Posts tagged with "Business"

Billionaires Gain, Workers Feel Pain

Half a year into a paralyzing pandemic that has cost millions of Americans their livelihoods and lives, the nation’s 643 billionaires have racked up $845 billion in collective wealth gains, a 29% leap since March 18. America’s billionaires reached this startling milestone of wealth accumulation even as special federal relief was drying up for millions of unemployed workers and for hard-pressed state and local governments struggling to provide vital services. Billionaire figures are from Forbes analyzed in a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place—and Sept. 15, the total net worth of the nation’s billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion (see table below and this spreadsheet of all billionaires). That works out to gains of $141 billion a month, $32 billion a week, or $4.7 billion a day. Forbes’ annual billionaires report was published March 18, 2020, and the real-time data was collected Sept. 15 from the Forbes website.

Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well. From mid-March to mid-August, the collective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees—all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82% of the workforce—declined by 4.4.%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In fact, this billionaires’ bonanza occurred against a general backdrop of working-class pain:

The stock market in which billionaires have much of their money invested dropped sharply in the month before the pandemic lockdown. But the six months of gains that followed were not merely a reversal of those losses: billionaires are also $680 billion, or 22%, richer today than they were in February 2019, the release date of the most recent previous Forbes annual report (see table below).

“Every candidate in this campaign season, from presidential hopeful down, who’s pledging to lead us out of the coronavirus crisis must address this stark divergence between the nation’s wealthiest elite and their struggling fellow citizens,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “The answer starts with creating a fair share tax system that narrows obscene wealth gaps and raises the trillions of dollars needed to address the present emergency and invest in our families and communities over the long-term.”

“The billionaire economy has been turbocharged by policymakers who are now stalling on relief for the real economy,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality and co-author of the report “Billionaire Bonanza 2020.” “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of our elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down.”

DATA ON THE WEALTH OF U.S. BILLIONAIRES AT 6 MONTHS & 20 MONTHS AVAILABLE HERE

Even among billionaires, wealth is highly concentrated. Roughly $400 billion, or only a little less than half of the total gains, were captured by just the 15 wealthiest on the billionaires list. The top three gainers alone—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk—enjoyed fully 16% of the spoils, or a collective wealth surge of $137 billion. The total wealth of these three—$403 billion today—is nearly three times the $1.5 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, or 165 million Americans. One billionaire from Michigan, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, saw his wealth increase an astonishing 672%, growing from $6.5 billion to $50.2 billion.

The $845 billion wealth gain by 643 billionaires over the past six months far exceeds the:

Low-wage workerspeople of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises because of long-standing racial and gender disparities. Billionaires are overwhelmingly white men.

House Democrats passed a relief bill back in May that offered a lifeline to Americans not sharing in the billionaires’ good fortune during the pandemic. Among its provisions:

All of the above data is available in one table here.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have introduced legislation for a 60% tax on the pandemic wealth gains of billionaires between March 18 and the end of the year and use the proceeds to help working Americans cover healthcare costs.

4 Ways to Grow Your Beauty Website

By Katie Lundin

Whether you sell make-up, haircare, or skincare products, run a beauty salon, nail bar, barbershop, or spa… as a beauty industry insider, you know that looks are important.

This is especially true when it comes to the way people judge websites.

How a website looks is important. In fact, seventy-five percent of people judge the credibility of a business based on its website.

If your beauty website looks bad, it’s turning potential clients away.

Here are 4 proven techniques to help your beauty website win more customers.

1. Showcase your unique brand

Just as you help your clients to look the best version of themselves, your website design must showcase your brand’s unique identity.

This is especially important for new beauty businesses. If you’re putting together your business plan while preparing to start a new beauty business, don’t overlook the importance of creating a strong visual identity for your business.

After all, clients don’t want to look like everyone else. They want to showcase their own unique self. And, they look to see if your beauty business stands out in unique ways and offers something special and different.

For example, if your website uses a generic template and looks like thousands of other salons, nail care, or makeup sites, people won’t be able to differentiate you from your many competitors.

In fact, this is true for every aspect of your company’s brand identity, including your business name and your company logo. Both must be unique if you want to build a brand that stands out and attracts great clients.

