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The sound level in the world’s quietest room is -13 decibels. 

A pin-drop is nothing. Idle for a while in the anechoic (non-echoing) chamber at Minneapolis’ Orfield Laboratories, Inc., and you might pick up on the sound of your own heart beating. As strangely cool as that is, not everyone can tolerate the average half-hour needed for their ears to acclimate to the eerie sensation of negative sound levels. “People normally walk into our minus-decibel chamber [from] a 60- or 70-decibel world,” says Steven Orfield, the research firm’s founder. The unsettling lack of auditory cues sends some folks packing in minutes. Good thing the room’s usual occupants are inanimate—the space is used for acoustic tests on items like washing machines and cellphone displays. Sounds fascinating, but we’ll seek our peace and quiet someplace louder.

 

 

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Hotel Ella

As the saying goes, “Everything old is new again.” That’s never been truer than at this boutique hotel, a Classical Revival–style mansion from 1900 that opened this past fall after a six-month renovation. Located a few blocks west of The University of Texas at Austin, the property—which landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975—was built by Dr. Goodall Wooten, the son of one of UT’s original regents. Legend has it that his wife, after whom the hotel was named, chose to add the stately exterior columns in 1910 instead of taking a trip around the world. Today, the handsome hideaway boasts 47 rooms, 10 of which are tucked inside the original home. (You’ll find the other 37 in a sleek, art-filled annex.) From the carefully executed old-timey cocktails—think “prescriptions” and “cures”—at Goodall’s Kitchen & Bar to the decidedly modern pool area, we think you’ll agree that this freshly polished grand dame is indeed ready for her reemergence.

Airport Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) Rate From $339 

 

While You’re There 

Stroll the Bremond Block Historic District to admire its 11 Victorian-era homes on a free weekend walking tour courtesy of the city’s CVB.

Eye the 17,000-piece collection of European, American, and Latin American works at The Blanton Museum of Art, located on UT’s campus. 

Sip craft cocktails at Freedmen’s, an upscale barbecue joint housed in an 1869 building constructed by George Franklin, a former slave. 

 

 

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Russell Simmons, author and hip-hop/fashion mogul  

How do you maintain a sense of calm under pressure?
“Early in my career, I believed that the stress I was feeling—and the worrying and the insomnia—was part of being successful. Yet, the minute I started making a conscious effort to let go of those things, I became more productive. Relieving the anxiety in your life is essential to being a good businessperson. If that’s gone, the mind is calm, and from a calm mind comes creativity. Every morning when I wake up and every evening before I go to bed, I sit still for 20 minutes and let my thoughts settle. Those moments of stillness are where my greatest ideas come from—every creative thought, every innovative business plan. If you can eliminate the outside noise, you’ll find that the answers are inside you.”

The co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and founder of Phat Fashions recently released his fourth book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple.

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The Decoy

“It’s fun to introduce people to something cool and new, but we also like creating cocktails using flavors that are familiar. While these ingredients may not be typically found together, they’re all easily recognizable—and might remind you of a punch or lemonade that you had in your backyard as a kid. The name of the drink comes from its appearance. Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka is dark red, and the hibiscus syrup deepens that. The cocktail’s color makes it look a little imposing, as if you’re getting a Negroni up, but it’s actually smooth and sweet. You don’t expect it to be fruity—it looks a lot different than it tastes.”

Who Lou Charbonneau, bar manager 

Where Sonsie

 

Ingredients:

2½ ounces Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka

¾ ounce hibiscus  syrup

½ ounce lemon juice

3 dashes Angostura bitters

ginger beer

 

Directions:

Combine vodka, hibiscus syrup, lemon juice, and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice, then shake. Add a splash of ginger beer. Strain into a martini glass.

 

 

 

 

 

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It used to take 27 hours to make a peep.  

In 1953, Bethlehem, Pennsyl-vania–based confectioner Just Born Inc. was planning to buy another candy maker, Rodda, which was famous for its jelly beans. On a factory tour, Just Born’s owners found out that Rodda also produced bird-shaped marshmallow treats called Peeps. “They looked at each other and said, ‘This is a gold mine,’” says Matt Pye, Just Born’s VP of Corporate Affairs. At the time, the chicks were hand-sqeezed through pastry tubes and needed hours to firm up. From mixing to final packaging, the whole operation took more than a day. But within a year of the acquisition, Just Born had automated the process,  paring it down to six minutes. The factory now produces 5 million chicks a day. It might be the only time it’s OK to count them before they hatch.


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Shakespeare invented more than 1,600 English words. 

Feeling at a loss for words? Then take a page out of the Bard’s book. “English simply couldn’t accommodate all of the things Shakespeare needed to say,” explains Felicia Londré, a theater professor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. “So he borrowed words, changed words, and gave new meaning to words,” in addition to conjuring up his own. While you have Will to thank for terms like bandit, laughable, and zany, not all of his contributions have survived. Among the many casualties: John-a-dreams (an idle muser) and disliken (to disguise). A lost lexical legacy? We’re speechless. 

 

 

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Hey Little Spender 

Father-daughter duo Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze share tips for raising money-wise kids.

 

Spirit: Why teach children money management? 

Dave: Parents should adopt the idea that teaching a kid about money is a life skill. We teach them to brush their teeth and drive a car, so we should teach them about personal finance. Your economic strata, the neighborhood you live in, and your race don’t enter into it; it’s something anyone can do. 

 

S: Where to start?

D: The first step is to get your own act together because your kids are observing you. It’s going to be very difficult to motivate them to do things you’re not willing or able to do yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, though. I don’t have to have gotten a 4.0 to require my children to study, but I do have to make the effort.

RACHEL: The idea is that more is caught than taught, and your kids are watching.

 

S: If parents shouldn’t try to turn a spender into a saver or vice versa, what should they do?

R: Since people are generally wired one way or the other, you’re trying to find a balance between the two. If you live your whole life as a saver, it’s going to be pretty boring, but if you’re a spender, you’ll have no money left. Your goal is to teach your kids to find the balance between enjoying money when they make it and being responsible and saving up for things like retirement.

 

S: What’s one tip parents can implement today?

R: We recommend using a commission system: kids work for their money, and then you divide it up into three envelopes: “give,” “save,” and “spend.” But don’t make the mistake of holding on to those earnings yourself—then you get 16-year-olds who don’t know how to write a check or swipe a debit card. And when they’re 18 and they go out into the world, they have no foundation for managing their own finances. I encourage parents to let kids experience money on their own—but with Mom and Dad’s guidance.   

 

Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze are the authors of Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.

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Golden Idea
Bitcoin’s getting a lot of buzz. But how does it really work?

By Jill Coody Smits

 

By now you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. But what is it: an innovative, universal form of money that will alter the way we live, or an unstable, unchecked hoax? How on Earth does it work, and why should you care? While not simple, the answers (at least to some of those questions) do exist.

In the simplest terms, Bitcoin is a global, Internet-based currency that is available to everyone. Bitcoin with a capital “B” refers to an overarching payment system, while bitcoin with a lowercase “b” refers to a monetary unit. It is the most prominent of many cryptocurrencies—digital systems of money that use encryption to secure transactions. It’s also important to note that Bitcoin is in its infancy, and while it may not be ready for prime time, many believe it will eventually change the way we all pay for goods and services.

 

The Virtual Buck Starts Here

In 2009, working under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a still-unknown person, or people, released a software system that allowed individuals to securely and directly pay one another with a digital currency. It’s worth reiterating the “securely and directly” part because in computer science, there had been a long-standing problem called “double spending” that made it impossible to know whether someone duplicated and double spent electronic cash unless a third party (e.g., a bank) verified it. 

Bitcoin solved that problem by using an “open source distributed system,” which means you can, in theory, recoup bitcoins loaned to a co-worker during lunch without waiting for the bank to confirm she’s good for it. That’s because the system simply won’t allow her to spend a bitcoin she doesn’t have. 

As bitcoins are spent, transac-tions are grouped into blocks and entered into a sort of giant, virtual bank ledger called the “blockchain.” Those blockchain transactions are verified by a huge network of people called “miners.” 

In order for a miner to verify a block of transactions, he or she must first gain access to it. Each block is locked behind an extremely complex password, and miners use high-powered computers to run the complex calculations that lead to correct passwords.

