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We're identical twins who interned at Microsoft and absolutely loved our experience. Here's what our internships were like.

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:42pm
Mark and Andrew Ansell in front of the compay sign.
  • Andrew and Mark Ansell are former Microsoft interns who also worked at Apple and Tesla.
  • They say Microsoft has one of the best work cultures and that they really enjoyed their time there.
  • This is their story, as told to reporter Jenna Gyimesi. 

The as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mark and Andrew Ansell, former Microsoft employees. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Mark was a product management intern for the Surface department in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Andrew was a product management intern on the Surface team in the summer of 2019.

For our internships, we worked in-person in Seattle, then both moved on to full-time roles as lead product managers at Microsoft. 

A Microsoft recruiter actually reached out to Mark on LinkedIn in 2018 and he applied online. One summer later, Andrew applied online too.

We already had a decent amount of experience before we interned at Microsoft: Mark had interned for companies like Apple, and Andrew with Apple and Tesla. We were able to get our first few internships with campus resources at UC Berkeley College of Engineering.

We learned that we should try to avoid three things at Microsoft while we were interns:

  1. Try not to get too caught up in the fun and forget to work.
  2. Don't take on extra assignments that you don't fully understand without asking for help.
  3. Don't put emojis in your email titles — Andrew did that once and someone told him to remove the fire emojis from his future email subjects. What Andrew thought was urgent wasn't close to pressing to anyone else.
We got a lot of free "swag" like this backpack.Let's start with the fun things 

Every year Microsoft has an intern day. One summer they brought Pitbull, and our next summer the performers were Sean Paul and Ella Mai. They keep the performers a secret beforehand so it's a complete surprise — all you know is that it is going to be good.

There's also tons of free food and swag on Intern Day. It's the best day of the internship by far.

You also get swag throughout your internship. By the end of our internships we got Surface Headphones, a Surface Laptop 3, and a Surface Book. We also got an Xbox, sweaters, backpacks, wireless charging pads, Microsoft reusable water bottles, jackets, and T-shirts and socks — SO many T-shirts and socks. Honestly, we got so much stuff we can't even remember it all. 

Mark also got to go to China for about 10 days during his first internship to see how Microsoft builds its products.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the events and fun things at Microsoft. But we were careful about not getting carried away and losing track of our projects. 

For our internships, we worked in-person in Seattle

We had about three intern events a week sprinkled across our calendars. Sometimes those events would be a speaker, sometimes it would be a tour of the prototyping lab — something along those lines. 

We were given a lot of independence to manage our own time

Our managers were there to guide us only on the very highest level. I think they purposefully give interns a lot of independence because full-time work at Microsoft requires the same sort of self-guidance.

We felt they were evaluating our abilities to manage our time throughout the internship.We didn't mind working on our own, but you had to be diligent about staying on track. 

The internships lasted for 12 weeks. We came in around 9 a.m. and left no later than 6 p.m. As interns, we weren't expected to work overtime or anything. 

For lunch most days, Mark set up networking lunches, hangouts with full-time employees or one on one's with his manager. Andrew didn't — he usually had free lunches and enjoyed the complimentary food. He probably got lunch with his manager the first day and that was it. 

You have to take initiative to invite people for lunchtime meetings if you want to have them, but you don't need to do that.

Interns work on one main project in addition to helping with whatever their team needs

In each of our Microsoft internships, there were two elements:

  • A main project that was to be completed by the end of the summer (and one that added value to the team)
  • A contribution to the day-to-day work the team was doing

We really liked that mix because it made us feel valuable and gave us ownership over a piece of work, but also made us feel integrated into the team.

You don't necessarily get to pick your special project, but we spoke with our manager to make sure it was something we were interested in. Mark was given two options: he could either work on the very beginning of a new product or on a product that was going to ship out in a few months. He chose to work on the one that was going to ship soon because he wanted to see it go out the door.

Team members will invite you to work on other projects you may be interested in, but you have to be careful. You don't want to take on other things at the expense of your project because Microsoft ultimately hired you to work on one specific thing. 

You get a manager, a mentor, and a buddy

A manager has multiple people reporting to them. They may oversee mechanical engineering PM's, electrical engineering PM's, and so on. Managers also have a higher level view of how you're doing and how you fit into the team's goals. Ultimately, your manager is the one who evaluates you and if you will convert to full-time employment. 

A mentor is someone that helps you with day-to-day things. For example, if you're stuck on a product, you can ask your mentor, but you wouldn't go to your manager for something like that. 

A buddy is someone who is traditionally younger than your manager and mentor. It's usually someone who already went through the internship program and converted to full-time. They talk to you about how your job is going and they can answer questions about how Microsoft works.

You're automatically matched up with these people, but it would have been nice to have another more informal mentor. We weren't sure who was evaluating us or who had input, so we would have felt more comfortable asking questions to a true mentor who didn't report back to anyone. We felt like anyone involved in your business unit or in your projects has a bit of a conflict of interest.

Andrew was actually able to meet a woman who had gone from intern to full-time project manager a few years ago. They met in the cafeteria getting lunch and she became his informal mentor. We would really recommend interns look for something like that. But in Andrew's case, it was just really lucky and accidental.

We noticed that high-performing interns weren't necessarily the ones with the best technical skills

You would think that Microsoft would value technical skills above all else, but over time we realized that teamworking skills were so much more important.

Being a successful intern was about way more than just getting your work done. We felt like Microsoft looked at how you interacted with your coworkers, how they felt working with you, and if you communicated well. There is so much collaboration that has to happen when you work at Microsoft that you really need to be a good listener. Those soft skills were so overrated. There were definitely interns who did not get return offers because they weren't friendly or were bad communicators.

We also advise any future interns to clearly understand your manager's expectations of you and ask them what success looks like on particular projects. Otherwise, you may be working on the wrong things. You don't want to accidentally go down the wrong path and deliver something the manager wasn't expecting. As we've said, Microsoft hired you to do a certain thing so make sure you understand your role on the team.

We asked a question on Intern Day.Our internships were definitely challenging, but the pressure wasn't overwhelming

It was honestly a lot of fun to help on the product development side of things. It was really easy to ask questions, and people were friendly. Even if someone is much higher than you, they're never going to reject you if you ask to do short one-on-one conversations.

We reached out to so many people that were way above our levels, and we heard that that's not the case at every tech company. 

There was some pressure and nervousness because working there was new to us, but the pressure we felt came from our personal expectations for ourselves rather than pressure from Microsoft. 

After our internships, we both received full-time return offers. We didn't hesitate to accept the offers because we really liked our experiences.

Microsoft truly has one of the best work cultures in our experience and we recommend the company to anyone.

Our overarching advice on how to be successful and get the most out of your internship is to show up on time and prepare for every meeting you have. Understand your project and expectations, and be the glue! Microsoft loves people who can bring a team together and raise the energy. Don't be afraid to be excited.

If you'd like to share your experience working at a tech company, email Jenna Gyimesi at

Read the original article on Business Insider

The IRS is planning to hire as many accountants and attorneys as it takes to crack down on rich people 'that are not paying the taxes they owe'

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:40pm
  • The IRS released its strategic plan for using Biden's $80 billion investment in the agency.
  • It plans to dedicate a chunk of spending to stricter enforcement for high earners.
  • It also included improved customer service and hiring more agents to help taxpayers.

The Internal Revenue Service's long-awaited plan to overhaul its operations is finally here.