The differentiating factors that make your business unique must be visible so that your clients and prospective clients (the people who are naturally attracted to your brand’s mission, aesthetic, and personality) can identify you.

A well-designed website will show what makes your beauty business unique and attract those clients.

And don’t be deterred by the price of custom website design. Some beauty business owners worry that the cost of website design can be prohibitively high.

It’s true that many design companies and agencies charge thousands of dollars for their services. But this isn’t universally true (crowdspring’s custom website designprojects start at just $899, including all fees).

Action items:

● Work with a strong design team to develop a brand-informed logo. Then use that logo as the guide for your website’s visual design and all subsequent visual branding.

● Prioritize customization – avoid generic web design templates that don’t allow you to customize.

● Choose fonts (no more than 2-3), colors, graphics, and photos, that evoke your brand’s personality.

● Include content on your website that speaks with your brand’s voice. Be sure to let your personality shine through.

2. Design your website for fast load speeds

As we emphasized in our guide on how to start a business,

Your website is one of your new business’s most important ambassadors and a crucial component of your marketing and branding strategy.

Between seconds 4 and 5 of your website’s load time, 20% of viewers have already left your site.

Not only that, the faster your website loads, the higher it ranks with search engines. So, the easier it is for people to find.

3. Make it easy for guests to book appointments

Are you a make-up artist, stylist, barber, or cosmetologist?

Then you need an integrated booking system for your website.

Service-oriented beauty businesses rely on bookings. But, managing your schedule takes time away from the tasks that actually get you paid – like cutting hair, applying makeup, or performing facials.

And guests have come to expect to be able to book online. The cat’s already out of the bag.

So, if your website doesn’t support online booking, it’ll look inferior to your competitors who do offer that convenient feature.

On the other hand, if you’re the first salon, nail bar, or barbershop in your market to enable people to schedule appointments online, you’ll have a natural advantage over your competition.

And, there are free salon-booking software apps! So, the cost isn’t a barrier. There’s no excuse not to impress potential customers with the convenience of online scheduling.

Action items:

● Check out these tried and true online booking options:

Fresha – This free online scheduling tool (formerly known as “Shedul”) is packed with features designed specifically for businesses in the beauty and wellness industry. There is also a paid version, but Fresha’s free service can definitely stand on its own.

Schedulicity – Schedulicity is another powerful online booking software. This service offers a la carte pricing that allows you to customize your service so you’re only paying for the features you need.

Timely – Timely claims to be the world’s smartest online booking software. You can test their claim yourself with their free trial. Once your trial is over, you can continue with Timely for low monthly rates tiered to grow with the size of your team.

● Choose an online booking service and integrate it with your website for easy, automated bookings.

● If you don’t currently sell custom-branded beauty products, consider adding your own unique line. Many manufacturers will let you private label their productsand you’ll just need to create custom packaging design to showcase your own unique brand.

4. Show your style and skill with photos

Concrete examples are more powerful than vague promises.

Every beauty business claims to make people look good. But, including pictures of your work (or people wearing your products) on your website shows that you can really deliver.

And, beauty is subjective. Your products or services aren’t for everyone. They’re for the people who share your aesthetic.

Posting pictures that showcase your brand’s unique style will attract customers who share it. So, you’ll gain, and retain, more customers.

So, incorporate photos into your website that demonstrate your skill and your style. Show potential clients that you can be trusted to make them look and feel beautiful.

Action items:

● If you’re a freelancer, create a gallery showcasing your best manicures, hair color clients, or make-up applications. (And always ask permission before sharing any photos of your clients.)

● Do you run a salon or spa? Then dedicate a page to each team member and include a gallery of their best work.

● If you manufacture beauty products, encourage your clients to share pictures of themselves wearing your products on Instagram with a custom hashtag. Then embed a widget into your website that automatically displays those photos.

● Allow customers to upload pictures with their product reviews.

If you want to be the next Sephora or Glossier, you must have stellar branding. And, that includes a professional, custom website that shows the world what your beauty brand is all about.

About Author:

Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring’s award-winning small business blog.

Mike Piazza Launches TRUE Vodka

Today, Mike Piazza launches TRUE Vodka, his bespoke Italian-made vodka brand, in collaboration with GrapeStars, the one-stop shop for celebrity wine and spirits. Piazza is a former baseball player with the NY Mets, and is a Hall of Famer for his time as a player with them.

