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Red Dead Redemption 2 release date, character list, news and rumors

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Red Dead Redemption 2 release date

Red Dead Redemption 2’s release date is approaching faster than a runaway train and we couldn’t be more excited to get our hands on a copy.

The sequel to one of the Xbox 360 and PS3’s best games promises to be a gigantic, gun-toting open-world romp through the Wild West that will pit us against rival gangs, authority figures and the elements of a brutal world.

The game has been revealed with perfect pacing on the part of Rockstar Games, the developers of hits like the Grand Theft Auto series, L.A. Noire and Max Payne, who have released one avalanche of information after another since the game’s debut.

We now know more than ever before about the game before its October 26 release date and have lassoed up all the details below.

Ready to saddle up and ride out on Rockstar’s latest western adventure? Here’s what you need to know before you hit the dusty trail.

[Update: As you might expect, the weapons you’ll find in Red Dead Redemption 2 are every bit as nuanced as the game’s world, and fully customizable, too. We have all the details on the game’s firearms down below.]

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The sequel to the Wild West Rockstar hit, Red Dead Redemption
  • When can I play it? October 26 2018
  • What can I play it on? PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been confirmed so far, with a PC version now highly likely too

Red Dead Redemption 2 trailers

The first trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 which was released shortly after the game’s announcement. It doesn’t reveal much other than that we’re going to be returning to the Wild West. The game locations in the trailer are diverse and beautiful and it looks highly likely that the game will be open world.

The game’s second trailer came on September 28, after Rockstar teased some new information would be coming in a tweet earlier that week. This time around we got to see a bit more about the game, including a glimpse of its new protagonist Arthur Morgan.

Watch the trailer for yourself below and take a gander at all the screenshots we’ve collected as well as see some of the new theories this trailer has dragged up:

The third trailer rode into town on May 2, all guns blazing. We thought we were ready for it thanks to a tip-off from Rockstar’s twitter feed, but it still hit us right in the feels.

This trailer puts us right in the middle of the action and confirms (spoiler) that John Marston, the hero of Red Dead Redemption will feature in the game. There’s only a fleeting glimpse of him, the wounds that will become his distinctive scars still fresh on his face.

We’ll stop now, you just check it out for yourself below:

Rockstar released the first gameplay trailer on August 9 (well, the first part), giving us a closer look at the highly-anticipated sequel in action.

The trailer gives us a look at the new richly-detailed world which Arthur Morgan inhabits, complete with sprawling deserts, mucky swaps, winding mountain road, and bustling cities. We also get to see some of the wildlife which live in these areas, and that you will no doubt hunt down for a bit of money.

As part of the notorious Van Der Linde gang, Arthur is an outlaw. The gang are constantly forced to leave areas, setting up a new camp somewhere. This camp is your base, it’s where gang members eat, sleep, play, games, and do chores. And you’ll have to pull your weight to keep morale high and your your comrades friendly.

It’s not just your camp mates  who are effected by your actions. All your interactions have consequences, allowing you to interact with citizens on a deeper level. But if your moral compass isn’t pointing straight, you could pick up some enemies along the way.

You can check out the gameplay trailer below:

Last but certainly not least, the second gameplay trailer dropped on October 1 2018, just a few weeks shy of the game’s release. In it, we got to see the expanded Dead Eye system that allows Arthur to not only slow down time to take out enemies but see vital weak spots or tag enemies for quick, rapid-fire executions.

In addition to gameplay details, we also got a chance to see some of the seamless transitions between cutscenes and gameplay with Arthur in combat one second before transitioning straight into a dialogue sequence. This cinematic storytelling approach was something Rockstar tackled in Grand Theft Auto V and has taken to a new level in its open-world Western.

Finally the trailer shows us what we’ll be doing when we’re not robbing, shooting, hustling and bandit-ing and, from the looks of things there’ll be plenty to see and do when we’re not on a crime spree. Check it out for yourself below:

Red Dead Redemption 2 release date

We thought we’d have Red Dead Redemption 2 in our stockings come Holiday 2017, but it turns out that may have been a bit preemptive on our part.

Initially a blog post on the publisher’s website from May 2017 said that we’ll have to wait until Spring of 2018 to saddle up for Rockstar Games’ next epic western:

“Red Dead Redemption 2 is now set to launch Spring 2018 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This outlaw epic set across the vast and unforgiving American heartland will be the first Rockstar game created from the ground up for the latest generation of console hardware, and some extra time is necessary to ensure that we can deliver the best experience possible for our fans … We are very sorry for any disappointment this delay causes, but we are firm believers in delivering a game only when it is ready.”

However, Rockstar Games later tweeted to say that the game would instead be released on October 26 2018, which is a few months later than the June 8 release date that leaked earlier this year.

If you’re thinking “we’ve heard all that before” don’t worry too much: Take Two’s CEO, Straus Zelnick, has promised that the game won’t be delayed again. Talking to Mad Money Host, Jim Cramer, Zelnick promised “hand on heart” that Red Dead Redemption 2’s release date is October 26, adding that the entire team is on track.

But what about a PC version? So far, there’s been no official word from Rockstar on a Red Dead Redemption 2 PC outing, with only the console versions so far announced.

However, we saw a similar story with the release of Grand Theft Auto V. A roaring success on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it was several years before it made the jump to the PC, and eventually even crossed console generations with a remastered version of the game turning up on PS4 and Xbox One.

Could it be a similar story for Red Dead 2? It’s looking likely – the LinkedIn profile of a programmer with previous experience at RockStar shows that the employee has been working on the game from a PC standpoint, with the profile verified by several sources. We’d say a PC version is incredibly likely at some point.

What we do know, however, is that the game will launch alongside a companion game guide book. The Red Dead Redemption 2 Complete Official Guide book will also release on October 26, and is published by Piggyback.

Two versions will release (with pre-orders available now from the Rockstar Warehouse) . The standard cheaper, standard version offers a mission and character guide, with walkthroughs, detailed maps and an index among other features. The Collector’s Edition is more expensive, is on “art quality” paper, and includes all of the above plus an exclusive character art gallery.

