The free-fallingSears Holdings, parent company of Sears and Kmart, made a truly unorthodox decision this holiday season. The retailer, which generates the vast majority of its dwindling sales from in-store foot traffic, didn’t run any television advertisements for most of the crucial holiday shopping season.
According to the Wall Street Journal, no paid Sears commercials have run nationally since November 25th. No national Kmart commercials have run since November 24th.
The decision, according to the Journal, came from Sears Holdings chief Edward Lampert, over the objections of other executives. Lampert has championed a shift to digital marketing, even as Sears’ overall advertising spending has declined along with the company. In a statement to the Journal, Sears said the shift came after evaluating the effectiveness of its various marketing efforts.
Even in the digital age, abandoning TV entirely would be a highly unusual move for any large consumer business. While TV advertising expenditures have declined across the economy, they still makes up more than 1/3rd of all ad spending. Studies have also found that ads on television are still substantially more effective than those in other media.
The decision is particularly strange in the case of Sears, whose customers tend to be older. Americans over 44 watch vastly more traditional television than younger people, with those over 65 watching nearly three times as much television as those 18-24, according to eMarketer.
Sears, a venerable U.S. institution that was once as innovative as Amazon, has been in disastrousdecline for years now. For a time, that decline could be seen as a product of the shift from brick-and-mortar to online shopping.
But Sears has lagged even other legacy department stores in reacting to that transition. While department stores as a category now generate 15% to 25% of their sales online, eMarketer says that ecommerce generates just 9.3% of Sears’ revenue. Focusing on digital ads might be seen as an effort to move that needle. But it could also be seen as throwing marketing budget at a service that customers just don’t like, while ignoring what still (maybe, just barely) works.
It’s New Year’s Eve 2017, and people are saying, “Out with the old and in with the new.” If you’re one of the millions who cut the cord on their cable television this past year, you might find yourself unable to watch the 2018 countdown. But you don’t need cable to watch the ball drop in New York City or to see Mariah Carey make her ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ comeback on ABC. That’s because 2017 was finally the year streaming television arrived. Here’s how to live stream the New Year’s Eve countdown and ball drop for free — for auld lang syne.
You can watch Ryan Seacrest host ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ — and a whole lot more — using DirecTV Now‘s free seven-day free trial. The service costs $35 per month for a package of at least 60 live channels after the trial ends, but that stretch can get you in on should help you through the holiday and more. DirecTV Now’s basic-level plan packs local affiliates for CBS, FOX, and NBC. But before you sign up, check your local channel availability here, because not every market includes every station.
Hulu with Live TV
FOX’s New Year’s Eve coverage is hosted by Steve Harvey this year, and you can catch it on Hulu with Live TV which also offers CBS and NBC. The service also packs a big on-demand library, which could be good if you get bored of all that confetti and kissing and you just want to binge, instead. Like DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV is free for a week, but it runs $39 per month after the trial is up. One nice thing about Hulu’s offering is that it has an option to add on a cloud DVR service, which might be a smart long-run investment if you want to keep the service for 2018 and beyond.
Depending upon which television channel you want to ring in the new year with, Sling TV might be the choice for you. The service also offers a seven-day free preview as well as Univision and FOX, but you can only get those channels in select markets and on its higher-tiered “Blue” plan, which costs $25 per month after the trial. If you want to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper count it down, Sling’s lower tiered “Orange” plan costs just $20 per month, and offers the cable news giant, but it doesn’t have the local networks. But while Sling TV Blue does have the NFL Network, so it might be a worthwhile investment, if you’re going to watch all the games on Sunday before the festivities begin.
If you’ve got a PlayStation 4 under your TV, PlayStation Vue might be a good choice for you. The live streaming television service offers a five-day free trial and starts at $39 per month after the promotional period ends. The base plan caters to popular live programming (other packages focus on sports and movies), so that’s probably a safe bet for streaming New Year’s programming. But like the others, channels vary by zip code, so check their availability before you sign up.
Google’s YouTube TV isn’t just a portal to its popular video-hosting website. It is also a live streaming television service that offers a seven-day free trial with 40 channels and cloud DVR capability for $35 per month (once the promotion ends). YouTube TV includes all the major networks, including CBS, FOX, and NBC — where host Carson Daly does his yearly thing — but the catch the service only available in select markets (though, there are quite a few).
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. In the race to make it to the top, some values often get dropped along the way. Among these stands out one; namely, honesty.
Car salesmen. Stock investors. Overzealous entrepreneurs. We all know the cliches, and we’ve all heard the stories of scams and cover-ups.
But what is it that drives people to cross boundaries to the point of deceiving customers, employees, and the world at large? Additionally, knowing all the risks associated, why would anyone resort to fraud or cheating to succeed in business?
The answer is that people don’t think too much. We’d prefer to remain blind and be able to follow temptations. But do a bit of investigation, and you’ll quickly learn how to re-frame your mind to stay on the straight path of honesty. Below are a few points to get your gears turning.