On Thursday, the IRS released its Strategic Operating Plan for the next decade, which details how it will use Democrats' $80 billion investment in the agency from the Inflation Reduction Act. 

The plan outlines five core areas in which the IRS will dedicate the new funding, including improved customer service, digitizing the tax return process, and hiring a new workforce that is better equipped to handle taxpayers' needs. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that the plan "shows how the IRS will continue this transformation by providing world-class service, upgrading decades-old technology, and reducing the tax gap by ensuring high earners play by the same rules as working and middle-class families."

Her latter point on cracking down on high earners is key in the IRS' plan. According to the press release, audits of the wealthy and large corporations have "plummeted" over the past decade due to the agency's lack of resources, and tax evasion in the top 1% surged to $160 billion per year. 

"It takes up to 50 times longer for top talent to audit wealthy individuals and their related entities than to complete simple audits—up to 250 hours rather than five hours on average," the press release said. "Corporate audits similarly average hundreds of hours over two to four years. The IRS needs top talent to do this complex and time-consuming work."

That's why $41.7 billion of the $80 billion investment is dedicated to stricter enforcement actions for high earners and large corporations. Daniel Werfel, the IRS commissioner, wrote in a letter accompanying the plan that the agency will focus "enforcement resources on hiring the accountants, attorneys, and data scientists needed to pursue high-income and high-wealth individuals, complex partnerships, and large corporations that are not paying the taxes they owe."

According to the plan, households and businesses making under $400,000 will not see audit levels increase "relative to historic levels," but the IRS will improve its usage of data analytics and technology to identify individuals and businesses that are not complying with the tax code. 

Werfel noted that since 2010, the IRS workforce has shrunk 20% to about 80,000 employees, leaving it significantly understaffed as the US population grew. While the Treasury Department previously estimated that Biden's investment in the agency would grow the workforce to 87,000 employees, the plan does not provide a specific estimate.

Still, Republican lawmakers have blasted the investment, with some claiming that it would target small businesses. "When House Republicans earn the majority, we will STOP Biden's army of 87,000 IRS agents hired to audit hardworking American families and small businesses," GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik wrote on Twitter in November.

Werfel told reporters on Thursday that "people who get W-2s or Social Security payments or have a small business should not be worried about some new wave of IRS audits. We're taking that off the table."

Still, the IRS' plan is partly dependent on whether it continues to receive consistent funding from Congress, and it is asking for $14.1 billion in fiscal year 2024, a 15% increase from 2023. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The global economy will grow at the slowest pace in 3 decades as higher interest rates bite, IMF chief says

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:25pm
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
  • The global economy is looking at its slowest growth in three decades over the next 5 years, the IMF head said Thursday. 
  • Higher interest rates as central banks battle hot inflation are weighing on demand in advanced economies. 
  • The world's GDP should remain around 3%, the lowest medium-term growth forecast since 1990. 

The global economy over the next five years will expand at its weakest pace in more than 30 years, with advanced economies set for sluggish activity in the face of higher interest rates, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday. 

The world's gross domestic product should hover around 3%, the lowest medium-term growth forecast since 1990, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a speech in Washington. 

That rate would run well below the 3.8% average from the past two decades.

In 2023, it foresees growth at less than less than 3%. The IMF in January projected 2.9% growth for this year. The economy grew by 3.4% in 2022. The IMF will release its World Economic Outlook next week.

The bleak growth outlook comes even as labor markets have been "surprisingly resilient," consumer spending has been strong in most advanced economies, and China is reopening its economy. 

Emerging economies in Asia serve as an especially "bright spot" for momentum in growth. The IMF expects India and China in 2023 to account for half of worldwide growth. 

"So far, we have proven to be resilient climbers," she said. "But others face a steeper climb. Economic activity is slowing in the United States and the Euro Area, where higher interest rates weigh on demand," she said, adding that about 90% advanced economies should see a decline in their growth rate this year. 

The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are among the central banks that have jacked up interest rates to combat decades-high inflation in their respective economies. The benchmark US interest rate stands at 4.75%-5% after starting from zero-0.25% in March 2022. 

While higher interest rates are slicing into demand, central banks must continue fighting inflation and safeguarding financial stability, said Georgieva.  Core inflation is still "stubbornly high" in part because many countries have tight labor markets. 

"There cannot be robust growth without price stability—nor without financial stability. And these days, both need the attention of policymakers," she said. 

Battling inflation has become "more complex" due to the stress hitting the banking sectors in the US and Switzerland. Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed and were seized last month by US regulators and troubled lender Credit Suisse underwent an emergency buyout by UBS with the assistance of Swiss regulators. 

The shakeups were reminders that it's difficult to rapidly switch from a prolonged period of low-interest rates and ample liquidity to much higher rates and scarcer liquidity, the IMF chief said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The judge in Trump's criminal hush-money case who the ex-president has slammed as 'highly partisan' has been deluged with death threats

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:10pm
Former President Donald Trump appears in court for an arraignment before Judge Juan Merchan.
  • The NY judge handling Donald Trump's criminal case has gotten death threats, a source said. 
  • New York Supreme Justice Juan Merchan has received multiple threats over the last week, said the source. 
  • Trump targeted Merchan and his family in verbal and online attacks on the day of his Tuesday arraignment. 

The New York City judge handling former President Donald Trump's criminal "hush-money" case has been facing ongoing death threats and harassment in recent days, Insider has learned. 

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has received multiple threats over the last week — before and after Trump's historic Tuesday arraignment on a 34-count felony indictment inside a Manhattan courthouse, a person familiar with the situation told Insider on Thursday. 

There have been "a number of" harassing calls and emails to Merchan's courthouse chambers for more than a week, the source said. 

A spokesman for New York's Office of Court Administration told Insider in a statement on Thursday that there continues to be a beefed up security presence "in and around" state courthouses. 

"Over the past weeks we have continued to evaluate and assess security concerns and potential threats and have maintained an increased security presence in and around courthouses and throughout the judiciary and will adjust protocols as necessary," court system spokesman Lucian Chalfen said. 

Chalfen added that the state's court system has a Judicial Threat Unit "with offices both inside and outside of New York City, where judges can report harassment, threats, inappropriate contacts and so forth."

"These reports are investigated and appropriate action is taken," Chalfen said. 

Shortly before Trump was arraigned this week on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, he posted about Merchan to his Truth Social app, saying in an all caps rant: "THE HIGHLY PARTISAN JUDGE & HIS FAMILY ARE WELL KNOWN TRUMP HATERS."


The former president even verbally attacked Merchan and his family hours after the judge warned Trump during his arraignment not to make remarks that could endanger others. 

"This is where we are right now. I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife and family, whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign," Trump alleged during a Tuesday night speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. 

Hours earlier, Merchan told Trump in court: "Please refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest, or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individuals."

A spokesperson for Trump's 2024 presidential campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider on Thursday.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who ultimately secured Trump's indictment by a grand jury, has also been targeted in an onslaught of harassing calls and has had multiple death threats lodged against him in recent weeks, as Insider has previously reported

The Democratic district attorney — who Trump has verbally attacked and called a "lunatic" and "danger" to the country — continues to receive threats, a source familiar with the matter told Insider on Thursday. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How a 23-year-old earned about $35,000 in 3 months teaching ChatGPT to newbies

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:08pm
Lance Junck made close to $35,000 in just three months selling his ChatGPT course on Udemy.
  • Lance Junck, 23, earned $35,000 in just three months selling his ChatGPT course on Udemy.
  • Junck's has enrolled over 15,000 students in his seven-hour "ChatGPT Masterclass."
  • He has no doubt the course will keep selling as people start to recognize "the power of the tool." 