Piazza is bringing TRUE Vodka to consumers as a nod to his Italian heritage, something he’s always wanted to honor in a big way. Consumers nationwide will have first-time access to enjoy TRUE Vodka at home and have it delivered directly to their doorsteps with the ease of GrapeStars, the exclusive retailer for TRUE Vodka.

RUE Vodka is made from mixed rye and wheat grains from Italy and uses specially purified water from the springs of Tuscany, making it incredibly smooth. The high-quality vodka is produced by a seven times distillation process by legendary supplier of spirits, Caffo, in the Distelleria Friulia. TRUE Vodka has been awarded the prestigious gold medal for best bottle design at the FESPA awards in 2017 and has been picked 9 out of 10 times in blind taste tests against other leading premium vodka brands.

“Mike Piazza hit many majestic home runs in a Mets uniform as part of his Hall of Fame career, and Mike is hitting another home run with True Vodka,” stated Mets Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer Lou DePaoli.

“I have been a long-time Mike Piazza fan and cannot overstate how thrilled we are to team up with him. Bringing TRUE Vodka into his fans’ homes is a huge milestone for GrapeStars and we’re extremely proud to be part of the TRUE Vodka journey,” shared GrapeStars Co-Founder and CEO, Jean-Jean Pelletier.

TRUE Vodka embraces Italian craftsmanship is and produced by a seven times distillation process in Caffo’s Distelleria Friulia. To learn more about the premium vodka, tune into The GrapeStars Podcast interview with Mike Piazza

Digital illustration for 360 Magazine

Brand Building In A Recession

Building Your Brand During A Recession

By Lauren Howe and Teri Uyovbievbo, co-founders of up-and-coming South Bay marketing start-up, The Social Block

The onset of COVID-19 has ultimately ended a decade-long trend of economic growth in the United States. In it’s place, we now have the highest rates of unemployment since the Great Depression. The unprecedented economic downturn has also ushered in the swift demise of formerly successful corporations.

Although COVID-19 has brought difficulty to many businesses, the high rate of unemployment has left many to focus on what was previously their side-hustle or freelance work. A small percentage of job prospects has left us with gig work, using our marketable skills and furthering our educations.

While this is a difficult time to build a brand, it isn’t impossible. In lieu of attending meetings, speaking on panels and networking in the community, placing the focus instead on the company’s current messaging, graphics, website, public relations, social media and marketing efforts is essential. In order to get your brand in the spotlight, you’ll need to create a memorable logo so that people recognize your brand as soon as they see your awesome logo. COVID has thrust the world into a work-from-home, online shopping, and food delivery reality. Building your brand during this time is not only the smartest move for your start-up or business – it is the only move that will keep you competitive in a post-COVID world. The following steps are what we at The Social Block do for ourselves to build our brand, as well as what we would always suggest to clients.

Take relationship building digital

We know that nothing can replace face-to-face interactions and networking, but in a digital world, it’s not enough to just do one. Looking out for media opportunities, offering discounted services to local non-profits to support your community, participating in roundtables, panel discussions and curating a well-managed social media presence are all essential ways to build your brand online.

Social media has been, and is continuing to be, a method of providing customer service and increasing brand loyalty. Although the recession may be limiting those buying or product or using your service, communicating with your target audience, asking for their success stories or feedback, and showing that you listen, care and are engaged, will keep your business top of mind and keep business flowing when the economy stabilizes.

Don’t stop marketing

Depending on your product or service, you can choose from email or mail campaigns, utilizing ad space in relevant publications, or targeting your audience directly through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn ads. It’s not enough to leave your growth to organic views, shares and customer/client reviews. Getting new traffic in the door and fresh eyes on your business will increase your brand awareness.

Even if COVID may cause a delay in conversions or results, you want to be one of the services or products on your target audience’s list to try after your area has reopened and the economy begins to repair itself.

Assess where your brand is at currently

It may be time to take a hard look at what branding you had going on before COVID, and determine if it is time to make a change. Is your website difficult to navigate wit outdated items? Is your social media active, and is it used to build relationships with potential clients or customers, or is it used almost as a “personal” account, full of successes and company outings? Are you participating in speaking engagements and interacting in you community? Are your graphics, presentations, business cards and logo truly representative of what you do?