1. We think honesty slows us down.
Come on, when was the last time anyone actually read all the terms and conditions? This world runs on a fast pace, and people simply don’t have patience to go through the motions of every task. When we can cut corners, we will.
But when you’re running a company, your decisions have a ripple effect on the market you’re serving. According to an October 2014 study by Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications and public relations firm, honesty is the number one thing consumers want from brands.
So if you don’t want your startup to become a statistic of the 90 percent that fail, on average, make sure to stick to the truth when it comes to your brand. It’ll set you up for success in the long run!
2. We think we won’t get caught.
It’s midnight on a desolate rural road — who will see you run through a red light? Similarly, who would notice if you slipped an extra unlisted ingredient into a product, or told a customer half the truth, being that they wouldn’t be shrewd enough to pick up on it anyway?
These moral quandaries can be paralleled to the famous riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest where no one is around, does it make a sound?” Perhaps it makes a sound, perhaps it doesn’t, depending on who you ask.
But the tree fell, that’s for sure.
We’re beyond kindergarten. We shouldn’t be living our lives in fear of punishment from legal authorities; and conversely, in celebration of victories acquired through dishonest means. That’s a pretty juvenile mindset, and no corporation can stand on the feet of those tenets for long.
Maybe you won’t get caught at first. But repeat dishonest practices will ultimately stain your reputation, because people aren’t stupid and eventually things come to light. All it takes is one small suspicion and you’re doomed. At best, you lose a customer; at worst, you’ll wind up in jail, like Martha Stewart did in 2004.
3. It’s the norm.
It’s the sad truth, According to a University of Massachusetts study led by psychologist Robert S. Feldman, 60% of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.
However, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right. Everyone can hold themselves up to higher standards — it just takes a conscious awareness, and a lot of effort to train oneself to be honest.
Honesty is (indeed) the best policy.
But refreshingly, it’s also quite common to find businesses that run according to the principle of honesty as the best policy.
Companies all over the world are starting to not just recognize the values of honesty, but live by them. “In our business, honesty and transparency is the oxygen of our existence,” states Mati Cohen of Pesach in Vallarta, a holiday hotel program.
This echoes of the founding principles of Buffer, a social media company that embraces the coined term ‘radical transparency’; all its salaries are public and there are no secrets amongst employees, which eliminates much of the animosity that is ever-present in many workplaces.
Tirath Kamdar, co-founder and CEO of jewelry and watch company TrueFacet, says that his company runs by these standards. “The alarmingly opaque nature of the luxury watch and jewelry market motivated us to create TrueFacet. Our goal is to bring transparency back to consumers. We set the standard for jewelry and watches at market value, allowing customers to obtain these products for the most fair price. This is why our customers return time and again.”
Nurturing this character trait requires hard work and patience. Make it a point to recognize how often you utter even little white lies, and correct yourself when you slip.
I hate loving General Electric (GE), its like an ex boyfriend/girlfriend that broke your heart.
Each time you go back, you tell yourself it will be different… they have changed! Yet every time you go back, they break your heart again.
This has now happened to me twice with GE. In 2008, I was riding high, having bought GE in the mid 20’s in 2004, with the promise of an industrial revolution. The finance division was booming and I was up a cool 50% and thought I had found the one!
Then I found out they were cheating on me with someone named subprime! It nearly bankrupted the company, and Uncle Warren had to come to the rescue to save it.
I was frankly, lucky to get out when I did, selling mid panic in the low 20’s. The end result was a 4 year investment that returned roughly negative 20%. I vowed to never make that mistake again…
In early 2015, it was as if GE sent me a text saying… “I miss you… lets get lunch to catch up?” and unfortunately for me, I hit reply. And just like that, we were back together.
The stock had been consolidating all year, and Jeff Immelt had on his shiniest used car salesmen hat, singing sweet nothings into my ear of buybacks, the disposal of the finance assets and refocusing on core industrial operations.
Blah, blah, blah! Next thing I know, this pretty little stock I re bought at 24 and had me sitting on 35% gains, gets cut in half… Apparently the company had a nasty secret spending habit they hid for years and years.
So I had a decision to make mid 2017, do I bail again and take another 20%+ loss? Is this stock destined to break my heart again and again until nothing is left?
I did some soul searching… deep in the woods. And had decided again to leave, never to return.
But as I was leaving the door, with my bags packed, and my prized, signed picture of the Jamaican bobsled team in toe, an event made me hit the pause button.
Jeff Immelt had decided to “step down.”
This left me in a holding pattern for months, until Nov 13th. When new CEO John Flannery issued 2018 guidance that was, lets be kind and just say disastrous. Lowering even the lowest of bars for 2018 to EPS of $1-$1.07.
So, why am I still a holder of GE stock?
To squeeze some more juice out of my “ex” metaphor, GE just checked itself into rehab!