Workers are turning to OpenAI's ChatGPT to make their jobs easier — and one guy is raking in tens of thousands of dollars teaching people how. 

In late December, Lance Junck, 23, launched an online course on education platform Udemy that teaches people to use ChatGPT. In just three months, Junck has enrolled more than 15,000 students from around the world in his "ChatGPT Masterclass: A Complete ChatGPT Guide for Beginners," raking in $34,913 in profits so far, according to screenshots of his sales dashboard reviewed by Insider. 

When the Austin-based, full-time brand strategist first used ChatGPT last November, he was "blown away" by its impressive generative capabilities. Junck said he wanted to make the bot accessible to everyone and saw an opportunity to teach people how to use the tool with an online course. 

"There is an incredible learning curve to ChatGPT," he said. "I think people are kind of afraid of ChatGPT, so I tried to make it warm and exciting and approachable." 

Junck admits that he's self-taught: He said he spends hours on the bot every day, asking it to do things like write an introduction to a novel or product descriptions for certain foods to better understand how to prompt the bot.

On top of that, he said he consumes "every piece of ChatGPT content" on the internet, including articles and posts on LinkedIn, GitHub, and Reddit. 

The 'ChatGPT Masterclass' has enrolled more than 15,000 students globally

The course, which is more than seven hours long and is now priced at $20, includes 50 lectures aimed at beginners and took Junck three weeks to film. 

It starts with how to write your first ChatGPT prompt, then moves into specific ChatGPT applications for businesses, students, and programmers. It also includes tutorials on how to make art with AI image generator DALL-E 2, suggestions on the best ChatGPT plug-ins, and even an introduction to GPT-4, OpenAI's newest language model. 

Within a week, 90 students enrolled in the course, Junck said. Since then, the course has enrolled between 200 and 250 new students each day. 15,250 students have taken the course as of the time this article was written, according to Udemy

Students, he said, are anywhere from 20 to 50 years old, and include college students and working professionals. While the majority come from the US, Junck's course has attracted students in India, Japan, and Canada. Students from Venezuela, Russia, and parts of the Middle East — countries where ChatGPT isn't available — have also flocked to the course, he said.

Junck credits the demand for his services, in part, to his expertise in marketing and SEO, which he said is why his course is one of the first to appear amid 1,266 results when searching for ChatGPT on Udemy. He also promoted the course on LinkedIn.

Some students didn't like the course, but the demand continues to rise

While the responses to the course has been mostly positive — it has a 4.5-star rating on Udemy — some students said his course is too surface-level and not any better than free ChatGPT-instruction videos on YouTube, according to course reviews on Udemy. 

Still, demand continues to rise, and Junck has even expanded his ChatGPT instruction beyond Udemy to target companies. 

He's taught startups like ClearDesk how to implement ChatGPT into their marketing, human resources, and operations teams. He has gotten paid speaking opportunities to teach companies like CEO advisory firm Sage Executive Group and tech news site HPCwire how to use ChatGPT, according to emails reviewed by Insider.

Jerry Rollins, the chairman of Sage, told Insider that Junck's services were "very informative and insightful." Tom Tabor, a spokesperson for HPCwire, told Insider that "Lance has a current grasp of the GPT space and the possibilities of the technology." "We needed his insights of the tech so we could understand how to integrate it into our business processes," Tabor said. 

ClearDesk did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.

Junck, who has no formal AI training, admits that he's had doubts around whether the course would sell. He said he's wondered whether there's "some kid at Cornell getting his PhD in large language models" teaching ChatGPT that would "blow me out of the water."

Still, given the meteoric rise of generative AI tools, Junck believes there will be an even greater need for AI courses in the near future.

As of April, Udemy has enrolled 417,212 students across more than 429 ChatGPT classes on the site — an increase of 47% from the previous month, Callie Kaminski, a Udemy spokesperson, told Insider. 

Junck, who is running his business on top of his full-time job at an e-commerce company, said he plans to add lectures on how to use other generative AI tools like Microsoft's new Bing and Google's Bard when they are officially launched to the public. He also wants to focus on striking larger deals with companies, he said. 

Have you used ChatGPT or other AI chatbots in an interesting way? Email the reporter at 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why there's almost no chance Clarence Thomas gets impeached, despite an ever-growing list of ethics violations

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 3:01pm
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
  • There are renewed calls to impeach Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas amid new ethics concerns.
  • Only one justice has ever been impeached, but he kept his job when the effort failed in the Senate. 
  • The chances of a GOP-controlled House voting to impeach the conservative judge are slim to none. 

Following a bombshell report revealing that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been accepting — and failing to disclose — luxury vacations from a wealthy Republican donor for years, there have been renewed calls to remove the judge from the nation's highest court. 

Thomas, who was accused of sexual misconduct before joining the Supreme Court, made headlines last year when he refused to step down from cases that related to his wife's political actions. Critics have called for him to resign or be removed from the court, and many are doing so again now.

But the only way to remove a Supreme Court justice is via impeachment, and only one justice has ever been impeached. No justice has ever been successfully fired this way. 

That means that, like it or not, Thomas can continue to flout judicial ethics and keep his job. 

New bias accusations against Thomas

For over two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury vacations from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow, including trips on Crow's plane and yacht, and stays at his private properties, according to a ProPublica report published Thursday. 

"By accepting the trips, Thomas has broken long-standing norms for judges' conduct, ethics experts and four current or retired federal judges said," the report said. 

Not only that, two ethics law experts who spoke to ProPublica said these vacations appear to violate a law that requires justices, judges, members of Congress, and federal officials to disclose gifts. 

This isn't the first time that the justice's relationships with conservative bigwigs have caused concern. 

Last year, it was revealed that Thomas' wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, took part in efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. Amid the backlash, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself from any January 6 cases.

Thomas's career on the high court also started off in scandal when a former coworker, Anita Hill, accused him of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process. Thomas was confirmed anyway in a 52-48 vote. 

Only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached 

Violating judicial ethics, refusing to recuse oneself from cases, and even breaking the law aren't reasons enough to have a justice removed from the Supreme Court. 

According to the Supreme Court's website, a justice "can only be removed from office by impeachment." 

Like the process for impeaching a president, this would involve a simple majority of the House of Representatives voting to impeach, and then two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict. 

The chances of this happening to Thomas are slim

Only one other Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached, and he wasn't convicted.

In 1804, the House voted to impeach Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase for "refusing to dismiss biased jurors and of excluding or limiting defense witnesses in two politically sensitive cases," according to the Senate's website

When the impeachment was heard by the Senate the following year, a majority of lawmakers voted to acquit Chase, so he kept his job.

While only a simple majority is needed to impeach a Supreme Court justice in the House, it's hard to see that happening in an environment where Republicans hold control. 

And even if the House did vote to impeach, it would still require a supermajority of 66 votes to convict in the Senate, and power is nearly split at the moment. The last time one party held supermajority power was over 50 years ago when the 89th Congress saw Democrats holding 68 seats in 1967.

In other words, scandals may come and go, but Supreme Court justices are for life.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Got a thriving side job? Here's how and when to tell your boss about it — and why you probably should.