Red Dead Redemption 2 rumors

PlayStation exclusivity

It seems that there will be some PlayStation exclusive content when Red Dead Redemption 2 is released on the PS4 later this year. After Rockstar announced some of its pre-order bonuses for the game, the PlayStation Store listing stated that players will be able to “play select content first on PlayStation 4” with “details to follow.”

Now, we don’t know what kind of content is under this timed exclusivity – it could be something completely inconsequential – but it could also mean blocking other platforms from accessing maps or weapons for a long time. We’ll be updating as soon as we find out more.

Online mode

The game’s online portion (called Red Dead Online) will, apparently, have three different modes: ‘Revive and Survive’ ‘Battle Royale’ and ‘Money Grab.’ Given the wild popularity of games such as PUBG and Fortnite, it doesn’t seem unlikely that Rockstar would be interested in turning its hand to this kind of gameplay and seizing on the popularity.

‘Revive and Survive’ will set two teams against one another in an all out battle where teams will have to fight to stay alive, risking their own necks to revive team members and keep the game going.

Finally, ‘Money Grab’ will be a heist-style mode where two teams will go head-to-head in order to collect money from a central location and return it safely to their hideout.

The report also says that, like Grand Theft Auto’s online mode, Red Dead Redemption 2 will allow players to explore the game’s open world, with rewards for completing tasks, activities to take part in, and upgradeable tents instead of apartments. It even suggests that there’ll be a companion app launched with social features and a poker minigame (a great way for players to increase their in-game funds without having to sit down and play the game).

New mechanics

The report also states that the game will have new mechanics. There’ll be locations dedicated to procuring new items and gambling, as well as a slum market where it’ll apparently be possible to pick up these items on a discount. All stores will operate according to the game’s day-night cycle – so no going to purchase a new pistol and midnight.

Vehicles will range from minecarts to horse-drawn carriages. It may even be possible to use full-explorable trains to traverse the map.

It’s also being said that the main campaign and online mode will be playable in first-person and the Eagle Eye function will make a return, allowing players to track bounties and detect fish for catching.

Mission branches

According to the report, player actions in main campaign missions will affect the direction in which the story moves. Interacting with certain characters over others or interacting with them in different ways, for example, may result in a different outcome or objectives.

Red Dead Redemption 2 news and features

Interactions are deeper

You’ll now be able to react with citizens in a way you couldn’t before. From calling out to fellow riders to talking your way out of trouble with the sheriff, your actions have consequences. It’s up to you whether you choose to escalate or diffuse volatile situations, but negative actions could result in making enemies.

Camp life is important

Due to the Van Der Linde gang not being the friendliest neighbours, you’ll often be forced out of an area and have to set up camp somewhere new. Camp serves as your gang’s base, it’s where you eat, sleep, play games, and perform chores. You need to pull your weight, fetching food and supplies to keep morale high. You’ll also be able to take part in activities for fellow gang members which improve your relationship with them.

Variety of terrain

With the open world deeper than ever before, there are plenty of different regions for you to explore including sprawling forests, scorching deserts, bustling cities, sheer mountains and mucky swamps. These areas will be inhabited by appropriate wildlife, with alligators roaming the swamps and eagles circling mountain tops.

Weapons are more realistic and unique

Each weapon has a unique characteristic and is valuable in different situations. In a detailed post on Rockstar’s website, we got our first glimpse of the detailed firearms that are going into RDR2 – and boy, does the rabbit hole run deep. According to the text, you’ll be able to customize each weapon down to the material used to craft the weapon and what type of ammunition each gun holds. The game will require you to keep your weapons maintained, but if you use the same weapon long enough you’ll become more efficient and effective with it.

Before heading into combat, you’ll need to stock up on the right weapons – your mobile arsenal will be carried around by your horse but you can only hold so many weapons at one time. Choices include the Cattleman Revolver and Springfield Rifle, as well as the more potent Sawed-off Shotgun and Volcanic Pistol that you’ll need for close quarters combat. For hunting, you’ll want to use the Varmint Rifle to keep hides free from big bullet holes, and the Double-Action Revolver makes a good riding companion due to its quick firing speeds.

Speaking of quick firing speeds, Dead Eye mode is making a comeback and it looks absolutely brutal.

Befriending your horse is beneficial

As you progress, your relationship with your valiant steed will blossom. The stronger the bond, the easier the horse is to control. There are also a wider variety of horses than before, with each horse having a specific purpose (such as racing).

There’s a new protagonist

John Marston is no more. Red Dead Redemption 2 brings players a brand new protagonist called Arthur Morgan and the game will follow this outlaw and the Van der Linde gang as they rob and fight their way across America.

That doesn’t mean that John is entirely absent. From trailer number three we’ve learnt that John is in the game, although how major a player he’s going to be we’re yet to see.

Dutch is back

The main antagonist from Red Dead Redemption showed his face in this game’s second trailer which confirms he’ll be back. Whether or not he’ll be the same antagonistic force is unclear but we think it’s highly unlikely he’s going to be a force for good.

There’s mention of “the sons of Dutch” in the third trailer, and while this is more than likely a reference to the familial nature of the Van Der Linde gang, is there a possibility Arthur Morgan could be Dutch’s progeny?

It’ll have an open world

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sequel to an open world game and it’s being developed by Rockstar so this isn’t exactly surprising information. Though Red Dead Revolver was a more linear affair, it was apparent that Rockstar was moving away from this with its spiritual successor Red Dead Redemption and we imagine this trend will continue.

On the game’s site, Rockstar has called the game world “vast and atmospheric” and the trailer certainly backs up this claim.

The environments shown in the trailer are diverse and stunning and we imagine that as before you’ll be able to traverse them on foot, horseback and perhaps even by rail at your own pace.

It’ll have single and multiplayer

As you’d expect of a Rockstar game, Red Dead Redemption 2’s vast open game world will be the backdrop to a thrilling single-player campaign.

Though the first game followed the story of one man, we’re not sure whether that will be the case with Red Dead Redemption 2. The game’s trailer shows 7 figures on horseback which does suggest there could be multiple stories weaving together here like Rockstar did with Grand Theft Auto 5. We’ll just have to wait to find out if this is the case.