It now realizes it has a serious problem, it has overspent and or had disastrous timing on virtually every major deal it has done in the last 10-15 years. Alstrom, check. Oil assets, check. Finance disposal, check. Buyback, check.
Mr Flannery appears to not need a second corporate jet to follow him around “just in case” unlike Mr Immelt. He also seems to be dead set on costs, which with GE in its current structure will keep him busy for a while.
Why not close your position?
You think I am crazy don’t you, why in the world would I consider keeping or perhaps doubling my position in a stock that has done nothing but hurt me?
The reason is pretty simple, all of the dirty laundry appears to be in the open now. No more secret spending accounts or ill researched / timed acquisitions (for now). Mr Flannery has all but told anyone that will listen that the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 will suck, and to not invest.
He didn’t “kitchen sink” an earnings report, he lit the whole house on fire.
Mr Flannery has called for a new approach to doing business at GE and more importantly to transparency, apparently not subscribing to Immelt’s pyramid scheme like approach to GE’s cash flow. He has acknowledged the pension shortfall, which I am sure will come up in the comments section of this article. Also shrinking the board from a frat house of 18 to a GE focused 12, preaching honesty (imagine that) and accountability in the new GE.
So far I am digging the new CEO and currently am in tacit agreement with his broad outline.
What was the new CEO given to work with?
I’m glad you asked! GE in my opinion has a very strong set of business’s to work with, below I have outlined the 6 major divisions it currently operates.
Power- GE’s power business is huge, with an installed base in every major country in the world. They claim to produce 1/3rd of the worlds electricity through gas, steam and nuclear turbines. This is a core division for GE, and one that recently has helped drive them directly into a ditch, as overcapacity, technical issues and in my view an ill timed Alstrom acquisition weigh on earnings at the division.
However, GE power does have many redeeming qualities. They are a technology leader in the industry whilst having deep relationships with customers in a field that honestly does not have all that many options. Near term however, look for deep cuts in expectations at the unit until the smoke clears.
Aviation- The companies Aviation segment has been a bright spot in recent results, with continued wins and new product introductions, for example LEAP, its new narrow body engine that from what I can find is truly state of the art, with a 15% fuel improvement, increased reliability, weighs 500 lbs less and is 3D printed (which, lets face it, is just cool!)
This division looks set to continue to preform well in the near term and may be looked at as an example for the rest of the company.
Transportation- The transportation segment is mostly composed of GE’s rail assets and is thought to perhaps be on the chopping block for divestiture. They build locomotives with a large portion of revenue coming from the services side of the business, which is something I like to see. They are a global leader in the industry and the mix of technology and services is impressive.
However the division has been lackluster of late and the strategic fit is questionable and thus may not make sense for them to keep. They did just win a 200 locomotive order from Canadian National Railway (CNI) but it may be prudent to offload this asset to focus on core business.
I sort of hate to see this business go, as it truly is world class. However GE hopefully will use proceeds here to either reduce debt or shore up the oft cited pension shortfall.
Healthcare- GE has a broad and diverse set of healthcare assets, providing imaging, healthcare cloud, cardiology, orthopedics and anesthesia equipment, among multiple other products and services.
This has been a strong performer for the company and what I would consider another core holding of GE, this division looks to be a good fit with its digital offerings and will likely continue to buoy the company during this current slump.
BHGE- This is a division that really makes me mad, and I struggle to remain calm in my writing. Jeff Immelts timing was so bad that it feels like it was on purpose. Immelt decided to buy a bunch of oil services companies, seemingly at the absolute top of the oil market. Grrr.
Anyways, GE Baker Hughes as it is now called is the 2nd largest oil services company in the world and to be fair is actually a very good company, and is a technology leader in the industry along side Halliburton (HAL). So basically it is the second prettiest girl in a leper colony.
Oil services, seem in my opinion to be stuck in a pretty serious long term rut and GE, I believe will look to dispose of this asset likely through a spin off off or divestiture of its stake rather quickly. Perhaps GE could offer Immelt a stake in this spin off in return for the GE stock he so graciously awarded himself during his charade.
Renewables- The renewables division is home to a world class wind energy turbine manufacturer, along with in my opinion is the most valuable part, its services segment. GE has established itself as the worlds number 2 wind turbine company behind Vestas Wind Energy (OTCPK:VWDRY). The company also has an emerging offshore wind and hydro power segment that are lacking scale currently, but hold long term promise.
The wind market this year has suffered from intense competitive pressures thus dragging results, however this also looks to be a core division for GE in the future.
So why am I sticking with GE this time – and may be looking to “pop the question” soon?
The companies potential is just so damn pretty! GE lines up well with my vision of the mega trends of the future.
In my mind, a company must both show an ability for growth, while possessing a solid balance sheet with operating discipline from which to build. Under Mr Immelt, GE, in hindsight obviously stood much closer to the crazy side of Mr Barney Stinson’s famed graph below.