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:59pm
Side hustles are a great way to fulfill a passion or make some extra cash.
  • Forty-four percent of Americans had a side hustle in 2022, according to a survey by Lending Tree. 
  • Side gigs can be a source of ancillary income, but they can also take up a lot of time and energy.
  • Experts say it's important to tell your boss about your side hustle. Here are some tips.

You've started a side hustle. (Congrats!) And it's going pretty well. (Go you!) It's probably time to tell your boss about it. (Wait, what?)

Talking to your manager about your new venture might sound daunting, but experts say that it's important information to disclose. For starters, there are legal implications: You want to make clear that your side hustle is within the bounds of your company's policies on outside employment. While most employers don't ban side hustles, they often restrict the type of work you're able to do so that it doesn't pose a competitive issue or conflict of interest. 

Forty-four percent of Americans had a side hustle in 2022, a 13% increase from 2020, according to an online survey of 2,073 US consumers between the ages of 18 and 76 from the financial services marketplace Lending Tree. The risk of a possible recession and layoffs across prominent companies could continue driving entrepreneurial folks toward an outlet for ancillary income this year, which makes the question of when and how to address a side hustle with managers increasingly pressing. 

From a professional point of view, being transparent with your boss helps build trust. Besides, you wouldn't want your manager to find out about your side hustle from Instagram, especially if you're using the platform for marketing, said Susie Moore, a business coach and the author of "What If It Does Work Out?: How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life." 

"It's important to be upfront and honest," Moore said. "You're not hiding anything, and a side hustle is a worthy endeavor that shows you have initiative."

Insider spoke with three experts, including an entrepreneur who took her side hustle full time, who shared their advice and tips on how to have a productive conversation with your manager.

Steel your nerves

Research by Jennifer Nahrgang, a professor at the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business, found that employees fear disclosing their side hustles to their bosses for a number of reasons. Some didn't want their managers to think they didn't have enough to do at work. Others were concerned about being judged for having a side hustle for financial reasons. 

One of their biggest concerns, though, has to do with the so-called ideal-worker norm, she said. "There's this notion that ideal employees are devoted to their jobs and available 24/7," she said. "Some worry that having a side hustle may signal lack of commitment."

In a survey of 50 managers, Nahrgang found that about 35% of managers were supportive of their employees' side hustles; 30% were unbothered as long as the side hustle didn't interfere with their jobs; and 20% thought it wasn't their business. But a minority of managers were worried about employee burnout or concerned that their employees' side hustles would take time away from the organization. 

Knowing these potential reservations can help you decide how best to broach the subject, she said. 

Be transparent — to a point  

If you're still in the ideation phase of entrepreneurship, Moore, the business coach, recommended keeping mum until you're sure you're going to pursue it. "You don't want to have a conversation with your boss about something you're feeling out if it's going to fizzle in a couple of months."

If your side hustle is already a thriving business, you tell your boss right away.

But if your side hustle is already a thriving business, you should mention it right away, she said. 

When it comes to figuring out what to say, don't divulge more than you need to. Moore suggested saying something like, "There's this exciting thing that I do on evenings and weekends, and I find that I'm learning new skills that I use in my day job."

Don't be apologetic or act as though you're asking for permission, but there's also no need to be overly fawning. Don't say, for instance, that your side gig is your life's passion, and that you can't wait to do it full time.

Chase Coleman, a full time employee at Amazon, already had his side hustle as a content creator before joining the tech company. However, he disclosed this information to Amazon during his initial interviews. 

"I would rather get out ahead of it than them find it and I feel like I'm getting fired because of it," he said.

His managers did not care if he had a side gig, as long as it wasn't impacting his work and that it didn't reflect the company poorly, Coleman said.

Talk about the benefits of your side hustle

Chase Coleman said addressing the question head-on helps limit confusion or stress down the road.

Even bosses who greenlight side hustles want your full attention during work hours. "The minute you make a mistake or your performance slips, your boss might think you're not focused," Nahrgang said. 

That's why it's critical to maintain a strong level of performance. Keep hitting your deadlines and meeting your goals. If you have a good relationship with your boss, consider having a frank conversation about how your full-time work benefits from the side hustle. 

"Talk about what you're learning and highlight how it gives you a creative outlet that helps you be more energized and more satisfied with life and work," she said.

That's how Lissette Calveiro positioned her side gig to her manager in 2013. Calveiro is the founder of The Marketable Millennial — a blog focused on careers, mentoring, and breaking down the barriers to social-media influencing. In telling her boss about her venture, she explained how it allowed her to develop new skills that benefited her then employer, a PR company.

The experience she gained building her brand on social media, fostering a community, and marketing herself helped her do the same with clients at her full-time job, she said. When Calveiro's social platforms started growing, other teams at her company asked her to help improve their own results. Being transparent about her thriving business allowed Calveiro to help the company while simultaneously building her own.

Set boundaries for your time and energy

Finally, it's important to set parameters on how you'll divide your time and energy — and to make sure that your boss knows how you're reinforcing those boundaries.

"I highly believe in not just time management, but energy management," Calveiro said. "The things that drain your energy, dedicate time to it," she said, adding that sometimes those tasks should be saved for the weekends so as to not sacrifice the energy you need for the workday.

"If I tried to do it in between lunch breaks, I would come back for my lunch break drained," she said. "You want to protect your employer's space, you want to protect your own side-hustle space, and the more you cannot intermingle them, the better."

Read the original article on Business Insider

This could've been an email: If MLB can speed up games, bosses can shorten meetings. Here's how.

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:58pm
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani, center, became the first player to be penalized as both a pitcher and batter by MLB's new pitch clock.
  • Baseball's new season is underway with a pitch clock to speed up games.
  • That got us thinking about other sleepy pastimes in need of livening up, specifically meetings.
  • If new rules can improve game speed, surely bosses can make meetings run more efficiently.

Baseball, arguably America's sleepiest sport, began its new season last week with changes designed to speed up games and inject more action. Amen.

Don't get us wrong: We happen to enjoy baseball and all its kooky charm. But with an average length of three hours and four minutes, the ballgame gets a little, shall we say, dull. So far, though, a new pitch clock appears to be working: The average length of games in the first four days of this season was two hours and 38 minutes.

This progress got us thinking about other snoozy American pastimes in need of enlivening. First on our list: meetings.

In a survey of 632 employees in more than 20 industries conducted last summer by Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, workers reported spending 18 hours a week on average in meetings. They suggested roughly a third of those meetings were a waste of their time.

If Major League Baseball can speed up games, surely bosses can make meetings more efficient, right?

It's an opportune moment to be asking that question, according to Rogelberg, the author of "The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance."

He said MLB's willingness to experiment with new rules for an old game ought to be an inspiration to managers. "So much of what we do at work is out of habit, but every so often we need to reflect and ask: Is this working for us?" he said.

His research suggests it isn't. An analysis of the survey estimated that attending unnecessary meetings cost companies about $25,000 per employee annually and that an organization of 5,000 employees might be wasting about $101 million a year on meetings.

"As we move into this new post-pandemic world, managers need to be intentional about meetings, think differently about agendas, and ask for feedback about how to make them better," he said.

Figure out what to subtract — be it time or chairs

When people are faced with a problem, their natural response is to solve it by adding things rather than subtracting them, according to Robert Sutton, an organizational psychologist at Stanford University. "We do this with Legos, with recipes, and with meetings," he told Insider.