One similarity we do know Red Dead Redemption 2 will have to Grand Theft Auto 5 is its huge online multiplayer world and it could be this element of the game that the 7 cowboys on horseback imagery is referring to.

On the game’s website, Rockstar has stated that the world of the single player campaign will “also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.”

Considering Grand Theft Auto 5’s online world is still growing and thriving 4 years after the game’s initial release this is an exciting prospect. We imagine the cooperative missions that involve heists, races, gangs and money making will transfer neatly over to the Wild West world of Red Dead Redemption 2.

PlayStation 4 players will get early access to some online content

Thanks to a partnership between PlayStation and Rockstar, PlayStation 4 owners will get early access to some of the game’s online content. In a post on the official PlayStation Blog where the announcement was made it wasn’t clear what the online content would be, however it was promised that more details would be revealed soon.

Unlockable weapons in Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand theft Auto Online players are getting some interesting Red Dead Redemption 2 treats in the form of unlockable weapons. An in-game email went out in December with a clue for hunting down the Double Action Revolver.

Once the revolver is acquired, a Headshot Challenge will launch in Freemode which, if completed, will give players a $250,000 in-game prize and the opportunity to unlock the revolver for use in Red Dead Redemption 2 when it’s released in 2018.

Two redditors also found evidence of a new Stone Hatchet weapon in the patch code from GTA Online’s recent nightclub update, as a reward for capturing or killing five chosen in-game targets. Getting 25 kills with the weapon also then unlocks it in Red Dead Redemption 2 – and while the mission isn’t officially live, there is a way of triggering it early,

Art book

There’s a listing for a book called The Art of Red Dead Redemption 2 that has popped up on Amazon (and has been swiftly deleted). The book is being published by Random House and had a slated release of October so looks likely to be an official product and in the listing claimed to be “a peek behind the curtain of Rockstar Games and its intensely guarded approach to the creation of the lush, Old West open-world gameplay”.

Characters

In September 2018, Rockstar revealed character cards which introduced us to a selection of gang members we will be encountering in Red Dead Redemption 2. While there were some familiar faces, such as Dutch Van Der Linde, there were also some brand new characters we haven’t met previously.

We’ve rounded up the posse so you can take a look:

What we want to see from Red Dead Redemption 2

Considering solid facts on the game are pretty thin on the ground, speculation and rumors are understandably rife, with most of the basis for guessing at possible features coming from the game’s two trailers.

It could be a prequel or sequel

Red Dead Redemption 2 will have a brand new protagonist called Arthur Morgan which puts John Marston out of the picture.

It was the appearance of Red Dead Redemption antagonist, Dutch Van der Linde, in the second trailer for this game, however, that made fans think it could very well be a prequel. Dutch looks much younger and more fresh in the trailer which gives this pre-Red Dead Redemption theory credence.

That said, others have pointed out some anachronistic background details from the trailer which throw the prequel nature of the story into question. First up is a telephone which appears in an office scene of the trailer. This phone has a design which would have been in use long after 1890. However, a train which appears later in the trailer is being pointed out as being from a much earlier time than this.

Red Dead Redemption is largely set in 1911, so all of these details taken together suggest that Red Dead Redemption 2 could actually have a very long timeline which begins before John Marston’s Red Dead Redemption and then runs concurrent to it, perhaps starring multiple characters.

However, it could also be a prequel that just doesn’t stretch too far back in time – it’s also being rumored that the game is set only 5 years before the previous game around 1906 which would make a great deal of sense.

Bows and arrows and dual wielding weapons 

In the game’s second trailer we see protagonist Morgan wielding a bow and arrow as well as simultaneously firing two revolvers. This suggests combat mechanics have advanced significantly from the previous game.

Bow and arrows were actually a weapon option in Red Dead Revolver before being nixed in Red Dead Redemption. Since then, fans have been crying out for their return and the trailer certainly seems to show that’s happening.

Out on the water

You couldn’t even swim in Red Dead Redemption but a glimpse of a character out on the open water in a kayak in the trailer for the sequel has people wondering if you’ll be able to travel across water or maybe even swim this time around. It’d certainly make an already sure to be large game world even larger.

More animals than ever 

The game’s second trailers shows in no uncertain terms that bears are back. But this time they’re being joined by crocodiles. This makes the surrounding game world significantly more dangerous and although we like to see as much wildlife as possible, we’re not looking forward to being taken by surprise by a crocodile in a swamp.

Sharing the load

A scene of a character walking alongside a mule loaded up with equipment also has fans wondering if it’ll be possible to share your inventory with your steed. We imagine this would work in a similar manner to sharing your inventory with your companion in games like Skyrim.

Could this be the game’s map?

Earlier this April, a map claiming to be the setting for the next Red Dead leaked on NeoGAF.

The biggest takeaways from the tentative topography was a slight move eastward from the arid plains of Red Dead Redemption, showing more marshy locations, islands, and even a mention of a bayou city called New Bordeaux – possibly a tie-in with the recently released, 2K-published Mafia III?

A source with insider knowledge did confirm to us that the map was legit, adding that the game plans to take place before the events of Red Dead Redemption.

However, it is still a leaked map from the internet, so checked expectations are always a smart move.

Rockstar has revealed that the map of the game will be used as the foundation for building an online multiplayer world similar to that of Grand Theft Auto 5 so the incredible scale and diverse landscape suggested by this map would be suited to an online world.

Keep checking back here for more Red Dead Redemption 2 news and rumors! We’ll report everything as and when it’s revealed.

  • More excited about Rockstar’s other franchise? Here’s everything we know about GTA 6

“I’m a coach, not a therapist!” 9 ways to help people change while staying within your scope.

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Help people change while staying within your scope.

As a health and fitness coach it’s easy to feel frustrated when clients share deep concerns that go beyond eating and exercise. It’s easy to think: “I’m a coach, not a therapist!” However, you’re more therapist-like than you think. And, in this article, we’ll help you turn clients’ emotional pain into meaningful change without going outside your scope of practice.

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Sooner or later, all coaches experience a certain uncomfortable moment.

A client lays some really heavy duty capital-I ‘Issue’ on you.