When a block is unlocked, a new bitcoin is released into circulation. So miners act as both bookkeepers and currency producers, and they’re compensated in bitcoins (about 25 for every block they unlock). 

There is a finite supply of bitcoins—21 million—and the complex passwords miners are required to break in order to hatch new ones are designed to be increasingly complicated. Nakamoto created it that way, so that the supply increases gradually. (Nakamoto also designed the system to produce a maximum of 25 bitcoins every 10 minutes, another control measure.)

 

Bitcoin and You

Now that you (kind of) understand the Bitcoin system, perhaps you want to use it. First, you have to buy bitcoins, much like you’d need to buy pesos if you went to Mexico. In this case, rather than hitting the airport exchange booth, you’ll need to purchase a bitcoin wallet—computer software that allows you to store, spend, and receive bitcoins on your mobile device or computer—from a site like Blockchain.info. Then you’ll need to fill it with bitcoins purchased from a site like Coinbase.com. Or, if you’re in Austin, Texas, where America’s first bitcoin ATM is located, you could exchange your cash for bitcoins much like you would withdraw funds with your debit card. 

However you acquire your bitcoins, once you’re flush, you may want to spend them. Via an encrypted code, you can transfer funds from your wallet to someone else’s. It’s akin to sending someone an email, only the message is in bitcoins. 

Keep in mind, though, that only a small number of merchants currently accept bitcoins. Even in Austin, if someone stocked their wallet at that ATM, they’d be hard-pressed to spend it locally. (They could, however, shop on Overstock.com, which began accepting bitcoins in January.)

 

A Bitcoiner’s Point of View

Paul Snow is president of the Austin-based Texas Bitcoin Association. In 2011, he impulsively bought some bitcoins for around 77 cents each and all but forgot about them until 2013, when he watched the price skyrocket from $34 to $1,200 over the course of the year. In November, the 54-year-old quit his job as a software developer to focus his attention on Bitcoin.

Snow says he was drawn to Bitcoin in part because “economically, we want a system that keeps score fairly, transparently, and in strict accordance with rules that are applied equally to all involved.”

While acknowledging some shortcomings, like an insufficient infrastructure, he expects that Bitcoin will have the corner on the virtual currency market—at least in the short term. “Bitcoin is going to be a hugely disruptive technology, and there are people who will make a phenomenal amount of money from being in on it early on.”

 

Security, Controversies, and Regulation, Oh My!

While there are plenty of winning Bitcoin stories like Snow’s, many experts believe it should be approached with caution. 

Mark Williams, a risk management expert and finance lecturer at Boston University, says questions about Bitcoin’s security, as well as its tarnished reputation, volatility, and troubled infrastructure, are all reasons to be skeptical of it. Pointing to the drawn-out collapse of Mt. Gox (in late February, the company, once the largest bitcoin exchange, shut down, resulting in the loss of a speculated $400 million worth of bitcoins), Williams says Bitcoin “rests on a false belief that self-regulation, untraceable currency, and transactions outside of well-tested and established banking channels can be done safely with little risk to customers.” 

Jerry Brito, a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, agrees that Bitcoin might be a risky investment, but says the high-profile incidents are simply growing pains of a young industry. “A lot of these first-generation companies started by hobbyists are failing and being replaced by very serious companies backed by prominent venture capitalists.”

Despite interest from investors, some experts view Bitcoin as a scam or pyramid scheme, in part because only a handful of people own half of all bitcoins in circulation. In response, Brito says, “Whatever you think of their motives, whether it was for profit or ideological, they solved the double spending problem. They deserve to profit, as they’ve accomplished a technological feat.”

Finally, there’s the fact that Bitcoin is a decentralized currency with no connection to a government. Williams has fundamental issues with this point, and in his testimony at the New York State Department of Financial Services’ hearings on the regulation of virtual currencies held in January, he emphasized how the dollar took centuries to earn respect and still relies on a sound central bank, regulation, and enforcement, while Bitcoin has none of that. “Economies are driven not by math models and equations, but by people,” he says. “Bitcoin still has a long way to go before it should be relied upon as a mainstream means of transaction or even for investment speculation.”

It does appear that regulation is inevitable, and there are moves to clarify how both state and federal rules apply to virtual currency. In that vein, Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, recently announced plans to “adopt enhanced consumer disclosure rules, capital requirements, and a framework for permissible investments with consumer money.”

 

Don’t Blink

As Williams says, “In Bitcoin world, a week is equivalent to a decade in real life.” To illustrate that point, consider what occurred over several weeks in early 2014. There was the perplexing disappearance of Mt. Gox; Charlie Shrem, founder and CEO of early Bitcoin player BitInstant, was arrested for laundering money for users of an Internet black market called Silk Road; Russia followed in China’s footsteps by declaring Bitcoin illegal; and the price of 1 bitcoin dropped from around $1,000 to about $550. 

The instability, coupled with its unheard-of price spike (the price of 1 bitcoin this time last year was roughly $34), has convinced Williams that Bitcoin is in a soon-to-burst bubble. 

But Brito says the volatility will subside as more people engage with it. “It’s volatile because it’s a small economy; one trade or a news story can send the market moving.” He says it’s important to remember that Bitcoin is a platform, and soon “someone will build a killer application” for it and the technology “will be wide-spread,” in part because it’s cheaper and faster than debit and credit cards.

Imagine the money to be saved if merchants didn’t have to pay transaction fees, for example, or if you could circumvent a bank when sending money to your Dutch uncle. As for other potential uses, some believe there are many, though it’s too soon to know exactly what will pan out.

Maybe Ben Bernanke sums it up best. In a November letter to Congress, he wrote, “while these types of innovations may pose risks related to law enforcement and supervisory matters, there are also areas in which they may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.” That we can buy into.

 

Jill Coody Smits is an Austin, Texas–based journalist. Find her online at blueseedcommunications.com.

 

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Tracy Morgan, if you were an animal, what would you be?

A lion. He’s the king of the jungle, man. 

In Rio 2, your character’s motto is “Drool is cool.” If you had a personal motto, what would it be? Cool is cool. 

If you had a time machine, where would you go and why? I’d go all the way back to the beginning of time just to see how it all went down. 

If you could give your 10-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Keep doing what you’re doing. 

If you could have created any work of art by another artist, what would it be? Everything Michael Jackson ever did. He was just awesome.  

If you ruled the world, what’s the first thing you would change? I would get rid of hate. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be? I’d be invisible so I wouldn’t have to explain anything to anybody. 

If this were the last day of your life, what would you be doing? Chilling with my kids, surrounded by love. 

If we take our kids to see Rio 2, what can we expect? A lot of love. A lot of laughs. It’s a great movie, and I thank God that I’m a part of it. 

 

 

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Salt and Pepper Ribs

“I grew up in Memphis, and we cooked a lot on wood. I like to incorporate my history into the restaurant—we’ve got a wood-burning grill where we burn whatever local wood we can get at the time. These ribs have a light, smoky flavor, and the basic salt-and-pepper blend gives them a little kick—but nothing too spicy. Saba is made from a wine byproduct and adds a hint of earthiness. It’s the only crazy ingredient in this recipe; most everything else you’re already going to have lying around the house. I made this for a 60-person cocktail dinner, and doing all of the ribs was a cinch.”

Who Cullen Campbell, chef/owner 

Where Crudo

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 three-pound pork rib racks

2 ounces each parsley, rosemary, and basil

6 ounces saba

 

Directions:

1. Mix dry ingredients together, and coat rib racks. Place in a baking pan, cover with foil, and cook in a 250-degree oven for 2 hours. Remove, then grill over low to medium heat for 1 hour. 

2. Roughly chop herbs, mix together, and set aside.

3. Place ribs on a serving platter. Brush with saba, then garnish with chopped herbs.

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42% of husbands have lied to their wives about dinging the car. 