But removal is often a better bet. "If you have a situation where things are too slow, too complicated, or too boring, seek out constraints that encourage subtraction," Sutton said.

That is, in essence, what MLB is doing with the pitch clock: Pitchers now have 15 seconds to start their motion with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on. And they may make only two pick-off attempts per at-bat to keep runners close to their bases.

Try, for instance, forcing yourself to cut meetings by half: Your weekly meeting becomes an every-other-week meeting; your hourlong meetings become 30-minutes ones. Or try inserting some friction: Remove chairs from your conference rooms so that people have to stand, or limit how long attendees are allowed to talk.

"There might be times when it's better to go slower, but you're getting rid of the exceptions," Sutton said.

Be ruthless about the guest list

Subtraction is a starting point. Rogelberg said you should also think about how meetings are run and who's invited.

"Anyone scheduling a meeting is in a position of power," he said. "So you need to act with intentionality in figuring out who needs to be there, how long it needs to last, and what needs to happen."

Remember Parkinson's law: Work expands to fit whatever time is allotted for it. Allocating 45 minutes for a meeting ensures it will take precisely that long. But you can use this to your advantage by scheduling a shorter meeting.

Rogelberg recommended drafting a meeting agenda without generic topics but with "questions to be answered" — he said that framing success as answers can help you know whether the meeting achieves its goals.

Ask for advice

Just as MLB needs to consider the fan experience of being at the ballpark or watching a game on TV, bosses need to think about their workers' experiences in meetings, Rogelberg said.

That's why one of the best ways to improve your meetings is to ask the people attending for feedback. "When they have bad experiences in meetings, it has negative consequences for you as their manager," Rogelberg said.

Rogelberg's research has suggested that poorly run meetings can dent morale and even increase employees' desire to quit.

"Instead of putting people in hours of meetings without ever asking them about what they're accomplishing, you need to engage," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 worst US cities for job growth and earning potential in 2023

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:54pm
Bakersfield, California (pictured above) was ranked the worst city for job opportunities and earning potential, according to a new study from Checkr.
  • There are more job openings than seekers in the US, but not all cities have equal opportunities.
  • HR firm Checkr ranked the worst US cities for employment opportunities and earning potential.
  • Cities based around agriculture and manufacturing have seen slower job growth and lower salaries.

While there are more jobs available than there are job seekers in the US, the opportunities are not equal throughout the country.

Earlier this week, background check firm Checkr released a study ranking the best and worst American cities for employment opportunities and earning potential in 2023 after analyzing data on 100 cities from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies. 

Employment opportunities for each city were evaluated based on its unemployment rate, size and growth of its labor force, the percentage of jobs open, and the percentage of open jobs, according to the study. Earning potential was based on each city's real per capita personal income, 10-year income growth, and percentage of households that make over $200,00 a year.

While the tech industry in cities like Austin, San Jose, and San Francisco continues to drive job growth with high-paying jobs, the agriculture, manufacturing, automative, and education industries in small cities are seeing slower job growth and lower salaries, Sarah Korelevich, the author of the report, told Insider.

Workers in lower-ranked cities make an average of $47,521 a year, she said. 

"The findings show that the current state of the US job market varies in big and small cities," Korelevich said. "In general, large and growing mid-sized cities have a more diverse job market with a wider range of industries and high-paying job opportunities, while small cities tend to have a more limited job market that is often focused on specific industries such as agriculture or manufacturing."

The 10 American cities with the worst employment opportunities and job salaries, according to Checkr, are: 

1. Bakersfield, California

2. Augusta, Georgia

3. Scranton, Pennsylvania

4. Buffalo, New York

5. Jackson, Mississippi

6. Rochester, New York 

7. Syracuse, New York 

8. Toledo, Ohio

9. El Paso, Texas 

10. Lakeland, Florida 

Bakersfield's economy is dominated by industries like agriculture, petroleum, and manufacturing, according to Forbes, with an unemployment rate of 8.9% as of February of this year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall US unemployment rate as of that month was 3.6%. 

Government, health care, retail trade, and manufacturing industries primarily make up Augusta's economy, according to 2020 data from the Augusta Economic Development Authority. Augusta's median household income is $9,600 below the national median income, per AEDA. 

Jobs in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and construction are prominent in Scranton, a town with a "less healthy job market" than cities of similar size, according to U.S. News & World Report. Jackson, Toledo, El Paso, and Lakeland  also have a "less healthy job market," per US News. 

"Overall, the current state of the US job market is improving, but challenges remain in certain industries and geographic regions," Korelevich said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 surprising things you can recycle, from flip-flops to human hair

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:54pm
  • Innovators around the world are finding creative ways to recycle things we throw away.
  • Human hair can soak up oil spills, while used coffee grounds can be made into sunglasses frames.
  • We found out how companies are repurposing old chopsticks, flip-flops, and other waste.

Brilliant minds around the world are finding new ways to reuse and repurpose your chopsticks, your flip-flops, your hair, and even your body.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Investors should brace for corporate profits to see their biggest drop since the start of the pandemic, Goldman Sachs says

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:48pm
Friday's inflation print shocked investors.
  • Goldman Sachs strategists say they expect corporate profits to see their steepest decline since 2020.

  • There are only three sectors they expect to have seen expanded profit margins last quarter. 
  • The vast majority of other industries will likely see their margins drop by over 200 basis points.

As markets head into first-quarter earnings season, Goldman Sachs strategists say corporate profits are set for their steepest decline since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Earnings per share are expected to decline 7% year-over-year, according to a note from the bank published this week, along with a "significant deterioration" from the -1% year-over-year growth posted in the last three months of 2022. 

"However, if analyst projections are realized, this quarter will represent the trough in S&P 500 earnings growth.  Materials (-32%) and Health Care (-20%) are expected to report the largest earnings declines," the note reads. "Communication Services (-18%) and Info Tech (-16%) stocks are also expected to announce dramatic EPS declines despite recent surging share prices of some of these sectors' largest constituents."

There are only three industries that are forecasted to post expanded margins in the last quarter. Energy and industrials are expected to report year-over-year EPS growth of more than 11%, while consumer discretionary is expected to rise over 9% for the same time frame.

"With margins projected to contract by a greater amount than in any other quarter since the pandemic, investors will focus on which companies manage to preserve margins and by what means," the analysts wrote. 

The majority of other sectors will likely see their margins come down by over 200 basis points.

There's a "unique level of uncertainty heading into earnings season," because of the string of last month's bank failures, analysts said. The full impact of the banking sector's turmoil won't be reflected in the upcoming earnings reports as the turmoil struck late in the quarter, but "uncertainty is elevated and investors will be focused on the path forward."

Financial sector giants like Citigroup and JPMorgan will kick off earnings season next week, with 87% of S&P 500 to report first-quarter fiscal results by May 5th.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Subway is giving out free Cadbury Creme Egg sandwiches in the UK ahead of Easter weekend — and it is surprisingly not a late April Fools' joke

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:38pm
A close-up of Subway's Cadbury Creme Egg sandwich melt.
  • Subway is debuting a new sandwich that will be given out at four UK locations on Good Friday.
  • The sandwich features the chain's Italian bread, with melted Cadbury Creme Eggs inside.
  • The sandwich chain assured Insider the creation is not a late April Fools' Day joke, as some have speculated — or hoped.