Perhaps they just started a new job and are completely overwhelmed at work. Maybe they have a not-so-great relationship with their mom, who has always criticized their weight, and that’s why they’re struggling now. Or maybe they disclose something super serious, like trauma or childhood abuse.

Your client looks at you, expectantly, through tear-clouded eyes.

Can you help them?

Suddenly the room seems small. Your mouth goes dry. Your brain blank. You feel those uncomfortable, difficult, do-not-want feelings start to blossom in the depths of your gut. Anxiety. Panic. Dread. You. Have. NO. Idea. What to do.

This is the moment that new coaches fear. The moment your client expects you to stop being their health/fitness/nutrition coach, and start being their therapist.

Of course, you’re not a therapist.

But…

You’re more like a therapist than you want to believe.

“I’m a coach, not a therapist.”

I’ve heard this refrain thousands of times from coaches. No matter their country, culture, or exact profession, all coaches would like to hereby remind us all that they Are. Not. Therapists.

And coaches, I hear you. It’s uncomfortable when someone lays their problems on you. When they ask for help outside your area of training and expertise.

And you’re right. You’re not a therapist.

(Nor should you try to be. Unless you are, of course, an actual therapist.)

But sometimes, you do need to be therapist-like.

Because therapists don’t let the deep, dark, troubling confessions they hear all day affect their inner lives. Even better, they empower the person who is struggling to do something about it. On their own.

You can’t change the fact that your clients are going to share their issues with you. Everyone’s got ‘em. But you can change how you respond to the issues — and use them for good. And that shift is what can turn you into a supercoach.

That’s why, in this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to turn these awkward, uncomfortable moments into an opportunity to do your best work as a coach.
  • A powerful two-step process for navigating serious problems with clients — and techniques to handle them with skill.
  • How to stop letting clients’ “crap” affect you (without firing them or losing your job).
  • What to do when you’re in over your head.

To begin, see uncomfortable moments for what they are.

When clients come to you with their gut-wrenching dilemmas and emotional car crashes, they’re actually coming to you with an opportunity for change.

Psychologists refer to this dark moment of despair as “creative hopelessness”. This is the moment when things suck so badly, your normal coping mechanisms no longer cut it. You’re forced to try something new.

Therapists and counselors are in the business of helping people work through creative hopelessness to create change. And so are you.

As a coach, change is your game, baby. In fact, while less experienced coaches tend to dread these awkward moments, supercoaches love them.

Take my client who had a high-powered law career.

Her job was amazing — according to everyone else. But what I saw as her coach was that her job was making her miserable. She was incredibly stressed. She was binge eating and drinking. She wasn’t sleeping.

One day, she broke down during a session. The truth came out: She could no longer handle her life.

It turns out, she really wanted to be a landscape designer — something her professional-minded family didn’t exactly approve of.  But she needed this deeply uncomfortable moment of creative hopelessness to realize that something had to change. The overeating and constant stress weren’t working for her anymore. It was time to try something new.

Eventually, she realized she needed to ditch the job she hated to open the door to the life she really wanted to live. Suddenly, what other people thought didn’t matter so much. She knew what she needed to do.

And I stuck with her during that tough, messy period, which only strengthened our coaching relationship.

So remember that the messy moments and emotional breakdowns, when handled properly, can actually become breakthroughs.

Turning points for something new and better.

And opportunities to do your best work.

Great coaches have a system for handling “the stuff”.

When faced with clients’ “stuff”, coaches may want to turn and run.

Shake it off! Get back to squats! Turn up the music to drown out the weeping!

(I call this the DRIP method: Deny, Repress, Ignore, and Pretend. Maybe you recognize it from painfully awkward family dinners?)

Or your default response may be to do everything you can to cheer your client up. Help them see the bright side. Even better, solve their problem for them. Start listing off solutions!

Or maybe you’re so put off by this client and their problems that you’re thinking about firing them. Ugh. Why did they make you “go there” with them?

But none of these actions will actually help your client change.

Great coaches — the ones who lean into these raw and difficult moments gracefully and skillfully — have a better process.

You might be surprised how simple it can be to turn a seat-squirmingly uncomfortable conversation into a powerful change moment.

To do that, you’ll want to do two therapist-like things:

1. Identify and help the client notice this “change moment”.

2. Develop an action plan, once you have fully explored the problem.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1.
Identify and help the client notice this “change moment”.

Your goal in this step is to help your client see the opportunity for change, and move toward action. This doesn’t require a lot of special skills. It does require some basic “human skills” that you probably already have.

Here are some techniques to help you facilitate Step 1.

Stay with the discomfort

We often want to run away from uncomfortable moments. Don’t.

Stay present. Stay checked in. Breathe. Let the moments unfold.

Often, simply staying present and aware of yourself and the situation is the bravest and most effective thing you can do.

Say to yourself:

“Man, this is pretty freaking weird / icky / uncomfortable right now.”

And maybe:

“I have no idea what to do here.”

Acknowledge that reality. And stay in it.

Notice and name what you’re feeling, thinking, and experiencing.

Help your client do the same by being present and sticking with them. They don’t know where to go next, and it’s okay if you don’t either in this moment.

Empathize and connect

You may not identify with exactly what your client is saying, thinking, experiencing, or feeling. But you’re both human. Find the common ground.

Empathize and let the client know you’ve heard and seen them without judgment.

Reflect back:

“Wow. That sounds really tough.”

“I can only imagine what you’re dealing with.”

“That really hit you hard, huh?”

Practice using nonverbal signals such as body language that say: “I’m paying attention, and I recognize this is an important moment for you.”

Listen and observe carefully

Gather information. Ask thoughtful questions to better analyze and grasp the situation. Probe for understanding.

Don’t rush to react. Wait, process, and respond thoughtfully.

Listen for the client’s “scripts” and stories — the ways they explain themselves and the events of their lives.

For example:

“I’m a really selfless person. That’s why people take advantage of me. That’s how I wound up taking on too much, and now I’m a ball of stress and anxiety.”

Your client may, in fact, be a selfless person, but it’s unlikely that that personality trait is the only factor at play.

Also observe your own experiences, thoughts, and feelings as you work through this situation. This is a chance to learn more about your own coaching processes and responses.