Mr Flannery seems to be dead set on adjusting the results of the above graph.
After the dust settles from the recent house fire Mr Flannery has set ablaze, I am envisioning 4 major divisions of GE remaining. Power, Aviation, Healthcare & Renewables.
All 4 remaining divisions fit into my vision- with 3 qualifying in my mind as mega trends. Power, Aviation & Renewables.
Healthcare I view as a great business as well but does not fit as a mega trend in my book with so many unknowns as to the future in the industry.
Power- Power is (obviously) a key need for the future as more and more countries look to move to gas powered plants and away from coal. With the world estimated to need an additional 50% more electricity in the next 20 years, perhaps adding dramatically to that if the electric car revolution is indeed realized.
GE is in great shape position wise in the industry and once the fat has been cut, along with a renewed focus on execution, this division should prove to be a key driver of profits for decades to come.
The below graph shows an estimate of the worlds need for energy into 2035.
Aviation- This division looks to be in the midst of a multi decade run, as the world continues to be more interconnected. Importantly the Asian travel market is in the early innings of what looks to be a spectacular expansion. GE I believe is in the drivers seat in this industry, both in technology and services.
My one worry is the Chinese looking to enter this market with “homegrown technology” which I believe is code for stealing IP and re packaging it. However manufacturing jet engines is an entirely different animal from copying an iPhone and progress on a Chinese engine that is both safe and accepted is likely a few decades off.
Healthcare- This industry as a whole, especially preventative medicine in my view will swell massively in the next few decades. I am going to lose a few followers over this i’m certain but I believe universal healthcare in the United States is pretty much a sure bet sometime in the next 20 years. Which would be good news for GE!
Keeping costs down will likely be a key requirement of any future health system, and with GE’s expertise in imaging for preventative medicine and its emerging analytics and software offerings, it may be able to play an important role in the health systems future, however uncertainties do exist as to the nature of cost controls and the potential for margin compression in all things health related.
Renewables- I am firmly on the alternative energy bandwagon and GE’s positioning in this industry appears very ideal. Wind energy by most measures is already roughly equal in cost per MWh to current fossil fuel plants, this will likely get better with time, and with offshore wind and hydro picking up steam in both efficiency and scale for GE, will open further avenues of growth for this division.
Alternative energy is here to stay, and GE looks to be on a path that requires no subsidies, a major pitfall to solar currently. The downside to wind energy could be the commoditization of wind turbines, however I believe that GE has the technology and service capability to differentiate themselves in this rapidly growing industry for decades to come.
My plan “as of today” is to keep my current position, roughly 2.2% of my equity portfolio in GE for the first half of 2018, to test the waters, if you will, of the new CEO. If I continue to like what I am seeing and the valuation seems fair, which I view it to be currently (a forward PE of 17ish) I may step up to the plate and double my position in the company.
Or maybe I won’t, and I will just run like heck and never come back!
GE: “Hey you, what’s up”
Author’s note: If you enjoyed this article and would like to be notified of my future articles, please hit “follow” next to my name at the top of the article to receive notification of future articles I publish.
Disclosure:I am/we are long VWDRY, GE.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
Technology news site The Informationreported on Thursday that Japanese telecom titan SoftBank will buy at least 14% of the existing shares in ride-hailing giant Uber. The report notes that $6.5 billion of the SoftBank investment will be at a 30% discount against Uber’s current private valuation of $69 billion. The Japanese company is also investing another $1 billion at Uber’s current valuation.
The deal offers possible synergies thanks to SoftBank’s stakes in ride-hailing services in international markets. But the steep discount against Uber’s valuation also reflects just how rough Uber’s year has been. According to Uber shareholders quoted by The Information, one reason for the discount was Uber’s regulatory hurdles globally. (The company has been banned in several markets, among them London, primarily over driver-screening issues.) Another is the unproven status of services like UberPool. (One early Uber stockholder this month described a SoftBank offer at a very similar price as a “low blow.”)
Uber, which is believed to be losing billions of dollars per year, is also facing a rocky path to profitability, particularly given recent stumbles in its self-driving car program. Autonomous cars are ultimately intended to cut costs, but Uber’s development team has been mired in a legal battle with Alphabet’s Waymo.
The SoftBank deal is expected to close in early 2018.
Despite broad public opposition, the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman Ajit Pai in December voted to rescind rules intended to ensure net neutrality. Those rules prevented the prioritization of content by Internet service providers, and their repeal is expected to benefit telecommunications companies such as Comcast and AT&T. (To learn more, read Fortune’s explainer on the subject.)
But the decision may have unintended negative consequences for those major Internet providers. In the wake of the FCC’s move, there appears to be growing interest in ways to access the Internet without requiring the centralized services of corporate ISPs. Enter the community-based Internet service.