Not only have they concealed the minor mishaps—they’ve pinned the blame elsewhere. Wives aren’t angels in the driver’s seat, either: In a survey by Insure.com, 27 percent said they’d fabricated the same falsehood. Moreover, 24 percent of folks are hiding accidents from their mates. But the truth can have a pesky way of surfacing. “Some people will find out that a spouse has done something wrong when they see their car insurance rates have gone up,” says Amy Danise, an Insure.com spokesperson. Other times, sidestepping consequences is a snap: “It’s really easy to blame someone else for a ding,” Danise acknowledges. Apparently honesty isn’t always seen as the best (insurance) policy.

 

 

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Ties That Bind Psychologist David DeSteno untangles matters of trust, from some common misconceptions to questionable cues

What are some of the myths surrounding trust?

Oftentimes, we assume someone is trustworthy or not based on his or her reputation. If that were such a great predictor then we wouldn’t be surprised so often. Science tells us that everyone has his price—whether he knows it or not. We each have two types of mechanisms: those that favor short-term gain and those that favor long-term gain. If you’re thinking short-term, you’ll take whatever you can get and run. However, long-term gain requires you to be more community-oriented to get what you want in the end. Whether you are trustworthy or not in any given moment is determined by which of these two urges is motivating you. 

What traits should you look for when determining if someone is trustworthy?

We tend to think about trust in terms of integrity, but there’s another component that’s equally as important: competence. When you’re deciding whom to trust in a certain situation, consider what might be required of that person. For example, I trust my best friend, but I wouldn’t want him operating on me because he’s not a surgeon. Ask yourself not only if the person is honest and fair, but also if he can competently do what you need him to do. My friend may have every intention to help me, but without the competence to do so, the end result will still be failure. 

Can I trust my boss?

People in positions of power—socioeconomically or otherwise—are more likely to be untrustworthy because they can be. Trust involves making yourself vulnerable to others. The more power you have, the less you rely on others and the less vulnerable you are.

Is it possible to base trust on body language?

Yes, it is possible, but in the past we’ve been looking for a single telltale marker, like shifty eyes or a fake smile, neither of which is telling on its own. Recent studies suggest that only when four particular cues are used in sequence do they predict when a person is going to be untrustworthy. Those are crossing one’s arms, leaning back (or orienting yourself away from someone), touching your face, and fidgeting with your hands. When used together, they say, “I’m probably going to cheat you.”

 

David DeSteno is the author of The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More

 

 

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You have 250 milliseconds to catch a fall. 

That’s the minimum time the brain needs to register that your body’s off-kilter and to do what it takes to avoid a tumble. “Anything less than 250 milliseconds—you’re probably not going to catch yourself,” says Daniel Ferris, a University of Michigan professor of kinesiology. In a recent study on balance, Ferris’ team homed in on the left sensorimotor cortex, an area of the brain thought to be responsible for coordinating motion. When you realize you’re falling, this region responds first, sending out the neural signals that set your body in motion to (ideally) restore stability—all within a quarter-second. Now that’s what we call quick thinking.

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35% of parents don’t understand what their adult child does for a living. 

Mom and Dad no doubt remember your childhood ambitions—but chances are they’re fuzzy on the details of your grown-up gig. A recent LinkedIn survey found that more than one-third of parents worldwide are in the dark about their kid’s daily responsibilities. (Americans are slightly ahead of the curve; only 29 percent find their child’s work mystifying.) Blame it on ambiguous job titles like UI designer, social media manager, and data scientist. “These jobs may not have existed when some of the parents were in the workforce,” says Catherine Fisher, director of corporate communications at LinkedIn. Still, 94 percent of folks are proud of their child’s professional accomplishments. Whatever they are.

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Togarashi Cheesecake

“I grew up in Brooklyn and we always went to Junior’s for cheesecake. It’s one of my favorite things to eat, but there’s a lot of mediocre cheesecake being served across the country. We wanted to come up with a version that was inventive and more elegant. At MilkWood, we’re always messing around with spice—I’m a chili-head, so the spicier the better. For this cheesecake, we used a Japanese chili spice blend called togarashi to offset the tartness of the goat cheese in the recipe. Togarashi is not melt-your-face-off spicy, but it’s just spicy enough to tickle the back of your throat. In Japanese food, it’s like adding salt and pepper.” 

Who Edward Lee, owner/chef

Where MilkWood

 

Ingredients:

14 ounces fresh goat cheese

6 ounces cream cheese

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon togarashi 

4 eggs

1 graham cracker crust

1 tablespoon sorghum syrup

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

2. Whisk together goat cheese, cream cheese, buttermilk, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon togarashi. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. 

3. Pour filling into graham cracker crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon togarashi. 

4. Bake in a warm water bath for 80 minutes. 

5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, drizzle each slice with sorghum syrup.

 

 

 

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Nizuc Resort and Spa

Located on the site of a former Mexican presidential retreat, the 29-acre luxury resort—which officially debuted in September 2013—nestles along a secluded stretch of coastline just 20 minutes south of Cancún. But why go into town? Nizuc’s six restaurants serve up an international sampler platter, from contemporary Mexican fare to Asian fusion, while the beachfront Bar A-Kan, one of three resort lounges, offers one of the region’s largest tequila and mezcal collections. Adventurous travelers will enjoy guided sunrise paddleboarding, snorkeling above the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, or kayaking through the mangroves that front part of the property, while kids can frolic on the private family beach or indulge their artistic sides with cooking classes and crafts. Just want to relax? With 274 suites spread through three separate residential areas, there’s space for everyone—plus an adults-only beach and a 30,000-square-foot spa.

AIRPORT Cancún International (CUN) RATE From $380 

 

While You’re There 

Dive in to explore the Cancún Underwater Museum, featuring artist Jason deCaires Taylor’s 400-plus coral-encrusted statues. You can snorkel, but you’ll get more up close and personal with a scuba tank. 

Explore the Yucatán Peninsula’s history on a day tour to Chichén Itzá or Tulum, the sites of Mexico’s most famous—and, arguably, most spectacular—Mayan ruins. 

Shoot for par at the Jack Nicklaus–designed Riviera Cancun Golf Club. Opened in 2008, the 18-hole course is the area’s newest spot of greens. 


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Growing a culture of generosity can pay dividends down the line.

By Jill Coody Smits

 

In business, the long view—the one where you keep your eyes on the future and on the world beyond your office door—isn’t always an easy gaze to hold. What with profits to make and salaries to pay, keeping your eyes anywhere but on your wallet and the challenge at hand can feel impossibly idealistic.

But there’s a growing business case to be made for the long view, whether you’re opening a new store, writing a strategic plan, or networking at happy hour. It requires that you renounce short-term thinking, fly your generosity flag, and eschew the “whatever it takes” mentality found in boardrooms big and small. It’s a kinder, gentler way of doing business, and it may be the surest route to the top.

 

The Tao of Burger Joints

For years, Patrick Terry daydreamed about opening a burger stand, a vision that is still laced with idealism. He says, “I like the idea of a burger, fries, and a milkshake; I like the exchange of that, and think it’s really pleasant.” 

After reading the decidedly unpleasant book Fast Food Nation, Terry and his wife, Kathy, decided to make his dream a reality, but to do it atypically. In 2005, the first P. Terry’s Burger Stand opened on a busy corner in Austin, Texas, with a mission to reinvent the fast-food industry depicted in Eric Schlosser’s 2001 best seller. 

From quality ingredients and fair wages to good customer service and earth-friendly practices, Terry says, “The mantra has always been ‘do the right thing.’ We mumble that to ourselves when making decisions.” Moreover, Terry says his strategy from the outset was “to build something of substance, something that would be around for a long time.”

Nine years later, P. Terry’s is working on its ninth stand. They pay their 300-plus employees well above minimum wage, offer Spanish-speaking employees English lessons, give interest-free emergency loans to help people get into an apartment or a car, and always promote from within. Employee bonuses totaled up to more than $65,000 in December 2013.

In addition to taking good care of employees, P. Terry’s uses all-natural beef and healthy ingredients, recycles all paper and cardboard from the back of the house, and has donated more than $332,000 to local causes. Terry says the stands themselves are designed to be places that make the street nicer for years to come.

All of that investment—in structures, healthy products, employees, and sustainability—is costly. Especially when you consider that their burger goes for $2. Still, Terry says the effort is both essential and worthwhile. There’s gravy, too, in the form of happy customers. 