Simply listen, to help your client talk it out

Right now, what does your client need?

At this stage, clients often just need us to listen, hear them, and empathize.

As a coach, you’ll eventually want to come up with an action plan. (We’ll talk about that in a second.) But let the bad stuff be heard and understood first before you move on.

Why? If your client is able to talk about their concerns openly and get all of their thoughts and feelings out, they’ll feel safe, supported, and reassured that you’ll stick with them through this difficult time.

You see, when you don’t immediately list potential solutions or jump to how you would solve their problem, you’re actually giving your client a vote of confidence.

When you allow them to truly be heard without immediately talking “next steps”, you’re showing your client that they don’t need you to “fix” them. They’re not broken. They’re just going through something tough.

When you give them this space to sit with their problem without judgment or “fix it” suggestions, you’ll find that clients often start solving it on their own before the session is over.

Even if they don’t, you can simply let them know that you recognize what they’ve given you, and you’d like them to start thinking about potential strategies — which don’t have to be put into action yet.

For example:

“That’s definitely a lot to think about, Rick. I can tell that balancing act between crazy-long work hours, spending time with your family, and making time for your health has really been weighing on your mind. Thanks for trusting me with this.

“Tell you what — right now, let’s not worry about fixing anything. I just want to make sure I really get where you’re coming from. I’m going to ask a few questions here to explore this a little more, if that’s OK.

“Then over the next few days, before our next session, let’s both think about where we can go from here.”

Trust your gut

Don’t just think. Feel. Feel what your Spidey sense and instincts tell you. Yes, some instincts may be yelling “Run away!” but other instincts may be helping you gather information.

You know how sometimes you can just tell someone is lying to you? Not based on any one particular thing they said, but that little tingle of intuition?

The same idea applies here. Gather information not just through what you’re told, but also through what you perceive.

Watch for nonverbal cues such as body language and intonation. Observe their behavior holistically. Notice where things seem “off”, or where the scripts and stories don’t add up (or conversely, where it all makes perfect sense).

Step 2.
Develop an action plan, once you’ve fully explored the problem.

Your second objective is to get to action.

Again, don’t rush this. But once you — and the client — are ready, work on creating an action plan to help the client move forward.

This process takes some exploration.

You and your client will want to consider:

  • What things the client has already tried to improve the situation
  • Whether those things have actually, measurably worked
  • What other options may be available to them
  • What next steps you can develop together

Here are some techniques to help you facilitate Step 2.

Look for patterns

Feeling stuck or hopeless often comes from feeling mired in our old patterns — except we’re often not aware that these are patterns.

So, point out where you notice common themes.

For example:

“As I listen to your description of what happened when you went to CrossFit every day for three weeks, then ended up on the couch eating an entire package of Oreos, I’m struck by the fact that this seems like a recurring theme for you. Does it sound like a familiar pattern to you? What elements here seem to repeat themselves?”

Simply bring the client’s awareness to the pattern itself.

Don’t try to change the pattern yet.

Right now, you just want the client to notice and name their own tendencies, and reframe “bad” individual choices as part of a larger context of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.

Name the monster

Feeling stuck or hopeless is often like being in a tug-of-war with a monster. The monster is always stronger, no matter how much we resist.

And you know how the monster in a horror movie is way scarier when you haven’t seen what it looks like yet? The same applies to real-life monsters.

Have clients identify just what their “monster” is. You can ask:

“What bothers you the most about this situation?”

“What feels like the absolute worst part of this?”

“Weird question — if the problem you were dealing with were a monster, what kind of monster would it be? Could you describe it?”

Noticing, naming, and giving voice or form to the monster is simply an imaginative way of developing a hypothesis that can ground your action plan. It identifies, describes, analyzes, and prioritizes what the foundational issue is.

Drill down till you get a good clear picture of the monster.

If you have a right-brain or visual client, have them draw the monster or the problem, or describe it visually, as if it were a thing.

I even had a client who got one of those “ugly” stuffed dolls to symbolize her monster. She named it Plunky.

This is a counter-intuitive step. It feels like you’re “focusing on the negative”. But by asking clients to identify and describe the sharpest pain point, you’re zeroing in on what is truly bothering them.

Interestingly, you’ll often discover that by simply naming the monster out loud, the client’s perspective starts to change.

“The worst part is this need I have to always be perfect. [pause] But having said that, I now realize I could ease up on myself.”

Help them let go

By trying to exert control, the client is pulling against a monster that will always be stronger.

Let’s say the client’s monster is a strict calorie counting habit, and it’s making them stress over every food choice, maybe even bringing up past issues with disordered eating.

Ask the client what would happen if they just let go. What would it be like?

You might say something like:

“This situation you’re describing is sort of like a tug of war with the problem — the monster, if you will. And the monster will always be stronger. You’re exhausted from struggling.

“Let me just float a possibility here. What if you just let go of the rope? So for example, if you stopped focusing on counting calories, what would happen?”

Letting go can happen incrementally.

This is especially a relief to clients who struggle with all-or-nothing thinking.

“Let’s say you don’t have to let go of everything. Is there something very, very small that you could let go of? For example, what about not counting calories for just one meal a day?”

Envision the worst-case scenario

We are often distressed and anxious because we imagine all kinds of awful outcomes, and deep down assume we couldn’t deal with those outcomes. So we try to control things in order to avoid those outcomes.

Get the client’s fears on the table and test whether they could, in fact, survive it.

“Let’s just say for the sake of argument that you stop counting calories. Let’s imagine you never count calories again.

“What is the worst thing that could happen? On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad would that be? What would you face or have to deal with? Could you survive that worst-case scenario?”

Chances are, they’ll realize they could and would survive, even if the worst case scenario played out. This takes power away from the monster they’re fighting.

Being therapist-like doesn’t mean you take crap from clients.

So to recap: When things get weird you show up and empower clients to navigate their way through the tough stuff.

But that doesn’t mean your clients’ problems are your problems.

When coaches complain they’re not therapists, sometimes what they really mean is they’re tired (quite rightly) of carrying clients’ emotional baggage.