Just ahead of Easter weekend, up to 500 lucky — or perhaps unlucky — customers in the United Kingdom will get a chance to try Subway's latest sandwich creation: The SubMelt with Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Four Subway locations across the UK will each carry 125 of the free six-inch sandwiches, which include the melted Easter treat wedged between Italian bread, according to the chain. The participating stores in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Swansea will give out the sandwiches on a first come, first serve basis, the company said Thursday.  

A Subway spokesperson assured Insider that the sandwich is not a late April Fools' Day joke, and confirmed the sandwiches will indeed be available in the UK on Good Friday. 

"We're delighted to have collaborated with Cadbury this Easter," Rusty Warren, a senior new product development and product innovation manager for Subway, said in a statement. "Our Italian White Bread and Cadbury Creme Eggs make the most flavorsome combination — a perfect seasonal treat!"

—Subway® UK (@SubwayUK) April 6, 2023



The announcement of the sandwich has drawn mixed reactions on social media, with some users calling it "the grossest thing Subway has ever done," while others joked about the likelihood they would be mocked for enjoying it or compared it to putting Nutella on bread.

"The highly-anticipated Creme Egg season is in full swing and we're so excited to launch this innovative product with Subway as a final hoorah of the season," Cadbury Creme Egg brand executive Charlotte Docker said. "We can't wait for the response of those lucky enough to try this surprisingly delicious merging of sweet and savory."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Masters then and now: What golf's biggest stars looked like when their careers started

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:31pm
Phil Mickelson in 1995.
  • Because golf allows for long careers, many of the best golfers have been playing for a decade or more.
  • Many of the world's greatest golfers turn pro as teenagers and grow up right before our eyes.
  • Some golfers look entirely different now than they did when their careers began.
  • Below we take a look at what guys like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day looked like before they were famous.
Dustin Johnson in 2007 (age 23).Dustin Johnson now.Dustin Johnson of 4Aces GC cleans his golf club on the driving range during the second round of LIV Golf Orlando.Phil Mickelson in 1991 (age 20).Phil Mickelson now.Phil Mickelson of HyFlyers GC seen on the 11th hole during the pro-am ahead of LIV Golf Orlando.Tiger Woods in 1990 (age 14).Tiger Woods now.Jon Rahm in 2011 (age 17)Jon Rahm now.Rory McIlroy in 2007 (age 17).Rory McIlroy now.Jordan Spieth in 2010 (age 16).Jordan Spieth now.Jordan Spieth tees off on the second hole during the third round of the Valspar Championship.Scottie Scheffler in 2014 (age 17).Scottie Scheffler plays a shot at the Byron Nelson Championship while still in high school.Scottie Scheffler now.Scottie Scheffler reads the green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.Patrick Cantlay in 2011 (age 19).Patrick Cantlay plays a shot at the US Open at an amateur.Patrick Cantlay now.Patrick Cantlay hits from the 12th tee during a practice round at the Masters.Bryson DeChambeau in 2015 (age 22).Bryson DeChambeau now.Adam Scott in 2000 (age 20).Adam Scott now.Adam Scott plays his tee shot at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.Sergio Garcia in 1998 (age 18).Sergio Garcia now.Bubba Watson in 2005 (age 27).Bubba Watson now.Tommy Fleetwood in 2008 (age 17)Tommy Fleetwood now.Justin Thomas in 2013 (age 20).Justin Thomas now.Justin Thomas works on the range during ahead of the Masters.Ernie Els in 1990 (age 20).Ernie Els now.Rickie Fowler in 2007 (age 18).Rickie Fowler now.Miguel Angel Jimenez in 1994 (age 30).Miguel Angel Jimenez now.Henrik Stenson in 2000 (age 24).Henrik Stenson now.Jason Day in 2006 (age 18).Jason Day now.Jason Day plays a practice round ahead of the Masters.Matt Kuchar in 1998 (age 19).Matt Kuchar now.Vijay Singh in 1993 (age 30)Vijay Singh now.Jason Dufner in 2004 (age 26).Jason Dufner now.Patrick Reed in 2006 (age 15)Patrick Reed now.Justin Rose in 1998 (age 17).Justin Rose now.Hideki Matsuyama in 2010 (age 18)Hideki Matsuyama now.Ian Poulter in 1999 (age 23).Ian Poulter today.John Daly in 1991 (age 25)John Daly now.Brooks Koepka in 2013 (age 23)Brooks Koepka now.Read the original article on Business Insider

Kevin McCarthy says he's 'very concerned' he won't reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling because Biden 'never wants to meet'

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:28pm
US President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.
  • Kevin McCarthy said he's "very concerned" he and Biden won't reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
  • He blamed the lack of progress on Biden's unwillingness to meet and negotiate a deal.
  • But Biden has been adamant that Congress must past a clean debt ceiling bill without spending cuts.

It's not easy to be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy right now.

For months, he has been trying to reach a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and keep the US on top of paying its bills before the country defaults — an unprecedented economic catastrophe that could happen as soon as July. He's remained true to his stance that Republicans will not agree to a clean debt ceiling deal, and that his party should use it as leverage to achieve spending cuts on Democratic priorities.

But weeks have dragged on and McCarthy has made no progress toward a deal, while President Joe Biden has been adamant he will not negotiate with the Speaker over pairing spending cuts with raising the debt ceiling. Congress passed a clean spending-cut-free debt ceiling increase three times under former President Donald Trump.

The stalemate has McCarthy worried.

"I sat down with the president on February 1, and the president never wants to meet," McCarthy said on Bloomberg TV this week. "I'm very concerned about the debt ceiling. I want to make sure we don't have conflict."

But with neither side apparently willing to budge, conflict is on the horizon. McCarthy told reporters earlier this week that he's "never going to move a bill that just raises the debt ceiling," but that's exactly what Biden wants — and he thinks any discussion on a budget and spending cuts should be separate from the debt ceiling.

"My hope is that House Republicans can present the American public with your budget plan before the Congress leaves for the Easter recess so that we can have an in-depth conversation when you return," Biden wrote in a letter at the end of March to McCarthy. "As I have repeatedly said, that conversation must be separate from prompt action on the Congress' basic obligation to pay the nation's bills and avoid economic catastrophe."

Adding to the complications is a new report from The New York Times that said, according to aides familiar with McCarthy's thinking, the speaker does not have confidence in some leading GOP lawmakers who are working on the budget and debt ceiling deals. 

The lack of progress among Republicans even has some centrist Democrats willing to step in. As Politico reported, some of those Democrats are working with GOP lawmakers to craft an emergency plan to raise the debt ceiling, but details have not yet been released and it's unlikely to make much progress given it would undermine Democrats strict message that the debt ceiling should be raised cleanly.

Regardless of the secret plans some lawmakers are concocting, the way most Democrats see it is that there is no other option aside from a debt ceiling increase, no strings attached. Brendan Boyle, ranking Democratic member of the House Budget Committee, told CNBC on Wednesday that he understands the difficult position McCarthy is in — but it's no excuse to let the country default.

"He made so many different promises to different groups in order to finally be elected Speaker," Boyle said. "He's just having the toughest time satisfying those demands either when it comes to passing a budget or to putting a bill on the floor — clean — to raise the debt ceiling."

"Look, at the end of the day, there's only one way this can end: and that is a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling," he added. "Period. There is no other way."

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 email and Instagram DM templates that influencers use to reach out to brands to collaborate with

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:22pm
Tori Dunlap.
  • Many influencers land paid partnerships by reaching out directly to brands.
  • Some slide into a company's DMs on Instagram or TikTok, while others email the influencer team.
  • Several influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok shared the exact templates they use. 