 

Make Way for the Commons

As Terry suggests, success doesn’t have to come at the expense of the greater good. In fact, it’s a karmic philosophy that’s seeping into the psyche of future leaders via a surprising source—business school. 

Leo Burke, director of the Global Commons Initiative at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, says all businesspeople should be mindful of the outside world, because “business exists for the good of society, not the other way around.” (Take THAT, Wolf of Wall Street.)

A former Motorola executive, Burke launched the GCI in 2012 with the goal of educating students about the commons “so that they can make better business decisions that contribute to the greater good.” The “commons” in Burke’s initiative are an ancient concept he explains as the “tangible and intangible resources that sustain and enhance life that must be collectively governed by users for the good of current beneficiaries and future generations.”

It sounds like heady stuff, but the commons are just the shared things that make life good for all of us and should be there for us way down the road. There are natural-resource commons like mountains, cultural commons like customs, and even digital commons like the Internet. No one owns them, but we all use and benefit from them, and we are all responsible for them. 

It’s a compelling idea, but why should the commons be integrated into a business school curriculum? Burke makes it sound like a no-brainer. “It’s critical for future leaders to understand that, in addition to the private sector and public sector, there are resources we hold in common, and they need to be protected.”

According to Burke, the market is not yet beginning to demand that perspective, at least not in a mainstream way. However, “people are beginning to understand that if we don’t protect the common good, there won’t be healthy markets.” 

So, what is a well-intentioned company to do? “A very narrowly defined view of business is you grab the input resources at their cheapest and maximize profits by unloading at any cost,” says Burke. A better way, he insists, is to take a hard look at your business and ask whether anyone or anything is being exploited along the way. Do you ship using eco-friendly materials? Are you paying a fair wage? Do you give back to your community in some meaningful way?

Of course, it’s not always simple to factor in the greater good, particularly after a troubling quarterly meeting. But, Burke says even small positive steps are valuable.

 

Good Guys (and Gals) Finish First

Terry understands the complex decision-making that often goes into doing the right thing. He says there are times when monthly budgets and good intentions collide, “then you step back and tell yourself that you do this 12 months a year, so don’t put this one under the microscope and reevaluate what you think is right.” 

Recycling at P. Terry’s is one example of a complicated and evolving solution. The stores started with recyclable food packaging, then added a dumpster to each location so all materials from the back of the house get recycled. While trash from the front of the house represents a small percentage of the store’s waste, space and logistics issues make recycling it an unresolved but nagging concern. Terry says, “We have an ongoing conversation with ourselves on how to improve, and I’m confident there’ll be a time when we will recycle more.”

These efforts matter, Burke says, and from bond ratings that factor in sustainability practices to customers with high expectations, they will likely have more and more impact on success. It’s a natural progression. Many companies, like Patagonia, are already holding themselves to a higher standard, and they make a profit. Terry says the connection between the “do good” mantra and the success of their burger stands is undeniable. “I get too many customer comments to think otherwise.”

 

Give a Little, Gain a Lot

Even on an individual scale, there is evidence that generous people are more successful than selfish ones. 

In his book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Wharton professor Adam Grant contends that most people fall into one of three categories: givers, takers, or matchers. Givers give with no expectation of return, takers are only in it for themselves, and matchers give based on an assumption of reciprocity. 

Motivation, skills, and opportunity being equal, guess who tends to be the most successful? 

While all types can and do succeed, Grant found that givers tend to be especially successful more often, in part because they create a large network of people who happily reciprocate their “no strings attached” generosity. In addition, once you’re known as the helpful guy, people begin “rooting rather than gunning for you,” and new doors begin to open. 

There’s a fine line between “supreme giver” and “doormat,” however, and a pile of givers can be found at the bottom of the ladder. Grant says the key to supremacy is giving in a way that doesn’t compromise your goals and success.

Successful givers tend to be generous with givers and matchers, but cautious of takers. Failed givers respond to everyone, which can result in a “jack of all trades, master of none” problem. A more effective way, Grant says, is to focus giving in a few areas you enjoy and are uniquely qualified for, which makes the giving feel “energizing and efficient rather than distracting and exhausting.”

Do so and—voilà. You’ve just carved out your niche, which means folks won’t come knocking every time they need a random favor. 

Most of us are matchers, however, and Grant says we tit-for-tat masses make a few mistakes. The first is giving off a transactional vibe. (Conversely, givers make favors “feel like an investment in a meaningful relationship.”) The second is that matchers only help people who can pay it back—a shortsighted view of networking.

As for takers, well, they win some and lose some, but they’re bad for business. “When you get groups of employees willing to give, you have more innovation from shared knowledge,” Grant says. 

Leaders can encourage a giving culture by engaging in giving behaviors themselves. Things like putting organizational interests first (i.e., the corporate jet is not a personal chauffeur), sharing knowledge, and providing feedback have a way of trickling down. 

Operating with the greater good in mind may not always be easy, but research suggests it can be a winning business strategy. So do successful business owners. “Once the philosophy gets implemented, it takes on a life of its own,” Terry says. “You connect with a high caliber of people, and it’s all just working in tandem.”

Who knows, if you do it right, you may just give your way into giving a Giving Pledge. 

 

Jill Coody Smits is an Austin, Texas–based journalist. Find her online at blueseedcommunications.com.

 

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Puncher’s Chance

“A lot of my inspiration for cocktails comes from food. I had a dish some months back at a Burmese restaurant that used coconut and black sesame seeds, and I knew I had to make a cocktail geared toward that combination. So when we held an event this past October called the Mission Margarita Brawl, where 10 bars in the neighborhood had to make their take on a margarita, I thought to myself, What if I got black sesame seeds, ground them up, and added some salt to make the salt rim? This punch-style cocktail works well because, on the front, you’ve got the smokiness from the mezcal, and on the finish, the driving acidity with the coconut. We won the brawl.”

Who Dominic Alling, bar director
Where Beretta
 

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 ounces loose black tea

3 vanilla pods

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

black sesame salt

2 ounces mezcal

¾ ounce lime juice

 

Directions:

1. Make puncher’s mix: Combine sugar with 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Add loose tea and vanilla pods, and let steep for 7 minutes. Strain. Add coconut flakes, then let sit for 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Strain and cool.

2. Rim a Nick & Nora glass with black sesame salt, and fill with ice. Combine mezcal, lime juice, and 1/2 ounce puncher’s mix in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake, then strain into glass.

 

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Cesar Millan, celebrity dog behaviorist and best-selling author 

What is the key to a functional workplace? “This is one particular area where we can learn a lot from animals. In a pack of dogs, there are essentially three groups: those in the front, those in the middle, and those in the back. While each plays a significant role, no group is superior. The dogs in the front, typically referred to as alphas, give direction and offer protection; these are your leaders. The dogs in the middle of the pack keep order and ensure that things run smoothly. Those in the back are the cautious ones, responsible for alerting the others to potential threats. When building a team, adopt a pack mentality. Recognize that it’s just as important
to find people who are happy being in the back as it is to identify strong leaders. And maintain a balance of these respective personalities to promote cohesion.”

Cesar Millan’s new series, Cesar 911, premieres on Nat Geo Wild on March 7.

 

 

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Tony Goldwyn, if you were involved in a scandal, what would it be? Hmm. An affair with the First Lady? 

If you were actually the POTUS, what’s the first thing you would do? Go sit quietly alone in the Oval Office. It would be my last quiet moment for the next four years!

If you could give your 10-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Listen to your gut. Don’t look to others for your identity.

If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be? The Complete Works of Shakespeare

If you could rid yourself of one deeply personal fear, what would it be? None. It’s through facing our fears that we grow and thrive. 

If you could have created any one work of great art—a song, a painting, a movie, etc.—by another artist, what would it be? The Graduate. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be? Flight. 

If this were the last day of your life, what would you be doing? Holding my wife and two daughters. 

If you had coined a single phrase of wisdom, what would it be? “Do.” 

 

 

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Meyer Lemon Jam

Last summer we got in a bunch of Meyer lemons for a private event. When the party was canceled, we ended up with about 50 pounds of lemons. So we said, ‘Let’s jam them!’ And we’re happy we did. Now that it’s winter and it’s really cold outside, we’ve got plenty of fresh jam, which makes us think of sunshine. Meyer lemon jam is close in flavor to an orange marmalade—you get that same bitterness and sweetness, but with a bright lemon accent. It goes really well with cheeses, especially soft and blue cheeses. I eat cheese, jam, and bread any time of day, all year long.”