But remember: Taking on other people’s baggage isn’t therapist-like. In fact, it’s actually the opposite of being therapist-like.

If therapists absorbed that pain and suffering themselves, they wouldn’t be very good at their jobs. And they probably wouldn’t live past 35.

Don’t take on clients’ pain.

Clients have pain. Pain is an inevitable — and arguably essential — part of life.

Pain is what brings them to coaching. And as we’ve already covered, as a coach, you can guide a client to use their pain to create positive change.

But things go wrong when you take that pain from them.

You “take the pain” when you try to “fix” or change what they’re going through.

When you try to solve their problems for them. When you take on their “stuff” and hold it, rather than being a witness to it, or a companion on the journey.

You take the pain when you feel responsible for their growth, change, and development.

Taking their pain means you make it about you:

“Clients are supposed to check in every week, and mine don’t. That must mean something about my coaching skills.”

“My client isn’t progressing, so I must be a bad coach.”

Or even:

“My client is so unhappy. I need to fix that.”

Creating rules about the universe and taking responsibility for your clients’ emotional wellbeing won’t make you a better coach. Letting clients keep their pain for themselves will.

Don’t take their poop, either.

Clients give you crap when they’re in pain. We’ll call that “poop”.

You can think of poop as not-so-fun-to-deal-with behavior that is caused by pain — or fear of experiencing pain.

Poop can be:

  • Passive-aggressive type resistance: doing nothing
  • Active resistance: negativity, “this sucks”, “I can’t…”, “I already know that…” etc.
  • “Drama”: frequent problems and negative vibes
  • “Baggage”:  unintentionally taking out whatever is going on in their life on you with harsh words or a bad attitude

People with pain and poop aren’t “bad” or “screwed up”.

They’re probably quite normal.

Indeed, many clients are lovely people who give you their pain and poop simply because they don’t know what else to do.

Having pain and poop inside you sucks. Isn’t it nicer to hand it over to someone else? Of course it is!

(And you’re probably also a lovely person who wants to help! So you grab their bag of painful stuff like an avid poop collector. And at the end of the day, you wonder why you smell so bad.)

But if you “take” their pain and poop — if you internalize the pain, if you let them fling poop at you without calling them out on it — you’re going to exhaust yourself.

And you’ll miss the opportunity to alchemize pain and poop into change.

With the right strategies, you can help clients move toward improved pain/poop processing and greater self-sufficiency.

Start by understanding for yourself whose pain and poop is whose. Clients’ “stuff” stays with them.

Once you have it straight in your own head, you can look at the situation (calmly, objectively) with your client and agree it stinks… but ultimately, it’s theirs.

The key to accomplishing this is to make sure that whatever happens next is determined by the client.

Here’s how.

Poke the pain and poop.

If you live in a big city, you know about pigeons. They nest in crevices and dark places. Their poop is corrosive and can destroy building materials.

So city officials often have a simple solution: pigeon spikes. They line comfortable nesting ledges with little spikes that poke pigeons in the bum so they have to keep flying.

The same concept kind of applies to clients.

Don’t let them nest in their dark places. Poke them a little bit. Let them flap and figure out another, better, sunnier place to go. Keep them moving.

When we see a client resisting a habit, struggling, being upset, or asking “What should I do, coach?” our initial reaction will most likely be to “take their pain” from them.

We might rush to make them “feel better” immediately or give them a solution that will help them avoid discomfort. (Or just get ourselves out of the grossness.)

Don’t.

Change comes when the pain of not changing is bigger than the pain of changing. We need pain for growth and development.

Let them work through the pain.

Again, poke a bit. Explore. Be curious. Invite reflection.

Play around the pain and poop a little, but don’t keep it for yourself.

Offer some gentle, caring prodding that helps your client move forward, instead of letting them settle comfortably into the old familiar place of non-growth and stasis.

Watch their reactions, and be flexible. When you change your approach to dealing with poop, you will change their reaction to you. You control the interaction.

Here are some techniques that can help:

Beware the professional pain and poop dispensers.

Now here’s a more cynical point.

Most clients are, again, normal and good people.

They’re just muddling through the best way they know how.

But, a very small proportion are *professional* pain and poop givers.

They are experts at handing off their poop and pain to others. They smell your kind heart and good intentions, and they exploit those. Sometimes, they are skilled manipulators.

But even if they’re not doing it on purpose, at the very least, they just can’t handle their own shiz. Ever. They NEED to give it to someone else.

Signs you might be dealing with a pro pooper include:

  • They don’t ever seem to be doing well, but rather moving from crisis to crisis.
  • They ask you to go outside the scope of your practice (they want you to help them fix their marriage, for example).
  • Every conversation with them feels like TMI-overload. You know more details about their life than some of your closest friends.
  • You feel like you’re being sucked into a breathless black hole every time you see them.
  • When you decline to solve their problems for them, they say or do things that make you feel like a bad person.

You see, regular, run-of-the-mill, non-professional poop can be resolved by using the techniques outlined above. Being there for the client, empathizing with them, exploring their problem, and maybe moving onto a few actions steps will be enough.

But if you’re dealing with a pro pooper?

Nothing is enough.

They won’t stop at one little turd. They’ll fill up bag after bag of crap for you to carry, draining you of every last ounce of empathy, compassion, and hope you’ve got.

Important: You can’t change professional pain and poop givers. You have to change your own response to them.

Don’t absorb any of that pain or poop for yourself by trying to “fix” them. Instead, use two simple strategies to protect yourself and coach them at the same time.

Set boundaries

Remind them what’s outside of your coaching superpowers. And be extremely. Freaking. Clear.

“Well, marriage counseling is outside of my powers, but what I can speak to is building an action plan to help you eat well during this time.”

“We have half an hour here today, and I have a hard stop at 10:30.”

Do this as frequently as necessary. Stand your ground.

Notice how you’re communicating, and call it out

Coaches are often empathetic people who get confused when other people don’t have the same social skills.

You probably know how to ask for what you want, as well as how to respond when you don’t get it. You also can probably gauge whether something is an appropriate “ask” or not. Many pro poopers lack these skills.

And while pro poopers will often ask you to deal with problems that are “out of bounds”, you will probably find that there are one or two things out of the many issues they bring up that you can actually help them with.