The most prominent example—limited in scope but symbolically important—was announced by the tech website Motherboard on the same day as the FCC repeal vote. The site and its privately held parent company, Vice Media, say they will build a community ISP near their Brooklyn headquarters and develop a guide to help other groups build locally-owned Internet services. Vice also appears to be working with a group in Honolulu to build a local system.
But mesh networks are still relatively unproven and may be a hard sell for an average consumer. Another option is the municipal broadband service, which are owned and operated by local governments and essentially mimic the Internet access provided by corporate ISPs. Their pitch: Because they’re locally owned, they are more responsive to customers on issues, including net neutrality. Successful municipal services are already operating in locales such as Chattanooga, Tenn.
It’s no wonder, then, that so many people use corporate ISPs to access the Internet, even as they criticize them. (In a recent survey most Americans opposed the FCC’s rollback, and the tone of the opposition was vociferous ahead of its December vote.) Still, recent attention on net neutrality could encourage people to try alternative Internet access methods. Inverse, the digital magazine for men, reports that NYC Mesh has received a record number of inquiries since the FCC vote, and recent votes in more than a dozen Colorado localities showed overwhelming support for locally-run Internet access. Recent rate hikes by big ISPs are already being linked by some to the net neutrality rollback, which could fuel further interest in alternatives.
That could have serious long-term consequences for popular broadband providers. In just one city that recently voted to move forward with a municipal system—Fort Collins, Colo.—it has been estimated that Comcast could lose up to $23 million per year if faced with local competition. Watch this space.
Why is it so popular? Because if gives you the ability to match on exact keywords while still maintaining flexibility on the entire search term.
Best of all: there’s evidence that the Broad Match Modifier option can improve your return.
In this article, we’ll cover the concept of Broad Match Modifiers and explain how you can use them in your search engine marketing campaigns.
Broad Match Is Too Broad
As you probably know, AdWords offers a number of keyword matching options:
Broad Match – matches on the keyword plus related words, related searches, and misspellings
Exact Match – matches on the exact keyword
Phrase Match – matches on a phrase within the search term
Broad Match Modifier – matches on words within the search term
By default, AdWords will hook you up with Broad Match. That’s a problem.
Why? Because broad match is usually just a little too broad. Your ad will likely appear to people who aren’t in your target market.
When some of those people click your ad (and they will), you’re going to spend money on those clicks. That cost will eat into your ROI.
However, you also don’t want to exclude people in your target market from seeing your ad because they used a slightly different search term than the one you specified.
That’s why it’s a great idea to use a modified version of Broad Match.
What Does Broad Match Modifier Do?
Broad Match Modifier allows you to specify one or more words within your search term that must appear. For the other words, the standard Broad Match rules apply.
Let’s say that you’re selling goth makeup online. You market your ecommerce site on AdWords using the search term “cheap goth makeup.”
If you let that run with a Broad Match only, you’ll end up showing your ad to people who view related searches. One of those related searches is “goth makeup brands uk.”
People who search for goth makeup brands in the UK probably aren’t interested in your business if it’s located in the United States. So you really don’t want to show your ad to people who use that keyword.
Fortunately, you can solve the problem with the use of a Broad Match Modifier. In this case, you specify that the words “cheap” and “goth” must be included in the search term. You leave “makeup” alone because you’re okay with synonyms for that word.
Now, the only way people see your ad is when they search for a term that includes “cheap,” “goth,” and a word related to “makeup.”
There Are Some Caveats
There’s more to the story, though.
For starters, Google will still show your ad to people who use variants of the words you specified for inclusion. In this case, those words are “cheap” and “goth.”
That means if somebody searches for “cheapest goth makeup,” your ad will still appear. But that’s okay because anybody who uses that search phrase is in your target market.
However, if somebody searches for “inexpensive goth makeup,” your ad will not appear.
Why? Because the word “inexpensive” isn’t a variant of “cheap.” It’s a synonym.
You’ll have to set up a separate keyword for “inexpensive goth makeup.”
Keep in mind, though, that you didn’t specify “makeup” as a word for exact match. That means Google will use synonyms for that word.
So if somebody searches for “cheap goth palettes,” your ad could still appear.
How to Set up Broad Match Modifiers
It’s easy to set up Broad Match Modifiers in Google AdWords.
Start by signing in to your account. Click “Keywords” on the left-hand menu.
You’ll see a big plus button in the middle of the screen. Click on that and select your Ad Group.
In the text area box, enter the search phrases you’d like to use. Be sure to put a plus sign in front of the words that are required.
For example, you’d enter “+cheap +goth makeup” if you want the words “cheap” and “goth” (or their close variants) included in the search phrase.
Click “Save” when you’re done.
If you’re already running one or more Broad Match campaigns, you can still apply modifiers to your keywords.
Again, click on “Keywords” on the left. Then, hover over one of the keywords.
Click the pencil icon so you can edit it.
In edit mode, put a plus sign in front of the words that are required in the search phrase.
Finally, click “Save.”