Who Cassy Vires, executive chef and owner
Where Table

 

Ingredients:

2½ pounds Meyer lemons

6 cups water

6 cups sugar 

 

Directions:

1. Chop lemons, removing and reserving seeds and pith. 

2. Tie seeds and pith in cheesecloth, and place in a large pot along with chopped lemons. Add water, and boil for 20 minutes. 

3. Remove cheesecloth bag. Add sugar, and bring to a boil for 20 more minutes, or until set.  

4. Remove from stove, then can or refrigerate in glass jars.

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Hans Woolley, President of Evite

How do you keep your company relevant in a rapidly evolving digital world? “One way to stay current is by partnering with folks who are current, which, for us, means they have a prominent voice in the blogosphere or the Internet ecosystem at large. A big part of what Evite does is offer great design, and we’re always looking for people who can help us do that even better. Because of the Internet, there’s no longer a monolithic model for getting information. Instead, you find the people and brands that stand for something you believe in and go directly to that source. As a brand, we do the same thing: find a voice we think will resonate with our audience and go directly to them. In doing so, we’re staying true to our brand promise of bringing people together, yet finding new and better ways to deliver on that promise.”

Hans Woolley recently oversaw the launch of Evite Ink, a service for e-cards and custom printable invitations, and Evite Gatherings, a resource for party planning, recipes, DIY projects, décor tips, and more.

 

 

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The first television ad cost $9.

The 10-second spot was nothing like its flashy modern-day descendants. Sponsored by watch and clock company Bulova, the promo, which kicked off a baseball game broadcast on July 1, 1941, only featured a simple voice-over and still image—but you can’t say it wasn’t a bargain. The sum Bulova forked over—$143 in 2013 dollars—was small change compared to the reported $4 million–per-half-minute rate that sponsors will pay for airtime during this month’s Super Bowl. (Not to mention the average $350,000-plus it costs to produce a spot.) The Biow Company ad agency billed Bulova just $5 for airtime and $4 in supplemental charges for the groundbreaking spot. It was a small price to pay for immortality.

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Michelle Dockery, if you ruled the world, what’s the first thing you would change? I would put someone else in charge.

 

If you had to choose any actor, living or dead, to play you in a film, who would it be? Katharine Hepburn. 

If you could go back in time and star in any movie ever made, which film would it be? Brief Encounter. 

If you could have created any one work of great art—a song, a painting, a movie, etc.—by another artist, what would it be? “A Case of You,” by Joni Mitchell.

If you had a time machine, where would you go and why? 1960s New York, because I am reading Just Kids by Patti Smith.

If you could take back one sentence you’ve spoken, what would it be? “I can’t do it!”

If you were born 100 years ago, what would you be doing? I would probably be a lady’s maid. 

If your life were a novel, how would it end? Exit stage left, pursued by a bear.

If we were to see your new film Non-Stop, what could we expect? A little turbulence, to say the least!

 

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Coraje

“We have around 3,000 different spirits at Canon. No base spirit is overlooked, although we do tend to focus on the brown ones. The Coraje is a dark drink, with the rum being lengthened by the aperitif and accented with coffee notes. It was inspired by a traditional rum-and-coffee drink from Spain called the Carajillo. Bonal works exactly as sweet vermouth does in a cocktail. In fact, if you don’t have any, you can sub in sweet vermouth if you dial back slightly on the coffee liqueur. Bitters make a drink more interesting. Technically, you can’t make a cocktail—as defined by the inclusion of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters—without them.”

Who Jamie Boudreau, proprietor 

Where Canon

 

Ingredients:

1½ ounces Appleton Estate V/X rum

¾ ounce Bonal

½ ounce Kahlúa Midnight

2 dashes orange bitters

2 dashes Angostura bitters

 

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, then stir. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

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10% of women want to be proposed to with a serenade.

Nowadays, a perfect proposal requires a bit more drama than your classic candlelit dinner. According to a recent survey by U.K.-based Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, one in 10 women would swoon if her beau broke into song to ask for her hand. Can’t carry a tune? Seven percent of the ladies polled said they’d like the question to be popped in poetry. “Intimate” isn’t necessarily equivalent to “special” when it comes to getting engaged, though; one in 20 women wants a flash-mob proposal. No matter how you ask, the best way to get a yes! is clear: “Make your proposal a reflection of your unique love story,” says Sarah Pease, owner of New York City–based Brilliant Event Planning. Who could say no to that?

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Speed Trap Psychologist Stephanie Brown talks life in the fast lane, the havoc it wreaks, and how to fight back. 

 

Why do you say that many of us are addicted to fast-paced living?

These days we are all tethered to our phones, our tablets, and our computers. Thanks to these devices, we have more information at our fingertips, and we have it faster than ever before. The constant notifications and incessant pinging conditions us to look forward to the next email, the next text, fueling an agitated inner state. Physiologically, it’s very similar to an alcoholic looking for the next drink or a drug addict seeking the next fix. But technology isn’t the only contributor; the link between speed and success is continually reinforced by American culture. 

How can you tell if you’re addicted?

You add activities without taking any away. You work longer hours but don’t finish tasks. You act first and think later. The first and last thing you do every day is reach for your phone. Most people will laugh when they read this and say, Doesn’t everyone? For many of us the answer is yes. 

What do we sacrifice when we prioritize constant connection?

Our relationships suffer the most. Fast-paced living gives us the illusion of connection, but it’s all button-pushing. A relationship is not information input; it takes time, attention, and reciprocal interaction.

What are some strategies for slowing down?

Start small. Refrain from looking at your phone on your commute to and from work. Declare a block of time every day technology-free. If you can implement these simple changes on a consistent basis and surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable, you’ll eventually learn to pause and reflect naturally, thus regaining control over your life. 

 

Stephanie Brown is the author of Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster—and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down

 

 

 

 

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The Langham

Just five months old, this urban retreat overlooking the Chicago River is a veritable playground for adults. The latest from the Hong Kong–based hotel family of the same name, The Langham occupies
12 floors of the iconic former IBM Building. Each of its 316 rooms is outfitted with midcentury-modern furnishings and fine art from the likes of celebrated painter Donald Sultan. With top-notch entertainment options and 24-hour dining, there’s no need to leave your room. But if you do, head to the second floor and pull up a seat at Travelle for mouthwatering Mediterranean-inspired eats. Those who book a Langham Club–level room gain access to an exclusive
lounge featuring light bites, business facilities, and unbeatable skyline views. And while you’re getting the star treatment, do yourself a favor and visit the dreamy Chuan Spa, a Langham signature.

Airport Chicago Midway International (MDW) 

Rate From $395 

 

While You’re There 

Tuck into a hearty 
deep-dish pizza, one of Chicago’s beloved culinary delights, at Lou Malnati’s River North location, just a 10-minute stroll from the hotel. 

Tap your feet to the smooth sounds at Andy’s Jazz Club, where the music starts at 5 p.m. every night of the week. 

Make the rounds but don’t fall down at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. It stays open through March 9.  

 

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The shortest Academy Awards ceremony took about 15 minutes.

That speedy awards presentation, held in 1929, was also the first. Why so swift? “It was very much an experiment,” says Tariq Khan, FoxNews.com’s Oscar expert. The winners had been announced three months earlier, “so it was a chance to just gather and see friends and colleagues and celebrate [their] work.” The fancy festivities included entertainment and a banquet, but when it was time for the honors, names were read with little fanfare and sans skits. Since coming to TV in 1953, the Oscars have gotten longer—last year’s ran 3.5 hours—but at least they’ve increased in entertainment value (Ellen DeGeneres hosts on March 2). We’d like to thank the Academy for that.

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Follow Your Fun Looking for the next big business idea? Look no further than your own amusement.

By Adam Hunter

 

They work in a fantasyland. An endless carnival, with popcorn lunches and slushies for dessert. They spend hours playing make-believe in cardboard boxes and gather their friends for games all day and night. They are the fun followers, the kids of Neverland, where trivial pursuits and childhood treats never get old—and they happen to be making some grown-up money.