For many influencers, brand collaborations are one of the main ways to earn income, especially for those who work full-time as content creators.

Making the first move by DMing or emailing a brand is usually the best way to get in touch for a potential collab, according to several influencers that Insider previously spoke with. 

Some influencers, like Jalyn Baiden, focus their outreach efforts on a specific social-media platform, like Instagram. Baiden left her day job in digital marketing in 2021 to pursue content creation more seriously, and now has around 6,000 Instagram followers. Her Instagram template that she used to successfully pitch brands has helped her earn enough to sustain her lifestyle in Virginia. 

"So far, I've made 40% of my old salary in the last four months," Baiden previously told Insider. "It's crazy to even say that out loud."

Here is the Instagram DM template that Baiden uses to reach out to brands: 

Hello! My name is Jalyn, and I'm a content creator from Richmond, VA. I'm super interested in partnering with [brand] and would love to send a collaboration proposal to your marketing team. Could you please let me know the correct email contact? Thanks so much!

Read more templates she uses to get paid deals and earn five figures this year

Meanwhile, influencer London Lazerson, who has 9.5 million TikTok followers, uses one of two LinkedIn templates he's perfected to reach out to brands. The strategy earned him six figures in 2021.

Here is one of the LinkedIn templates that Lazerson has used to cold-contact brands: 

Hey, my name is London Lazerson. I've got 8.5 million on TikTok. I would love to work with you. I don't know what that looks like, but let's talk. Check me out. [Link to his TikTok profile.]

Read more on the LinkedIn templates he uses to get in touch with CEOs for brand deals

Although social media is a powerful tool to get in touch with brands directly, some influencers, like Gigi Kovach, who has 12,600 Instagram followers, prefer to focus their efforts on email outreach. Kovach has a "pitch bank" of email templates, and chooses one depending on the company, product, or experience. Each template has a clear indication of her rates and what goes into that amount, so that brands know what they're paying for. 

"It's not just some arbitrary, 'you owe me $500,' it's a breakdown of everything that they're getting in return for that $500," she previously told Insider. 

Here is a recent template she used to successfully pitch a brand over email

Insider spoke to nine influencers who shared their exact DM and email templates used to land brand collaborations.

Email templates influencers use to pitch brands:DM templates influencers use to pitch brands: Read the original article on Business Insider

The State of Payment Methods: More Choice and Economic Changes Are Affecting How Consumers Spend

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:00pm
  • Cash and checks are declining but not disappearing.
  • Debit, credit, and prepaid cards will compete for growing digital spending.
  • FedNow's launch could increase the prominence of bank-based payments and intensify competition.

Although debit still reigns supreme, with consumer preferences moving toward digital, cash and checks will continue to be displaced in the US. 

Consumer interest has been skewing toward digital alternatives, and cash is taking a major hit: Less than one-fifth (19.0%) of US adults cited cash as their preferred method for in-person spending in 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Banks. Younger consumers and fewer low-value purchases are driving the dissipation of cash. But even though cash usage is dwindling, the Federal Reserve reports that 79% of US adults still hold cash daily. It is suspected that the wide availability of ATMs, state requirements for stores to accept cash, and typical weekly purchases among Black and Hispanic adults will keep cash from completely fizzling out. 

Along with cash, checks are trending downward: In October 2021, just 46% of US adults stated that they had used a check in the past 30 days, according to the Federal Reserve. Generally, consumers use checks for infrequent, high-value transactions. However, with the increasing availability of online bill pay and mobile peer-to-peer payment apps, digitization and convenience are hastening the check decline. Additionally, business transactions made with checks plummeted to 33.0% in North America last year due to a need for more efficient reconciliation, better fraud control, and cost savings, according to an Association for Financial Professionals survey. 

Cash and check usage may be dwindling, but debit and credit cards are seeing upticks among economic uncertainty. With that being said, an estimated 82% of US adults have access to a debit card, per Pulse, making growth difficult. For credit cards, the risk lies in the ability for consumers to make minimum payments paired with less frequent high-ticket purchases as concerns about inflation and job security persist. In order to circumvent these risks and keep consumers spending, issuers are beefing up their rewards programs. 

Another winner of the pandemic has been buy now, pay later (BNPL) as it combines the flexibility of credit with short repayment terms, app-based shopping, and a simple user experience. So long as consumers are struggling to make ends meet, merchant acceptance rates continue to increase, and new entrants improve accessibility, BNPL will keep growing and threatening the use of credit cards. 

As consumers become more concerned about the economy and job security while also steadily adopting new digital solutions, we are seeing shifts away from traditional payment methods. Curious to learn more about the state of payment methods? Click here to purchase this report directly from Insider Intelligence. Looking for more data? Click here to purchase The Payments Ecosystem 2023 collection.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How much YouTube pays for 1,000 views, according to creators

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 1:55pm
  • YouTubers can earn money from a cut of ad revenue on both their shorts and long-form videos.
  • Creators said they got paid between $1.61 and $29.30 for 1,000 views on long-form videos.
  • Shorts made much less money, with creators earning $0.04 to $0.06 per 1,000 views.

How much a YouTube creator earns for 1,000 views can change based on a variety of factors, from the type of content they make to whether they do short-form or long-form video.

Insider has spoken with dozens of creators to understand what they earn for 1,000 views, otherwise known as their RPM rate (revenue per mille). 

Eight YouTubers who make long-form videos shared how much YouTube paid them per 1,000 views, and their answers ranged from $1.61 to $29.30.

At the highest end was YouTuber Josh Mayo.

"It's grown to this massive business that is very lucrative, and I'm very thankful for all of it," Mayo said, adding that his RPM rate went from around $6 in October 2021 to $29.30 in October 2022, growth that he attributed to creating creating more content around personal finance. (Read more about Mayo's business.)

Check out a detailed breakdown of how much the 8 creators earned per 1,000 views

YouTube creators can earn 55% of the revenue from Google-placed ads on their videos when they join the YouTube Partner Program, or YPP. To qualify for the program, they must have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time on their long-form videos.

Creators also recently became able to earn money from YouTube shorts, its short-form video offering. Creators who reach 10 million views in 90 days on Shorts, as well as 1,000 subscribers, are able to join the Partner Program.

So far, these YouTubers have not earned as much money per 1,000 views as long-form creators.

Seven YouTubers shared how much they earned per 1,000 views from shorts. Their RPMs ranged from $0.04 to $0.06.

"Perspective is key here," YouTuber Riley Lemon said. "Yes, right now, you wouldn't be able to quit your full-time job from shorts alone, however, it presents a unique opportunity to grow your personal brand on YouTube at a rate that hasn't been achievable for most creators." She made $383.13 in a month for 7 million views on shorts.

Read a full breakdown of how much money YouTubers earn per 1,000 views from shorts

In this case, YouTube pools revenue from ads on Shorts. YouTube pays an undisclosed amount to record labels for music licensing, and creators get 45% of the remaining money based on their percentage of the total shorts views on the platform.

Creators on YouTube typically have a number of income streams, including sponsored content. Here's more about how they make money, and how much they earn:Read the original article on Business Insider

I took ThredUp's Fashion Footprint quiz. My annual shopping habits equaled driving 614 miles in a gas-powered car.