Take a hard look at where each area stands, and be honest about what could change. At first glance, are you truly giving off the impression you want?

Times are tough, but it’s an opportunity to pause, reflect and rethink the way you do business.

Cash and wallet illustration for 360 Magazine

The Business Comeback After COVID-19

Business Turnaround Expert Cites Keys to a COVID-19 Comeback

By Merilee Kern, MBA ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

The September 11th attacks. The Great Recession. The COVID-19 pandemic.

All three of these seismic and tragic events have resulted in heartbreak to humanity, including loss of life and our emotional well-being – both individually and collectively. Of course, accompanying these global crises were monetary meltdowns reminiscent of the Great Depression that commenced in 1929 and lingered until the late 1930s.

After a “relatively” calm 70 years, the United States economy has suffered three devastating developments inside the last two decades, alone. There have been wars fought throughout the world and inflation escalations along the way, to be sure, but the start to the 21st century has suffered escalating and unusually concentrated economic calamities – some that have profoundly altered the very fabric of our lives, both personally and professionally.

Indeed, on the business front, such periods have been among the most – perhaps the unequivocal most – trying of times. Amid current circumstances as the coronavirus rages on around the globe, I recently connected with internationally-renowned business restructuring executive James “Jim” Martin, founder of ACM Capital Partners with offices in Charlotte, Denver and Miami. Having spent the last three decades leading international middle-market companies through periods of distress and transition to actualize stability and growth, Martin is uniquely well-positioned to share insights on how business can rally to best assure a “COVID comeback.” Here’s what he had to say.

MK: First, before addressing the current coronavirus situation, what can you tell us about how you’ve helped companies navigate previous “rough waters?”

JM: Relative to the September 11th attacks back in 2001, I’ll share a representative example of a strategic pivot that didn’t just help a company survive, but actually drove profit. After that horrendous event, I stepped in to assist a large aviation maintenance repair-and-overhaul facility whose revenue had been cut fully in half immediately following the attacks – the result of many carriers permanently parking older aircraft (including the 727 fleet). The sizable challenge presented was to maintain a 1000-person labor force while allowing the industry the necessary time to recover. To do so, we created a captive subcontracting company to which we transferred one-third of our labor force. During our troughs, we contracted this labor to our competitors and, during peak periods, we utilized this labor for ourselves. Thus, not only were we able to retain our skilled, well-oriented labor force during the recovery, but that very staff actually provided additional, supplemental profit. The end result was that we sold the business for $138 million, which provided our new investors with a 33 percent internal rate of return (IRR).

Less than a decade after 9/11, amid The Great Recession in 2008, I entered another industry that proved to be among the most brutalized by a global economic downturn: automotive supply. My client was a key supplier to the “Big 3” U.S. auto manufacturers.

At the start of 2008, the industry forecast was the production of 18 million vehicles in North America. Come summer, however, it was clear the automakers would not come near reaching that forecast due to the financial crisis. This did not come as a complete surprise to us, though, because – amid our firm’s protocols – we had had already fully immersed ourselves in our client’s industry and employed forecasting tools alerting us of trends … this one in the wrong direction. So, we were privy to the situation well before management and others within the industry. By late June 2008, we instituted cost-cutting maneuvers and furloughs that enabled the company to withstand the industry’s brutal second half of ’08 that would result in two of the “Big 3” automakers filing for Chapter 11. Despite the industry producing less than half – as much as eight million – of its original vehicle-production forecast, our client not only survived, but ultimately grew and prospered.

MK: Turning attentions to COVID-19, what do you feel is integral for businesses to survive and recover?

JM: For businesses to recover from the coronavirus shutdown, it’s going to take a two-pronged approach: both financial and human capital. Starting with the financial, it will be a “loan-ly” world for those not well-versed in the intricacies of SBA, PPP and other “economic disaster” lending. Consider how expeditiously those programs were rolled out. Then consider how even more quickly they were scooped up. Did anyone really read those loan documents in full, or even halfway through, initially – or even to this day?