If you’re struggling to figure out the next killer app or world-changing invention, maybe it’s because you’re thinking like an adult. Learn from these four young entrepreneurs, and you may find inspiration from a far less complicated time: your youth.

 

Kernel of an Idea 

Darien, Connecticut, circa 1988. Two 7-year-old girls in pajamas and pigtails push a chair against the kitchen counter, climb up, and swing open the cabinets until they find the treat they’ve been seeking—a microwavable bag of butter-flavored Jiffy Pop.

“My friend used to even lick the dud kernels at the bottom of the bowl,” Kristy Lewis, now 33, says.

In college, however, Lewis realized that her favorite snack hadn’t changed since she was a kid, even though attitudes about food had. Why didn’t anyone make organic microwave popcorn, in say, a compostable bag, free of potentially harmful chemicals? In the fall of 2010, three months of maternity leave from her job as an executive assistant gave Lewis the time to test out her idea. 

Her son Quinn was born—and soon Quinn Popcorn was, too.

Between feedings and diaper changes, Lewis experimented in her kitchen with different flavorings, like sage, rosemary, and maple syrup; researched suppliers; and contacted manufacturers to commission a bag made from chemical-free paper. Her husband, Coulter, an engineer, came up with the idea of placing the flavorings and oil in separate packets, in part to prevent them from seeping through the bag. The couple posted their product on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $10,000. They raised $3,000 overnight. Eventually, 755 backers pledged nearly $30,000. 

The month after returning to work, Lewis gave notice.

It was time to get her business baby on its feet, so she badgered the Whole Foods near her home in Arlington, Massachusetts, until they agreed to stock the product. “They ordered $30,000 worth in our second month, and we had to turn it down because we didn’t have enough inventory,” she says. Today, Quinn Popcorn is available in hundreds of stores nationwide and online through Amazon and Abe’s Market.

“Childhood is such a really fun time—at least mine was,” Lewis says. “I drew on those childhood sleepovers for inspiration.” She even made a butter and sea salt flavor at her pajama party friend’s request. “She’s obsessed with it.”

Lewis’ advice for following your fun? Talk to people in the industry. She and her husband reached out to Justin’s Nut Butter, Taza Chocolate, and Bear Naked, all organic food companies that had success selling to Whole Foods. “Now we get emails all the time from people asking how to pursue their ideas,” she says.

 

The Slushie Kings

Vancouver, British Columbia, circa 1993. Richmond High School quarterback Zack Silverman, parched from a long afternoon of football practice, has a craving that only a product from the local 7-Eleven can satisfy: a Slurpee.

“There was nothing more refreshing,” Silverman, now 35, recalls. “It was kind of like a tradition for me and my football buddies. I must have had thousands of slushies in my life.”

Years later, while billing long hours for a large corporate law firm in New York City, Silverman quickly bonded with fellow first-year attorney Alex Rein. Chained to their desks, the two began dreaming up business ideas to help them escape. Inspiration struck when Silverman mentioned his post-practice ritual. “You don’t see many lawyers bring a neon cup with a purple straw into the office,” Silverman says. “But people drink other frozen drinks. It seemed obvious: There should be a better, healthier slushie. No one else agreed with us. My wife certainly didn’t.”

In 2008, Rein was laid off from the firm, and he dedicated himself to building a slushie truck business. He and Silverman tried various recipes until they got the flavors and consistency just right.

Kelvin Natural Slush Co. officially launched in 2010, with Rein running the day-to-day operations. By the time Silverman quit the law firm two years later, the truck had won the 2010 New York’s Vendy Awards for Best Dessert, and long lines swamped their stall in Brooklyn. Now, Kelvin Slush machines can be found in 23 Whole Foods stores around the country, and the company supplies all of the frozen drinks at Madison Square Garden. His wife no longer thinks he’s so crazy.

Silverman’s advice to fellow fun followers? Go slow. “We started with a food truck before we invested tons of money. We could have tested it even cheaper,” he says. “Go someplace like your local flea market, and try to sell your product. If people don’t buy it, all you lost was a couple of weekends and the money you invested in your trial. Start small, and reevaluate until you find the right formula.”

 

Inside the Box

Stockholm, Sweden, the late ’70s. Little Måns Swanberg is mesmerized by the happy, colorful illustrations of his favorite books, Claymation cartoons, and his favorite toy, Lego blocks. But it’s a simple cardboard box that allows his imagination to run wild. Is it a rocket ship? A race car? He sits inside and wonders.

Swanberg, now a creative director in New York City, had a conversation two years ago that brought those fond memories rushing back. His friend suggested using cardboard to make a children’s toy. “I just thought it was a fantastic idea; cardboard is such an abundant material,” he says. The food trucks near his Brooklyn home  gave the idea a shape. “It’s a shop and a car, so two toys in one,” he says. “There are so many inspiring food trucks on the streets, with fantastic artwork. There’s just loads of headroom to play around with color and typography.”

Swanberg spent 18 months developing his “Famous OTO,” a food truck playset for kids. “Normally I just draw pictures, so I had to learn about engineering, manufacturing, distribution, corporate regulations, toy-safety regulations, and so on, all in a foreign language,” he says. After hearing the founder of Indiegogo speak at a conference, he put his project on that crowdfunding site and raised $15,000 in seed money. Swanberg’s creation quickly drew favorable press, and his first print run, an uncannily real-looking ice cream truck, sold out this past Christmas through his website, oto-toy.com. He has more trucks planned for 2014.

Swanberg’s wisdom for aspiring funtrepreneurs? Study your audience. “I don’t have kids yet, but I have nieces and lots of friends with kids. There were exhaustive test runs. I was impressed—these things really take a beating. We revised the construction, simplifying mostly, and worked out how to best make it come together and disassemble easily, many times over.”

 

Trivia Man

Westchester, New York, circa 1999. On TV, Alex Trebek reads the $500 Jeopardy answer aloud. “One of two DiMaggio brothers to play baseball at the same time as Joe.” From his living room couch, Ryan West shouts a correct response: “Who is Dom?!”

That useless knowledge came in handy a half dozen years later when the bar that West worked at while attending university needed a host for its Tuesday trivia night. Soon he was hosting trivia at four bars in the area.

After moving to New York City in 2008, West, now 29, got a call from a bar manager who’d attended one of those trivia nights. He wanted West to host a similar geekfest at his watering hole. There, West met Cullen Shaw, organizer of a citywide sports league. “We saw that every week there were regulars coming, and some grew rivalries, to the point where people made T-shirts with their team names,” West says. “We were like, ‘This is like a sports league.’ Why not create that sort of dynamic?”

The business model for their NYC Trivia League was simple: bars looking to goose sales on slow nights pay West and Shaw’s company to host the trivia matchups. But the partners aren’t looking to just pack out a bar for a single night. “We give people a reason to come back,” West says.

From that first bar, the NYC Trivia League has grown to fill 13 city bars with 45 registered teams. The league turned a profit quickly and West and Shaw plan to double their bar clients by the end of 2014.

West’s best advice for fun creators? Don’t worry about taking the direct route. “I was a business major my freshman year, but I didn’t enjoy the classes,” he says. So he switched to a double major in communications and classical theology. “My parents asked, ‘Well, how is learning about Greek history going to get you anywhere in life?’”

Note to would-be trivia champs everwhere: Whenever Ryan West hosts, study up on Aristotle.

 

 

Adam Hunter is a New York-based editor and freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @adamhuntr.


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The new Spock in next month’s Star Trek on pals, Pittsburgh, and pointy ears

1) STEELY ROOTS: Pittsburgh, the city I grew up in, is an incredibly supportive community. It’s a surprisingly cultural town with a tight-knit collection of enormously talented theater artists. My experience as a young actor in Pittsburgh has a lot to do with starting me on the path that has led me to this point.

2) THE S WORD: “Surprise” is a word I try to live by. I invite it all the time into my experience, into the roles I play. I’m understanding more and more that every gift or opportunity emerges from a challenge or conflict. I wouldn’t have the things I have without those challenges, or if I did, they wouldn’t mean as much.