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 1:43pm
A ThredUp sorting facility in Phoenix.
  • ThredUp's Fashion Footprint calculator tallies the climate impact of the clothes we buy.
  • My annual impact was the equivalent of driving 614 miles in a gas-powered car. 
  • Buying secondhand, avoiding online returns, and machine washing on cold are better for the planet.
  • This article is part of Insider's weekly newsletter on sustainability. Sign up here.

Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok stories means getting inundated with pretty women trying to sell you something — typically fast fashion. I've been sucked into the latest trends more often than I'd like to admit. 

A cozy sweater, colorful printed pants, or cute shoes tend to be my weaknesses.

Turns out, the climate impact of my annual shopping habits is still 65% lower than the average customer, at least according to ThredUp's new Fashion Footprint calculator. The online reseller launched the tool this week to help people identify ways to shrink their impact, such as by buying secondhand, reselling unwanted clothes, avoiding returning online purchases, and machine washing on cold. 

"This was really born out of a lot of feedback from ThredUp shoppers who said they wanted to understand this better and to break their fast-fashion addictions," Anthony Marino, ThredUp's president, told Insider. 

The fashion industry has an overproduction problem, making more than 100 billion garments each year, or about 12 times the global population. Making all that cotton and leather, plus polyester and fake leather — which are mainly plastic — uses a lot of energy, water, and chemicals. Globally, the industry accounts for 4% of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Buying used clothes is an easy way to reduce those impacts, and customers are slowly catching on. Resale captured 9% of the US apparel market in 2022, compared with 3% a decade ago, according to ThredUp's latest annual report. Americans bought 1.4 billion pieces of secondhand apparel last year that they normally would have bought new, a 40% jump over 2021.

Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are driving the growth, especially online. A December survey conducted by GlobalData, the research firm that prepared ThredUp's report, found that Gen Z said two in five items in their closets were secondhand. 

That sounds high, considering the rapid rise of fast-fashion companies like Shein and Pretty Little Thing. Plus, people aren't always truthful in surveys. 

Marino acknowledged that could be the case, because in surveys, young shoppers say they feel pressure from social media to buy the latest trends and have a different outfit every day. Fast fashion serves up cheap goods at that speed. Yet the same shoppers say they want to break the habit because the clothing generally doesn't last long and harms the environment.

"They want an alternative," Marino added. "That's a call to action for ThredUp and other retailers." 

Full transparency from this millennial: My wardrobe is probably 90% new, 10% used. I plugged that into ThredUp's calculator. I buy about a dozen pieces a year, mainly in-store. (The calculator doesn't account for shoes. Oh, the shoes.)

I clean out my closet once a year and donate what I no longer want to ThredUp or Goodwill. ThredUp said it sells at least 63% of what it lists online, while the rest is either reused or recycled through a vetted network of thrift stores, domestic sorters, and international brokers. I do three loads of laundry a month on cold and machine dry them. 

Those habits added up to the equivalent of 563 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions annually, or a little more than a one-way drive from my apartment in Washington, DC, to my hometown in northern Vermont in a gas-powered car.

Correction: April 6, 2023 — An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Americans' secondhand apparel purchases. Americans bought 1.4 billion pieces of secondhand apparel last year that they normally would have bought new, not $1.4 billion worth.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gas prices are on the rise again and drivers can expect more increases to come after steep oil production cuts by OPEC+

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 1:35pm
  • US gas prices have hit a five-month high, fuel-tracker GasBuddy said Thursday. 
  • Americans are paying an average of $3.54 a gallon to fill-up their vehicles, and $3.65 is in sight. 
  • Gas prices are rising following a jump in oil prices after OPEC+ said it will slash production starting in May. 

Americans are seeing gas prices touch five-month highs in early April as OPEC and its allies prepare to cut oil production, and pump prices should continue to rise in the short run, according to GasBuddy. 

The national average gas price has reached $3.54 a gallon, the highest since the Thanksgiving holiday, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a Thursday message on Twitter

He noted a day earlier that prices would rise to $3.55 a gallon by this week, with more states seeing pricier fuel after  OPEC+ surprised markets on Sunday by announcing production cuts of at least 1.2 million barrels a day starting in May. The move was widely seen as preemptive action before a potential recession sets in and to put a floor on oil prices.  

Word of the production cuts by Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries sent oil prices soaring this week.  Prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, have surged by about 8% this week. 

As for pump prices in the US, "increases will likely continue for the next couple of weeks with a climb to ~$3.65/gal likely for now," said De Haan. 

"But it's not all bad news," he said on Wednesday, noting gas prices were about 65 cents a gallon lower than a year ago. 

National gas prices soared past $5 a gallon in 2022, with that first-ever move taking place after oil producer Russia invaded Ukraine.

Brent oil on Thursday traded above $84 a barrel and WTI oil fetched more than $80 a barrel. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here's why the Fed cutting interest rates is a double-edged sword for commercial real estate

Thu, 04/06/2023 - 1:34pm
A pedestrian walks by a commercial property for lease in San Francisco, California.
  • Commercial real estate is widely seen as the next shoe to drop after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
  • A wave of CRE debt is coming due and will need to be refinanced at higher interest rates at a time when occupancy rates are low.
  • Interest rate cuts from the Fed would provide some relief to the CRE space, but not if they come alongside a recession, according to Bank of America.

Commercial real estate is viewed by some investors as the "next shoe to drop" after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month, and potential interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve may not be enough to prevent that shoe from dropping.

A recent note from Bank of America says that's because interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve are a double-edged sword in that while lower interest rates will help companies service their debt, it won't do much good if the rate cuts are accompanied by an economic recession.

Commercial real estate has been in a world of pain ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The industry has been suffering from low occupancy rates as many employers opt for a work-from-home or hybrid work environment. That's led to falling rent prices thanks to an over supply of empty office floors in cities across the country.

Dwindling rents, combined with nearly $450 billion of commercial real estate debt set to be refinanced at higher interest rates over the next year, means the Fed really can continue to break areas of the market with its aggressive interest rate hikes.

But could interest rate cuts from the Fed — which the market expects will happen in the second half of this year — help alleviate ongoing concerns in the commercial real estate market?

Yes and no, according to BofA.

"While lower interest rates would undoubtedly bring relief to CRE borrowers (potentially mitigate credit events for the banks), the asset class is not immune to cyclical challenges, especially if the US economy experiences a hard landing," analyst Ebrahim Poonawala said in a Thursday note.

Any deterioration in the job market can compound the weakness seen in commercial real estate, and growing interest in converting empty office buildings into residential apartments is not a viable short-term solution to the problem. 

And according to BofA's Alan Todd, while lower interest rates would help a lot of commercial real estate debt be refinanced at more accommodative interest rate levels, it may not be that big of a relief due to the mounting concerns plaguing the sector.

"The cost of lending charged is unlikely to decrease materially as credit concerns proliferate since lower interest rates would also likely suggest a weaker overall economy," Todd said.

"At the margin, lower rates would be helpful for some borrowers, but lower CRE prices and tighter lending standards more generally would blunt some of the potential upside for weaker borrowers that lower interest rates might otherwise have delivered," Todd said.

What's clear is that there's no easy fix for the ongoing issues surrounding the commercial real estate market, and even potential rate cuts from the Fed may not be enough to prevent a wave of defaults in the sector. Instead, a wait and see approach is most likely, according to the note.

"We think many lenders will opt to 'kick the can' until market sentiment improves and fundamentals firm with the hope that liquidation proceeds will be higher than they would be if they sold the property in today's market environment," Todd said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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