My guess is at least half of the companies receiving COVID-related loans took a very “CliffsNotes” approach to these agreements. The result is there’s a solid chance funds were used incorrectly, which is going to make a lot of the loans, shall we say, less “forgivable.” For example, if your company’s payroll roster is shorter today than it was pre-virus, the portion of the loans forgiven is likely to be less.

And while your mind may rush to claiming ignorance and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the government to which you already pay taxes, realize that third-party capital is likely to participate in this market through securitization. This means that thousands of SBA loans could be bought, then packaged to be sold to the secondary market, at a discounted rate, no less. If this happens, understand that the purchasers will have the full intention of holding their borrowers (i.e. small business owners) to paying back 100 cents on the dollar.

So, those companies who received loans and are required, but unable, to pay them back in full may be exposed to either foreclosure or, worse, a “loan to own” scenario. In other words, much like the agreement that comes with your big-tech user agreements, like those prompting users to “click agree,” the fine print matters.

What this means to recovery is that, once again, cash is king: gather it, preserve it, cease lines of credit, liquidate what you can, negotiate costs down with suppliers. And if your company had a healthy bottom line pre-COVID, than a professional familiar with these trenches can help you look to refinance or bring in equity.

With all of that said, the key to a COVID-19 recovery is going to be adhering to the rules of a lender’s road, as well as the ability to navigate the red tape when you veer off that road. If you have read all the fine print and properly managed your loan, congratulations! You’ve acquired some really cheap capital. For those who didn’t do their research, however, this road to recovery likely will need some paving.

MK: What about the human capital you mentioned?

JM: Yes, and then we arrive at the human capital. Lots of companies today are excessively top-heavy. Remember the part about removing emotions from this process? Companies that quickly recognize cuts need to be made will be better positioned to recover than those who dawdle. Again, compiling and preserving cash is going to best position a business for recovery.

This is an instance where it’s especially beneficial to know when to pull triggers (best if earlier than others) and to make decisions that are not based on emotions—a tall order for many CEOs, which is why many turn to turnaround experts. However it’s undertaken, what’s certain is that reducing human capital is painful, but it is also often necessary and almost always beneficial.

The upside is that, when the virus no longer exits, businesses can already be well-positioned for a fairly quick recovery. Maybe not v-shaped sans a vaccine, but quick relatively speaking due to the downturn having been so specific to one singular causing factor.

MK: Tell us a bit about your role as – and general value of – a turnaround expert when turmoil strikes a business.

JM: During times of difficulty, owners and executives can greatly benefit from specialized knowledge that’ll help them best navigate those unchartered waters that are often entangled in a lot of red tape. So, turnaround experts bring to the table a litany of tried-and-true “been there, weathered that” experience and expertise. There’s simply no substitute for engaging with a partner whose entire mandate is ensuring your company’s survival and success during some of the most grim and challenging times it might experience – those professionals who are willing to spend sleepless nights figuring out how to ensure the company meets payroll; who’ll work around the clock to keep the company’s doors open; and who can tackle challenges without being hindered by emotions that understandably weigh on a business owner or manager. It takes this kind of specialized expertise, experience and grit to lead companies through periods of distress and transition, to stability and growth.

No stranger to corporate chaos, during Martin’s own three decades as a globally-regarded turnaround expert, he has reportedly created and restored nearly $1.5 billion in value to lower middle-market companies; raised an additional $1 billion in capital; and managed mergers and acquisitions in excess of $500 million – all collectively representing his company restructuring portfolio valuation in excess of $3 billion.

Today, as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on business operations far and wide, take heed that there are various key strategic and creative tactics that can help businesses not only weather the storm, but even emerge stronger and more financially secure on the other side.

About Merilee Kern:

Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the nationally-syndicated “Savvy Living” TV show. As a prolific consumer and business trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. You can connect with Merilee at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv

Follow Merilee Kern:  Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIN

Wine illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

South African Wine Crisis

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) USA, the industry association that promotes the exports of South African wine, is calling on members of the wine trade, media and consumers to support the South African wine industry by buying and drinking South African wine. The ban on alcohol, currently back in place in South Africa, could be potentially devastating to the wine industry.

The South African wine industry has been hit especially hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country having experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. The country’s lockdown and prohibition on the sale of alcohol began at the end of March, which included a ban on wine exports. Wine industry associations and organizations came together to lobby against the decision, and, thankfully, the ban on exports was lifted effective May 1. 