Keep in mind that you’ll have to follow that same routine for any other keywords you want to edit.
Wrapping It Up
Quit wasting your money on Broad Match keywords. Instead modify them so your ad is less likely to appear in front of people who aren’t in your target market. Then, check your analytics to see which combinations are giving you the best return. Focus your ad spend on those keyword options.
As marketers, we live busy lives. We’re under pressure to learn as much as we can as quickly as we can so that we can ride trends and help our brand to reach as many potential customers as possible. The problem is that as marketers we are also busy creatures that spend a lot of time putting out fires.
That’s where podcasts come in. Because they use audio content, rather than written or visual content, you can listen to them on the commute or have them on in the background when you’re at the gym. Perhaps that’s why podcasts are so successful. After all, the numbers speak for themselves. In fact, 21% of Americans listen to podcasts, which is 57 million. That’s the same percentage of people that are Twitter users, and only 13% of the country uses Spotify. Podcasts are huge.
And yet despite that, it’s not always easy to get started. People don’t know which shows to listen to and whether they’re wasting their time by giving a new show a chance. That’s where this list comes in. Here are just ten of the podcasts that marketers should be listening to in 2018.
No list like this is complete without a shout out for Gary Vaynerchuk, the bestselling author, celebrity and thought leader who’s behind #AskGaryVee. The show asks people to submit their questions and then Vaynerchuk answers them with a rotating panel of celebrity guests. If you’re not a huge fan of audio by itself, you can also head over to Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel, where you can see a behind the scenes take on the show for a little extra inspiration.
This show is hosted by Unbounce, a company which knows a thing or two about digital marketing. The product that they offer is designed to improve bounce rates on landing pages, and their podcast is dedicated to the art and science of carrying out state of the art digital marketing campaigns. They also regularly welcome guests on to the show, which allows you, as a marketer, to discover all sorts of new points of view on the industry.
If you’ve ever heard of Social Media Examiner then you should know what to expect here. This podcast is hosted by SME’s Michael Stelzner and is another of those high caliber shows that welcomes all sorts of special guests from different walks of life. As a publication, they focus on sharing the latest news in the social media space, and as a podcast, they focus on discussing and dissecting it.
This weekly podcast has a fairly heavy focus on copywriting, but it also covers topics like SEO, email marketing, digital marketing and much, much more. It takes the form of an interview with some sort of subject matter expert, and that means that no matter what it is that you’re actually learning, you’re sure to be learning from the best.
This is another one of those podcasts which takes a certain amount of kudos from the company which publishes it. The Science of Social Media is the brainchild of Buffer, and it aims to cover all aspects of social media marketing from the basics to the more advanced elements that were previously left to the experts. They welcome expert guests, of course, but the best thing about the podcast is that they have a heavy focus on the metrics that make social media marketing so inherently measurable.
If you’re listening to podcasts over coffee then you could do worse than listening to marketing over coffee, which is more informal than others and which turns that to its advantage by creating the kind of podcast that makes for great background noise whilst simultaneously actually teaching you stuff. The podcast itself is recorded in a coffee shop in Boston and as a listener, you can sense that in the way it’s presented. Just take our word for it and listen to it.
You might have heard of Ferriss thanks to his bestselling book, The Four Hour Work Week. The Tim Ferriss Show is his podcast, and it shares all of the insights that you might have come to expect if you’re familiar with his work. It’s regularly cited as one of the best podcasts period, regardless of genre, and if you’re not listening to it then you’re missing out.
This is yet another podcast that comes to us via a big name publication. This time, it’s VentureBeat’s Stewart Rogers and Travis Wright that are behind the microphone, and while this podcast doesn’t focus specifically on marketing, it does welcome all sorts of interesting guests on to the show while touching on topics that are relevant to marketers all over the world.
This one comes to us via Convince and Convert and it’s earned its place on this list thanks to its position of one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world. Hosted by Jay Bear and Adam Brown, it’s a great way to stay up with the ever-changing marketing landscape whilst simultaneously getting the experts’ take on what those changes mean in practical terms. Definitely one that’s worth a listen.
This Old Marketing Podcast isn’t any old marketing podcast. It’s co-hosted by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose and focuses largely on the power of storytelling, both in digital and offline marketing. It won’t necessarily give you a practical list of things to do, but it will give you food for thought and that’s arguably more important.
By now, you should have seen that there are plenty of podcasts out there and that the next step is to actually go out there and start listening to them. Give a few different podcasts a try and figure out what you like and what you don’t like. With a bit of luck, there’ll be a few on this list that will capture your imagination and start filling you up with inspiration.
That inspiration will only get you so far, though. Be sure to actually act on that inspiration and to put some of the tips that you learn into practice. Only then will you start to see just how powerful podcasts can be. Good luck.
