common wisdom and what is expected. One of my favourite book covers is for a book by Augusten Burroughs called Dry. It was designed by Chip Kidd and looks like this:
How easy do you think it would have been to make that cover look actually dried and withered?
A great designer needs to exercise strong opinions, making them come to life through skilful execution. It’s worth noting that “opinionated” is not the same as “being loud with one’s opinions.” A great designer doesn’t feel contempt towards people who use her product, and never assumes they are too stupid to understand it. It is her job to arrive at a solution that is unambiguous. It is her duty to hold strong conviction about what the world should look like, while exercising humility in the arduous process of making it better.
The difference between a good designer and a great designer is not a difference of quality. It is a difference of kind.
CNBC traveled to Harrodsburg, Kentucky to get a rare look inside Corning’s oldest glass factory where it makes Gorilla Glass for iPhones and a variety of other devices. The factory runs 24/7 and human hands never touch the glass — only air and robots. Take a look inside to see how it's made.
In the middle of bluegrass and bourbon country in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, is Corning's oldest glass factory. It was built in the 1950s to create lenses for glasses and then in the 1980s it transitioned into making LCD glass panels.
But about six months before the first iPhone was released in 2007, Steve Jobs made a call to the CEO of Corning and asked the company to create glass that could withstand scratches and breakage for a new Apple product. Before that, phones were typically covered in plastic. Corning quickly developed Gorilla Glass, and this factory went through a complete transformation.
The same company that developed the glass for the Edison bulb in 1879, is now making the glass that covers 6 billion smartphones, tablets, screens and wearables worldwide for Apple, Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei and a variety of other manufacturers.