3) ENTOURAGE: My closest friends are many of my college classmates. We sustain each other through all the ups and downs. They didn’t really care when I was unemployed, and they don’t really care that today I have a job. It is important to be surrounded by those kinds of people: the ones who know the real self.

4) VULCAN SALUTE: I can’t say how amazing it was to have Leonard Nimoy be such an integral part of the process of making Star Trek. Getting to know him was one of the highlights of the experience—and considering him a friend is one of the great honors of my life.

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A rec room classic gets an injection of testosterone.

What do you get when you cross a foosball table with the bumper of a farm pickup? Answer: On the Edge Marketing’s Diamond Plate Foosball Table . Made of durable polycarbonate materials, the manly game looks tough enough to withstand years of beer-fueled abuse. The 55-by-30-by-34-inch table also comes with a built-in mp3 player dock, speakers, and amplifier—perfect for rocking out as you spin-kick the winning point down the playing field. Two chrome soccer balls; a chrome-plated ball return bin; and eight rows of stylish, black- and silver-colored figures ensure that no player will ever look like a girly man. $1,223

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February/Paperback
An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport

THE CONCEPT: ESPN commentator Kenny Mayne offers his somewhat random, frequently erratic, and highly entertaining take on the wide world of sports.

SCOUTING REPORT: Mayne covers an abundance of sports (bowling, horse racing), but leaves almost as many out (swimming, roller derby). He often goes on tangents about unrelated topics—like a discussion of Starbucks in an entry on hunting—as well as personal anecdotes, such as the epic summer from his youth when a neighborhood kid hit 843 wiffle ball home runs. His daughters’ illustrations make the book even more surreal, a welcome contrast to the often-overserious genre of sports books.
GET IT: Feb. 3

February/Hardcover
Galway Bay

in a nutshell: Author Mary Pat Kelly revisits the great immigration of Irish citizens to America during the mid-1800s by following a single fictional family. After surviving a potato famine in their native Ireland, Honora and Michael Kelly and their children join 2 million of their brethren in immigrating to America. But they soon discover that things are not much easier on this side of the pond. Follow the family as it gets swept into Chicago’s shift from frontier to “city of the century ” and then winds up in a bloody Civil War.

WRITING SAMPLE: “August now and no doubt remained. Blight had killed the entire potato crop of 1848. Fields, planted at such sacrifice, were black and blasted. For the third time in four years we’d lost our food.”
GET IT: Feb. 9

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Each NFL game gets 36 footballs.

So why do the pros require more pigskins per game than a high school gym? Most of the time, they’re just playing it safe. New balls get swapped into the game for a lot of reasons. Sometimes players keep them after a big play or flick them to a fan following a touchdown. A dozen balls appear only for kickoffs , punts, and field goal and extra-point attempts . Still other balls go to record-setters or wind up on charity auction blocks. And open-air stadiums—such as the one in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl XLIII this month—like to have a few spares, too, just in case the weather turns ugly .

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How a top young chef went from Subway to culinary star.

I think I always had the ingredients of a cook. I asked for an Easy-Bake Oven when I was 6, but I never had the patience for the light bulb to heat up, so I ate everything raw. You could say I was a demanding kid. At 29, I’m still demanding, and it’s paying off. I received the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award in 2008, and I competed in The Next Iron Chef . For a Minnesota kid who started at Subway , it feels wildly gratifying. But receiving an award is one thing. Living up to it is another.

I grew up on Rice Krispies bars and Cheetos . Those humble culinary beginnings come through in my cooking at Café Boulud in New York City, as does a newly discovered patience. These days, I’ll wait four weeks for a sausage to cure. What a change that is from my days with the Easy-Bake Oven.

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February/TV

Dollhouse
Your favorite restaurant. Your childhood house. Your middle name. Imagine if someone could erase these memories. That’s the situation Echo (Eliza Dushku ) finds herself in as a member of an underground agency hired by the wealthy and powerful for odd jobs. In the new show Dollhouse , creator Joss Whedon returns to the small screen with his first new series since the short-lived Firefly in 2002. Just try to remember the show premieres on Feb. 13.

February/Film

Fanboys
Most people in 1998 would have stood a better chance of escaping from the Death Star than scoring a sneak peek at a Star Wars sequel. But that doesn’t stop four fictional super-geeks from traveling cross-country in Fanboys to try a major heist: Stealing Episode I: The Phantom Menace from George Lucas’ headquarters to show their dying friend. On Feb. 6, Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) headlines an ensemble comedic cast. We like the lineup of nerd-friendly cameos, including William Shatner and Seth Rogen . What more could a fanboy want?

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Darius Karsas riffs on a sweet treat.

Our restaurant serves food that reminds people of their mom’s cooking. So when we had to come up with the bar menu, we turned to classic kid beverages—Kool-Aid , Sunny D —and created updated, playful versions. The Hooville takes on the creamy and chocolatey Yoo-hoo , but with added almond flavor, since what goes better with chocolate than almond? It’s a nutty, rich-tasting cocktail that makes a really good after-dinner drink. Darius Karsas is the bar manager at Ketchup in Los Angeles.

Hooville
1 3/4 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce amaretto
1 1/2 ounces Yoo-hoo
White chocolate shavings

Combine the vodka, amaretto, and Yoo-hoo in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with white chocolate shavings. Makes one Hooville.

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Travel back to a simpler time in northern Kentucky.

Want to get all shook up? It could happen in Pleasant Hill , home to the country’s largest restored Shaker village.

Located about 70 miles southeast of Louisville , Shaker missionaries from New York established the community in 1805.

Spread over nearly 3,000 acres of farmland in Harrodsburg , Shaker Village includes an 81-room inn , 40 miles of trails, a living history museum with 34 original and restored Shaker buildings, craft shops, and a furniture showroom.

Stroll through the clapboard 1820 Meeting House, where services were held. Enjoy a meal in the Trustees’ Office Dining Room, where you can dine by candlelight on sliced pork with apple cider sauce. Next, watch costumed interpreters demonstrate 19th-century woodworking techniques in the living history museum. Finally, end your stay with a trek along the hiking trails, a horseback ride, or even a canoe trip down the Kentucky River. Just don’t get too shook up in the boat.

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The actor/singer/comedian reflects on the stage, Sammy, and staying in the moment.

1) New Media: You always have to find new things to conquer. An improv comedy TV show? I found out I can do that. Broadway? A Vegas show? A CD of great music? I can do that too. I never stop reaching for greatness and challenging myself. You want to make sure everything you do is as interesting as the last thing you did.

2) Straight Talk: I’m a straightforward person, and that comes across, even in comedy. Sixty percent of connecting with audiences is natural. You’ve got to be an open person. And the other 40 percent is just being a good performer. People respond to a guy who looks them in the eye.

3) Sammy’s Lead: Las Vegas was Sammy Davis Jr. ’s world, and every time I step on stage at the Venetian , I feel like I’m stepping into a house he built for guys like me. There were times when a black performer couldn’t even come in the front door. Sammy showed that not only could you be an intelligent black performer, but you could have class and style too. Without him, there would be no me.

4) Book Smarts: My grandmother, who raised me, turned me onto books when I was a little kid. I got called “nerd” a lot, but I still read everything I can get my hands on. The Lord of the Rings completely freed my imagination, which is—in a lot of ways—what led me to improv. I started reading sci-fi and fantasy, which led to writing my own stories. Going to the stage was the next logical step.

5) The Here and Now: Staying in the moment is important. In improv, when your partner’s talking to you, you can’t be thinking, Oh, I’ve got such a great joke! You’ll tell that joke three minutes later and everyone’s moved on. Same goes in real life. If you’re not enjoying that moment, then you’ve already missed the moment.

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8,000,000,000 candy hearts will come out this year.

It all started in the 1800s with a hard candy called cockles . The shell-shaped treats were stuffed with small papers. Daniel Chase of the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) later invented a process that allowed him to print words directly onto candy. By the early 1900s, candy hearts evolved into their current form, with phrases like “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me.” About 20 years ago, NECCO began retiring worn-out sayings for new ones. This year, look for “Honey Bun,” “Spice It Up,” and “Recipe 4 Love” to come from your secret admirer.

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Because freeing your follicles can change your perspective.