The FDA just approved the first drug, Luxterna, to cure a rare form of genetic blindness by changing DNA. It’s not the first gene therapy ever approved (it’s third), but it is the first time the FDA has ever approved an injected drug that changes the inherited DNA of a person’s cells to effect a cure.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently remarked, regarding gene therapy, “we’re at the early stages of a transformation in medical treatment as a consequence of this new technology. And the benefits are likely to accelerate quickly.”
Earlier this year was the first time a hospitalbiohackeda patient to try to cure a genetic disease. While it takes time for gene therapies to be tested, trialed, and possibly approved by the FDA, genetics startups like Spark, AveXis, Caribou Biosciences, Editas, and Audentes have been on the road a while. MIT estimates over 40 new therapies would be approved by FDA in the near future.
New breed of startup tackles genetics
A new breed of software company is developing for the genetics industry. Just this year, over 50 U.S. genetics and gene therapy startups raised at least $1 million to support genetics-based treatments, including speeding trails, improving accuracy of tests, and providing better platforms. Collectively, this new kind of startup can help drive down the cost of gene therapy discovery for patients.
Here are some of the startups to watch in 2018 that back discoveries in genetics and gene therapy.
Synthego, founded by former SpaceX engineers, aims to be the ‘AutoCad of gene editing.’ This month, it just released its first gene knock out kit, an application it has been developing with major research institutions like Salk Institute and St. Judes.
“A constant challenge for our research is trying to reduce the number of clones we need to screen to find a desired targeted modification. In our tests, the Gene Knockout Kit gave us greater than 80 percent knock-out rates for seven targets,” shares Shondra Miller, Ph.D., Director, Center for Advanced Genome Engineering at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, on Synthego’s web site. The company offers researchers a money-back guarantee you’ll get 50 percent or better editing in any human cell type for research use.
Paul Dabrowski, CEO and co-founder of Synthego, shared with me in email that, “It’s possible to imagine a day when gene therapies are safe, effective, easy and affordable for anyone who needs them. Right now, the first CRISPR gene therapies are in development, but they are not built on a ‘standard stack’ and require a lot of custom work for each indication – these therapies will be coming into the clinic and hopefully get approved the coming couple years, and after that there could be significantly more investment into standard tools.”
Edico, Backed by investors like Dell, Qualcomm and others, San Diego-based Edico is the backend for bioinformatics. Their DRAGEN data platform offers a dedicated processing environment tuned to the massive data analysis needed for gene research. According to the company, “DNA sequencing technology is advancing at an even more rapid pace than the cell phone revolution. By increasing the speed and accuracy for NGS data analysis like whole genome sequencing (WGS), our computing platform makes it easier to discover links between DNA sequence variations and human disease.”
Trace Genomics, founded in 2015 by Diane Wu and Poornima Parameswaran in San Francisco, has been discussed as the 23&Me of dirt. The agtech startup has raised $4 million in one round to test farm soil for its microbiome. An initial screening cost of only $199 allows farmers to have their soil samples analyzed by Trace, which applies machine learning to uncover not just what’s in there, but what it means for crop yield and productivity.
Paradigm Diagnostics of Pheonix, AZ offers a gene-specific cancer test that helps physicians pinpoint the best cancer therapies for their patients based on DNA analysis. It just raised a $7 million Series B.
There are a number of software startups focused on improving cancer treatment with better analysis, like early stage CureMatch, based in San Diego. “Nothing could be more important than precisely identifying DNA code alterations that drive the cancers’ growth and use that information to decide on treatment plan,” Dr. Stephane Richard, CEO, shared with me in email.
Celmatix. Based in New York, Celmatix just earned $4.5 million dollar grant from the New York Economic Development Council for expanding in Manhattan. The company has developed a software-driven testing platform that helps families and physicians make fertility choices faster and more accurately for individuals. “Women can now make potentially life-defining decisions about how to proactively plan for the family they want to build and be more efficient in overcoming fertility difficulties they are experiencing using better, more personal, information than age,” founder Piraye Beim shared earlier this year in TechCrunch.
Genoox, an Israeli startup now based in Palo Alto, is a cloud research platform for sifting massive medical trial data quickly and accurately. Their website says, “Simplify complex sequencing data and make impactful discoveries using the most advanced genetic analysis tools and applications.”
Insilico Medicine, originally a Latvian startup now based in Baltimore,develops custom AI learning platforms that uncover insights based on biology. Their latest product is Chemistry.AI.
23&Me. No list of major gene therapy movers would be complete without 23&Me. At one time blocked by the FDA, 23&Me is now a smash hit with both consumers and pharma companies. Its kit was one of the top 10 sellers on Amazon’s Prime Day this year. Plus, its treasure trove of DNA sample data from millions of customers is just the kind of testing data many of the next generation of gene therapies need.
Founder Anne Wojcicki recently expressed her sense of hope in the future of genetics to the New York Times, “Genetics is like your cholesterol test. So your cholesterol test is going to tell you if you have high cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. But it’s not saying you’re going to die immediately from heart disease or even die at all from heart disease. It’s just saying you have a risk factor. And so genetics is similar. It’s saying you have a risk factor. So the beauty to me of genetics is, it’s always a story of hope.”