However, the prohibition of alcohol sales in South Africa remained for over two months, until it was lifted on June 1, for at-home consumption. Restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen in mid-June. Yet with the rationale of the need to free up hospital beds occupied by those suffering from alcohol-related traumas, the South African government reintroduced the latest ban on alcohol on July 13, which is still in effect, with no definitive end date.

The new regulations include both on and off-premise sales, so it is affecting not only wineries, but restaurant workers as well. Those in the wine and hospitality industry have been taking to the streets to protest and put pressure on the government to allow for on-premise sales for sit-down restaurants.

The alcohol ban brings a significant risk to the economic and socioeconomic sustainability of both the South African wine industry and the country as a whole, along with risking the livelihoods of rural communities who are directly affected due to the financial implications from an industry that could quite likely see devastation.

The wine industry creates close to 300,000 jobs directly and indirectly, and is South Africa’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products. As an industry, the contribution to the GDP for the South African economy exceeds more than $2.6 billion annually. The liquor industry as a whole has a deep value chain in the country, employing almost one million people. 

The government’s decision has serious economic consequences, placing hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at risk. Many of South Africa’s wine producers are small and family run. It has been estimated that one in five wineries may not survive.

South African wine exports make up roughly 50% of the total production. Since exports of South African wine are still allowed, support overseas is crucial. The US, and other export markets, can play a vital role and make a difference in keeping the industry alive. We are urging those in the trade and media to spread the word, and to educate and encourage consumers to support the South African wine industry by purchasing and drinking South African wines. Keep the discussion and support going on social media with the hashtag #DrinkSouthAfrican.

WOSA USA has some great resources on its website. For those in the wine trade, a list of importers of South African wine is available. For those looking for local retail shops that carry South African wine, a list of retailers across the country can be accessed on the site.

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is the organization representing all South African producers of wine who export their products. WOSA, which was established in its current form in 1999, has over 500 exporters on its database, comprising all the major South African wine exporters. It is constituted as a not-for-profit company and is totally independent of any producer, wholesaling company or government department but is recognized by the South African Export Council. WOSA’s mandate is to promote the export of all South African wines in key international markets including the United States.

Pitbull × Wyland × National League of Cities

Wyland kicks off his 9th nationwide campaign for conservation August 1 in support of Water Quality Month. The program, which was postponed in April due to coronavirus, encourages residents across America to make small changes in their lives to better manage our water resources and improve the health of our ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Conservation partners this year include Pitbull, mayors across the country and the National League of Cities among others.

“It’s more important than ever to maintain smart habits that support the health of the world around us — especially when it comes to our water and air, “ said marine-life artist and conservationist Wyland. “If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that we can change behaviors for the benefit of everybody.”

Participants can win thousands in eco-friendly prizes at www.mywaterpledge.com starting August 1.

Wyland is available for interviews as is Wyland Foundation President, Steve Creech.

Everyone is invited to share how they are doing their part with hashtag #mywaterpledge. Examples include:

* I use cloth shopping bags instead of plastic. #mywaterpledge
* Instead of plastic water bottles, I switched to reusable containers. #mywaterpledge
* I helped clean up my local beach this weekend! #mywaterpledge
* I biked to the store instead of using my car. #mywaterpledge #airquality

About the National Mayors’ Challenge for Water Conservation

The annual Wyland National Mayors’ Challenge for Water Conservation will relaunch in August as part of national water quality month, Aug. 1-30. The program, which was postponed in April due to coronavirus, encourages residents across America to make small changes in their lives to better manage our water resources and improve the health of our ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands.

Presented nationally by the Wyland Foundation, the campaign rewards residents who take part with a chance to win $3,000 toward their home utility bills, home irrigation makeovers, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and hundreds more eco-friendly prizes. Residents can also nominate a deserving charity in their city to receive a 2020 new-generation Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE. Cities with the most residents that make pledges qualify for over $50,000 in prize drawings. Residents make their pledges online at www.mywaterpledge.com throughout the month of August.