So, when a pro pooper is doing what feels like a never-ending monologue about every single thing going on in their life, just get to the point:

“Do you want to do something about the problems you’re having getting enough sleep, or do you want to just keep talking? Either way, you can pay me, but it’s much more useful if we come up with some actions to help you fix this.”

When you directly call out the fact that a pro pooper is resisting reason, and show them clearly what you’re willing (and not willing) to help with, you provide the best possible outcome for both coach and client.

When is it time to call in an actual therapist?

Most coaches really want to help. It can be tempting — oh, so tempting — to go above and beyond the call of coaching duty.

This is where the border of coaching ends and the Land of Inappropriate Heroic Individual Action begins. It’s an OK place to visit occasionally, but stay only briefly, before handing off your client to a qualified tour guide.

How do I know when I’m in over my head?

What can you handle and what is outside your limits?

When is it time to refer out?

Perhaps despite your best efforts at talking your client through the problem, giving them space to come up with solutions on their own, and supporting them through that process, things just aren’t getting better for them.

Maybe they’ve been feeling down in the dumps for a couple of months, and despite trying a few different coping strategies together, they’re starting to wonder if they might be depressed.

Or even after encouraging them to “let go” of calorie counting little by little, they’re exhibiting disordered eating behaviors like intense restriction, bingeing, and overall preoccupation with food.

Maybe their “monster” is anxiety, and they’re having panic attacks regularly. They expressed interest in learning some breathing exercises, but they’re not making a big enough difference.

These are all situations where you’d want to get an actual therapist involved.

And here’s what you may be feeling if the client’s needs are truly outside your scope:

  • Distracted, preoccupied, and consumed by client dilemmas
  • Anxious about or dreading your email
  • Like you are constantly “putting out fires”, “fixing things”, and “dealing with issues”
  • Constantly overwhelmed or like you’re “in over your head.”

If you recognize these signs, it’s time to call someone in your support network, and/or refer your client to a specialist from your roster.

And remember, there’s no shame in not being able to do it all. Everyone gets stumped sometimes, even supercoaches.

Great coaching is a team effort.

Who’s on your team?

As you develop your coaching practice, you should build a support network. Have a group of trusted professionals to whom you can refer clients when appropriate.

This will ensure that you don’t feel obligated to deal with everything, and that your clients will get the help they need.

Here’s a sample “team roster”:

  • Psychologist and/or psychotherapist (especially one who specializes in body image issues and disordered eating, but who can also handle other common mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, etc.)
  • Sports medicine practitioner
  • Massage therapist and/or soft tissue therapist (such as an ART or myofascial release therapist)
  • Physiotherapist
  • Medical nutrition therapist (MNT) or registered dietitian (RD)
  • Chiropractor or osteopath
  • MD as well as women’s or men’s health specialist (depending on your client base)

Think collaboratively.

Some coaches may worry that by referring out to other professionals, they “lose business”. In fact, the opposite is true.

When you get your clients the help they need, they’re more likely to succeed.

They’ll truly feel like you’ve got their back.

And when your clients are well-supported, they’re more able to stick to your coaching plan.

It goes something like this: They feel better. They’re now able to do the work they need to do. They improve. And they think you’re awesome.

Plus, other professionals can refer back to you.

It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

So think collaboratively. Always be on the lookout for well-qualified and like-minded practitioners who have a good track record, and who are willing to work cooperatively.

You can even hold social or educational events where you get together with a few of your professional collaborators, to present a united “dream team” to your clients.

Just remember: You are not alone.

Look for support anywhere and everywhere. And refer clients who need it.

Support yourself first.

You know that saying, “Put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting someone else”? Well, that holds true here too.

Your support team doesn’t just help your clients. Your support team can help you too.

Maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the demands of coaching, and could use some anxiety counseling.

Maybe you’re getting into a weird space with your own eating habits, and could use some help working through disordered eating behaviors.

Maybe your low back is killing you and you can barely tolerate sitting down with clients.

Maybe you just need a trusted colleague who can help you bounce some ideas around.

Coaching is amazing but tough work. You can’t do it alone. Whatever you need to be an awesome coach — get that support before you wind up burned out.

Keep your coaching superpowers in good working order.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. Pay attention to your own discomfort.

How do you typically react when a client comes to you with a personal problem? Do you run for cover? Try to cheer them up? Take on their problem as if it was your own?

What is it that’s making you feel uncomfortable in the situation?

See if you can simply stay with the discomfort. Sit with it a bit. Be there, with the client, without trying to fix, dodge, or gloss over the problem.

The more you become aware of your own patterns and reactions, the better you’ll be able to help your clients move through the change process.

2. Help clients recognize their change-moments.

Uncomfortable, hopeless-feeling moments are a great opportunity for change. Your first step is to help clients recognize the possibility for that change within their challenge.

Practice asking questions that can help unearth an “A-Ha! moment” in your client’s mind. Try out one or two of the strategies listed in this article.

After you’ve thoughtfully explored the problem, then work together with your client to create an action plan.

Take your time. Resist the temptation to rush through the process.

Remember that pain is a necessary part of change.

3. Sniff out the poop.

Do you have a client that keeps bringing you their pain and poop?

What’s your go-to response when this happens?

If you think you might be taking on clients’ pain and poop, review the table above. Could you try swapping out of one your standard responses for one of the more therapist-like techniques?

Try making one or two swaps and see what happens.

4. Build your referral list.

Put together a list of professionals that you can refer clients to when their needs are out of your scope. This can include therapists, specialized counselors and doctors, registered dietitians, and more.

Actively build your list and don’t be afraid to refer.

5. Tune into how you feel.

If you’re feeling burned out, constantly frustrated by clients, or perpetually overwhelmed, you might need some added rest and recovery time for yourself.

Pay attention to what you need. Reach out to someone in your support system if you need to: a coach, mentor, paid professional, or good friend.

Taking care of yourself is necessary in order to care for others. The best coaches don’t try to go it alone.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 33% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need.
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If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

5 Steps to Find the Willpower to Reach Your Goals

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5 Steps to Find the Willpower

“When it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius

Do you want to know my biggest fear?