By Steve Almond

DURING A DEBATE TOURNAMENT back in college, my partner and I decided to have a little fun. Rather than arguing on behalf of nuclear disarmament or public transportation, we proposed that all people on planet Earth should shave their heads at least once in their lives. We combed through the Old Testament and Greek mythology for supporting evidence. We invoked the holiness of Buddhist monks and the Egyptian priest class. We mocked our opponents for their “follicular snobbery.” We lost.

The judge said our arguments lacked gravity. Perhaps he was right. Or perhaps he was simply bitter over his own male-pattern baldness . In either case, the verdict had a strange effect: I began to take this conviction seriously.

In my own moony, collegiate manner, I believed head-shaving had been given a bad rap, linked to criminal behavior, conformity, and emasculation. To me, it represented a brave rejection of our culture’s hair-obsessed narcissism . Which is why, upon arriving at grad school a few years later, I walked into a barber supply shop and bought an electric clipper.

Back at my apartment, I stood in front of the mirror in my bathroom and plugged in the device. It buzzed and trembled in my hand. I took a deep breath and watched as tufts of hair drifted to the floor. Within a few minutes my head looked like a pale, stubbled fruit.

How did I feel? I felt incredible, even better than I’d ever imagined. I felt clean and sleek and somehow…simplified. I walked outside to my porch and the wind rushed across my bare scalp and the thousands of nerves gathered there sang out in glee.

Then my neighbor Holly appeared in the driveway. “Oh God,” she said. “What happened to you?”

“Nothing,” I insisted. “I did this myself! Just now. With a clipper.”

Holly cocked her head. “Seriously,” she whispered, “you can tell me.”

As it turned out, walking around with a shaved head kind of freaked people out. Michael Jordan could get away with it . But he was the world’s greatest basketball player. I was merely one of the world’s most obscure and annoying short story writers . And I admit that my lockless look was extreme. My nose, never a dainty arrangement, appeared swollen to three times its normal size. The various scars and deformities of my skull—relics of a childhood spent in combat with my brothers—were suddenly on display. I looked funny, but my appearance felt like a much more honest accounting of who I was.

I spent nearly a year living this way, quite happily. I might never have grown my hair out at all, were it not for the beautiful woman I met at the end of my first year. She was not interested in dating someone whose head—to quote her—looked “like a nicked-up bullet.” Ouch.

So the clippers went into storage and my hair reemerged, in various awkward configurations. But the itch to buzz never left and a few years later, during a particularly merciless Boston summer, I dug out the clippers. It was just as pleasurable the second time—and just as distressing to my friends.

I hope this explains my personal fondness for head shaving. But the question remains: Why would I advocate it for others? I’m going to offer six reasons, which I hope you will read before nudging the person in the seat next to you, pointing to this article, and murmuring, “This guy is out of his mind.”

OK, here we go.

1) It feels really good.
Have you ever had your scalp massaged ? Or even just had someone run his or her fingers through your hair? It’s just about the best feeling in the world (among the top three, anyway).

The reason it feels so good is because the scalp is exquisitely sensitive. It has the thickest skin of any part of the body, and therefore the highest density of nerve endings, especially around the follicles. This will become clear to you the moment you kiss your curls goodbye. Simply put: It’s impossible not to caress your scalp.

I even came to love the act of shaving my head. I’d let my hair grow out a centimeter or two, buzz it back down and, if I was feeling decadent, slather my head with shaving cream and work with a razor. The result was a head so smooth it felt almost rubbery. I would then immediately go swimming. The water felt divine, as if God were kissing me on the crown of the head.

2) It strips away your vanity.
To be clear: I have nothing against beautiful hair. My wife has beautiful hair. But it’s hard to dispute that our consumer culture has gone overboard in emphasizing the importance of beautiful hair. How else might we explain the proliferation of shampoos, conditioners, thickeners, and mousses that stare out from the supermarket shelves? Take a look at your own bathroom. I’d be willing to bet you have a dozen hair-care products.

This is to say nothing of the incessant emphasis on hair restoration for men. Larry David , the grumpy hero of HBO’s comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm , has a very funny riff on the discrimination suffered by bald men in this country. The joke works because it’s rooted in truth: From the Age of Samson to the Age of Fabio , a healthy, lustrous head of hair has always represented physical prowess and sexual power. This is part of what makes the sheering of one’s locks seem like such an extreme, transgressive act.

3) It can set you free.
With some caution, let us examine the case of Britney Spears. Back in February of 2007, pictures surfaced of the pop singer shaving her head . The reaction was one of horror. How could she do something so self-destructive?

But consider what has transpired in the months since. By all accounts, Ms. Spears has straightened out her personal life, gotten back in shape, and relaunched her career . Shaving her head may have been her way of flipping out the paparazzi, but it also trimmed the narcissistic excess from her life. Intentionally or not, it turns out to have been an act of spiritual liberation.

This was part of the reason why I loved the ritual of shaving my head. It felt like a purification rite. A number of professional athletes describe having the same feeling. They make it a point to shave their heads before big games. It’s not just a ploy to intimidate your opponent or to cut down wind resistance. It’s a way of eliminating distractions.

4) It’s eco friendly.
I’m not going to overstate the case here, but it just happens to be true that when you have a shaved head you use a lot less shampoo and hot water and towels.

5) It fosters greater empathy.
Remember that old American Indian expression about how you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you can know his heart? The same rule prevails when it comes to hair.

There are, of course, many reasons why people wind up with no hair on their heads. They go bald. They get sick. They make a religious or cultural decision. They join the military. Sometimes, tragically, the decision is imposed on them.

Whatever the cause, they wind up moving through the world in a state of greater vulnerability and humility. That was certainly how I felt. Heck, my own mother gasped and said that I looked “like a refugee” the first time (since birth, at least) she saw me sans hair.

But these reactions didn’t make me angry. On the contrary, being judged makes you less apt to judge others—and more apt to sympathize with them.

6) It’s only temporary.
For the past few years, I’ve been telling my wife that I want shave my head again. “Go right ahead,” she always says. “Then hand the clippers to me.” This is her attempt at a deterrent.

The flaw in her logic is obvious: Hair grows back. To those who see my proposal as a radical one, I offer this reminder: Head shaving is, at most, a temporary measure, no more radical than a bad dye job. If you find life with a shaved head to be embarrassing or difficult, you have only to survive a few months of wearing hats. That’s what makes hair so remarkable: the miracle of regeneration.

Oddly, this argument never holds much sway with my wife.

And honestly, I don’t expect you to run out and shave your head, simply because some guy in a magazine says it’s a profound experience. But on the off chance that you do, please know that I support your decision. Oh, and also: Please don’t tell your spouse it was my idea.

Steve Almond’s latest book is the essay collection Not That You Asked . He lives with a full head of hair in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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Dear Reader,

About half an hour ago, while surfing the Web, I came across some facts so alarming that I immediately took a nap.

According to Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School , adults as well as toddlers have a “biological readiness to fall asleep” in the middle of the afternoon. The only difference is, toddlers act on that readiness by taking a nap. Most adults don’t, except for those happy residents of what sleep researchers call “siesta cultures.”

During the mid-afternoon, while sensible toddlers and Latin countries catch a few winks, here’s what happens to the rest of us:

• Our moods tend to darken.
• Accidents increase.
• Daytime deaths from all causes spike—probably, researchers think, because of those accidents.
• Our body temperature drops slightly. (I have no idea what this has to do with naps, but sleep researchers like to mention it.)

Here’s the good news: Ten minutes to half an hour is all the nap you need. This holds especially true if you’re like most Americans, getting an average of one hour less sleep than you’re supposed to. That’s why I followed the example of power-nappers like Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein .

I heard someplace that many Japanese drink a cup of coffee before napping ; the caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, eliminating that groggy post-nap feeling. I had a Coke instead of coffee, and 20 minutes later had to go to the bathroom. The technique works, though. (Admittedly, this letter might put even caffeinated nappers to sleep.)

Before my prose inspires you to nap, read Daniel Radosh’s story on sleep technology . Meanwhile, a note to my co-workers: If you see me snoring on the floor of the conference room, please don’t wake me up. I’m napping for your own safety.

Jay Heinrichs
Editorial Director

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