?As one of the earliest, and first, female investors in Twitter, I had great hopes for its potential to improve human connectedness and relationships. Today, it’s become clear it’s done the opposite—by becoming a thunderously divisive tool weaponized by the leader of the free world.
Susan Wu (@sw) is an entrepreneur, engineer, and angel investor. Susan is cofounder of a new educational movement focused on empowering children to thrive in the world of the future. She is also part of the founding team of Project Include.
Consider other harm caused by today’s major technology companies: The immense power wielded by Facebook in the 2016 presidential election and its complicity in stoking genocidal violence against the Rohingya people of Myanmar. The pervasive ethical shortcomings surrounding Uber’s business practices, and Airbnb’s sometimes devastating influence on neighborhoods. Not to mention revelations about workplace harassment and discrimination that occur in many corners of Silicon Valley (and beyond).
Our industry hardly needs more evidence that what constitutes success in the digital age urgently needs to be redefined.
Technology has recently played a positive role as well, with the long-awaited revelations of long-standing abuse by men amplified by #metoo, and in galvanizing a movement around longstanding racial inequities with #blacklivesmatter.
It’s crystal clear that Silicon Valley’s chief executives are no longer merely startup founders, product creators, and business executives. They’re societal leaders too, oligarchs shaping the very nature of our identities, communications, and relationships.
In a world where software and algorithms run most every part of our lives—where Google and Facebook control close to 70 percent of all digital advertising, and smartphone penetration is nearing 80 percent—creating innovative software and launching indispensable apps is no longer enough.
As basic social contracts across nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives are being dismantled by a voracious, so-called free market system and gluttonous political administration, citizens each have an even more urgent need to acknowledge our responsibility to one another. Today, racking up a stratospheric market valuation without significant consideration of the product or company’s broader societal impact is reckless and irresponsible.
Urgently, innovators must consider the massive ripple effects of their creations as part of their imperative. Being an innovation leader isn’t just about delivering quarterly shareholder results or hitting product launch dates. Genuine innovation isn’t just about making technological advances, but also about reimagining and understanding structural issues underlying society.
The tech industry can either design for and build positive externalities, or we can inflict many negative ones—job displacement, fracturing of neighborhoods, addictive behaviors, compounding isolation, fortifying tribalism, and widening income equality, to name a few.
As a veteran angel investor, engineer, and technology entrepreneur, I worked to popularize and commercialize the World Wide Web 20 years ago. The hope then was to revolutionize power structures, increase access to opportunity, and construct a level playing field for all. The tomorrow I hoped for has not yet arrived: one grounded in engaged empathy and equality, where humanity and technology are synthesized and integrated in a new force, one that empowers people to thrive as whole human beings.
Achieving this requires a commitment to the belief that true progress and discovery is only possible by addressing the fundamental human needs of many, not just those fortunate to have a voice and a presence at the table. Though stratospheric income inequality may insulate the most privileged from the real-world impact of many of their decisions, there are some global crises that are inescapable, like climate change.
Harnessing the perspectives of women, people of color, and underrepresented communities, including the 80 percent of the world who lives on less than $10 a day, would offer a diversity of lived experiences that could propel genuine, structural innovation this coming decade. Imagine the types of platforms, products, and inventions that can be created when we expand the pool of entrepreneurs to welcome entirely new viewpoints.
Without thoughtful consideration of how technology interacts with structural and systemic issues in society, would-be innovators are inadvertently rehashing history, by moving around the same pieces on the same game board over and over.
Look, for instance, at the most likely probability that men hold well over 90 percent of the asset value of today’s techno-darling bitcoin, the latest example of merely shifting power from one group of privileged men to another.
Perhaps it’s time for an updated version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one that underscores what’s essential not just for individuals to flourish, but for the greater good of society. Startups and management executives universally invoke this theory as an accepted canon for framing the human problems they’re trying to solve.
The problem is that Maslow’s framework pertains to individual, not societal, well-being. The reality is that individual needs cannot be met without the social cohesion of belonging, connectedness, and symbiotic networks. A revised design focused on a thriving civilization would have at its root empathy and ethics, and acknowledge that if inequality continues to grow at its current pace, societal well-being becomes impossible to achieve.
The very idea of what it means to be human is changing—and we who are leaders in technology are aiding and abetting that change. Let’s acknowledge and embrace the magnitude of that power—and our responsibility to put it to good use.
We must never forget that the innovations of today set the standards for the future: how we learn, socialize, enjoy, work, shop, mate, and navigate this tiny rock we call planet Earth. Great leaders in innovation understand that they’re continually earning the right to be leaders, effectively representing the needs of all communities, and empowering all of humanity to live ever better lives.
WIRED Opinion publishes pieces written by outside contributors and represents a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here.