Encouraging Green Living

In the wake of the current pandemic, the campaign will provide residents with more opportunities to get involved safely from home, including making water-friendly lifestyle changes on behalf of their city, undertaking home-based environmental projects that add up to cleaner, safer communities, and sharing tips and strategies with friends and neighbors. Last year, mayors from 39 states encouraged residents to make more than 740,000 pledges to promote drought resiliency, protect watersheds, and reduce stress on aging water infrastructure.

“It’s more important than ever to maintain smart habits that support the health of the world around us — especially when it comes to our water and air, “ said marine life artist and conservationist Wyland. “If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that we can change behaviors for the benefit of everybody.”

Green Homeschooling

Despite school closures, teachers working remotely are also encouraged to engage their students to take part by accessing a special section of the website to make a series of water-saving commitments with their classes and win classroom supplies and gift cards for their school.

Partners

The non-profit campaign, which has included numerous live events, educational tours, and hundreds of city-led activities over the past decade, is presented in association with The Toro Company, EPA WaterSense, National League of Cities, Conserva Irrigation, and Earth Friendly Products (makers of ECOS) and PETAL (withpetal.com sustainable personal care products which reduce waste and take the dirt out of clean.) The Challenge encourages residents to follow their city’s progress throughout the month and to use that information to encourage friends, neighbors, businesses, and civic groups to get involved.

Working From Home illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Google Employees Home Until Summer 2021

By Eamonn Burke

Google has just announced that it will keep its employees working from home until July 2021, extending the previous mandate that was set to end after 2020. According to a spokesman, the reasoning by Google CEO Sundar Pichai for this extension was “To give employees the ability to plan ahead” and to help them “balance work with taking care of yourselves.” Certain employees, as stated in the previous plan, will be allowed to return sooner. Google has also partially opened some offices in other countries, although the extension applies to all major offices in places like the U.K and India.

Over 200,000 employees, across Google and its parent company Alphabet, will be affected by the decision made by Pichai last week after a conference with Google Leads.

Although other major tech companies like Microsoft and Apple still promise to bring employees back this year, the move is predicted to influence many similar companies to move in a similar direction as Google. The CEO of one such company, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, expects that they will begin to move permanently toward remote work.

Jean Button illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Covid-19 on Clothes

By Eamonn Burke

As a relatively new virus, new information is coming out about Covid-19 every day. While much is known, such as the fact that it spreads through air and is most dangerous to the elderly, there is much that remains unknown.

One of these unanswered questions is that if clothing: can the coronavirus survive on clothing? What we do know from evidence is that the virus can in fact live on other surfaces like plastic and steel for up to nine days. There is no evidence, however, that answers the question about clothes.

What we do know is that viruses similar to Covid – MERS, SARS – do not survive on clothes, as they are porous surfaces that can trap the virus and dry it out. A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine corroborates this, finding the probability of the virus being transferred through clothing is low. However, another study did find that the virus can live on shoes.

While the most important protective measures against COVID-19 remain social distancing and wearing masks, the CDC still recommends to air on the side of caution and wash clothes, specifically on the warmest setting to dry them out. The findings also pose issue for companies who need to handle clothing returns. Many large companies like Macy’s and Gap have amended their return policies to consider this, but it is also important for small businesses to do the same.

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Krenicki Center Webinar Series

The John and Donna Krenicki Center for Business Analytics and Machine Learning in Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management will begin hosting a monthly webinar series that brings together speakers from academia and industry to talk about different topics of interest.

The first of the series, scheduled for 3-4 p.m. (EDT) July 14, will focus on two important and current issues.

Tom Aliff, senior vice president of Equifax, will discuss the economic and credit- trending elements and impacts of COVID-19. Krannert professor Karthik Kannan will address the notion of unfairness/bias that can creep into machine learning algorithms as analytics are increasingly used.

Kannan is Purdue’s Thomas Howatt Chaired Professor in Management and director of the John and Donna Krenicki Center for Business Analytics and Machine Learning. The center is used for conducting research, student-led consulting projects, conferences and competitions.

“Our center connects businesses with Purdue researchers to find answers to data-driven business challenges,” Kannan says. “We team faculty and graduate students from science, engineering, agriculture and management to utilize business data analytics to solve deep specialized problems.”

To register and receive updates and instructions on how to join the upcoming webinar on Zoom, click here.