I’ve just come out of the closet, my parents have rejected me, and I am terrified, really, really terrified, because I’m completely alone, and the pain is unbearable.

But it’s not just the rejection that terrifies me — it’s also what happens after that.

With no one to turn to, I find comfort at the bottom of a bag of chips.

Three months and thirty pounds later I’ve yet to leave the confines of my bedroom. I’m wasting away, haunted by dead dreams, dirty dishes, and empty soda cans. The depression is unbearable. I feel like I’ll never be able to turn things around.

I look in the mirror and don’t recognize this person looking back at me. I’ve resigned myself to a life of sadness, solitude, and self-neglect. It feels as though everything is hopeless and I’ll never to amount to anything in life.

Feelings of depression, lack of confidence, and fear of failure drive me to seek comfort with Aunt Jamima instead of with a new diet plan. This vicious cycle of depression and binge eating leads me to a state of paralysis, and obesity. I’ve completely stopped taking care of myself. I feel like I may as well die because my life is over!

Yikes! Dramatic much?

The secret is, not only is this one of my biggest fears, this actually happened!

Spoiler Alert: Eventually, with therapy, I was able to break out of the depression and drop thirty pounds. Equally important, my parents have grown to love and accept my gayness! But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the five strategies that helped me crawl my way out of the hole and get back to a healthy place, physically and emotionally.

If you’re feeling discouraged and unmotivated to create positive change in your life, these five strategies may help you alleviate your emotional triggers, increase your willpower, and achieve your goals.

Strategy #1: Chunking

Many of us cannot complete the tasks we set out to do because we get overwhelmed thinking of all the work required, which leads to a state of paralysis. Overwhelm is one of my main emotional triggers, and chunking is a great way to alleviate this and follow through with my goals.

Chunking is when you take a large task and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. With chunking you will find you have increased confidence and willpower and are able to complete more tasks with less stress.

We basically have unlimited willpower (it’s true! See tip #3: Perception), but when presented with a momentous task the brain becomes overwhelmed and says, “ENOUGH! I’M DONE! BRING ME CHIPS!”

When my depression was at its height I had many days where I didn’t feel like going to the gym and hitting the weights. When I was in this negative emotional state, I found my mind focusing on the long, tiring workout I had planned ahead while feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up to my peers came creeping in. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

It’s called paralysis by analysis—when you’re overthinking something and you get stuck in a place of inaction. During times like this I feel things are hopeless. I plop my ass down on the couch and prepare for a good long Netflix binge, with a side of chips of course! Then comes the uncomfortable feeling of my potential being wasted and my waistline slipping further and further away.

To get over this state of inaction, I use chunking. I focus on the task at hand and think, “What is the next right move for me in this moment?”

I tell myself that I’ll go to the gym and I’ll do just a five-minute workout. If I want to exercise more after that, I have the option to do so. After the first five minutes is complete, I tell myself I’ll do five more minutes. And repeat.

Eventually the resistance to working out subsides, an hour goes by, and the workout is complete! I’m always in a better mood after I leave the gym, and the emotional triggers that were holding me back oftentimes seem insignificant once my workout is complete and I’ve gotten out of the house.

Strategy #2: Confidence

Confidence is the belief you have in yourself to achieve your goals. After coming out to my parents and feeling alone and abandoned, my confidence was basically non-existent. I needed to get my confidence back if I was going to be successful. Approaching a task with confidence will decrease the willpower required to complete said task, and feelings of self-doubt and insecurity will begin to melt away.

How is it possible to increase confidence, you ask? It’s not as hard as you might think! Start by changing the way you frame your goals.

When I wanted to lose thirty pounds, for example, I felt an extreme lack of confidence pursuing such an ambitious goal. Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt became debilitating. I felt like I was permanently stuck in a place of inaction, never to achieve my goals.

The truth is, the way I was framing my goal was setting me up for failure.

I found success by chunking my goal down into something I felt was easy, manageable, and achievable. I shifted my focus from losing thirty pounds to losing just one pound. One pound is easy to lose, so I felt confident in my ability to achieve this small chunk of my ultimate goal.

I started paying attention to the small wins and milestones. I began tracking my progress with a fitness app on my phone. A Virginia Tech study found that having a visual representation of your progress provides motivation to reach your goals; the easier a goal is to see, the closer it seems.

Tracking your progress is another great way to increase confidence. It also decreases the amount of willpower required to stick to your routine and diet.

With my renewed confidence, a strategically planned diet, and training regime, I achieved my goal weight and lost thirty pounds! Once I truly believed in myself, I was able to accomplish something that I thought was impossible.

Strategy #3: Perception

Perception is everything when it comes to maintaining willpower. It will make or break your chances for success.

A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that if you believe you have unlimited willpower, you will in turn have more willpower than the average person.

This means that when you believe you have a finite supply of willpower, you’re right! When you believe you have an infinite supply of willpower, you’re right about that too!

You create your own reality. The beliefs you hold dictate the world around you. The limitations you put on yourself are the limitations that also hold you back. Create a new narrative for yourself, one in which you are empowered to achieve your goals, and you will transform limitations into strengths.

Remember back when my depression was at its height and I gained thirty pounds in three months? l had lost all respect for myself and my body. I stopped believing I could achieve my goals. Feelings of hopelessness took over. I was sinking deeper and deeper into an intense and painful depression.

Eventually, I began to realize how my perception was limiting my ability to lose weight. If I didn’t believe in myself, how could I expect to achieve anything? Through meditation, and with a lot of support from some amazing friends, I was able to shift my perception from hopeless to hopeful!

With this shift in perspective, and a newfound love for myself, I began to take care of my body properly. The weight began to melt off and I became the success story you see today.

Strategy #4: Identity

Identity shapes the way we view ourselves and what we believe we are capable of, and it dictates our response to emotional triggers.

Are you a smoker? Do you love to jog? Are you a fat, lazy slob who will never amount to anything? These are all examples of the identities we create that can hold us back or lead us to success.

We constantly use our identity to quickly recognize the things we are good at and things we suck at. Did you ever stop to think about how this identity is based out of past experiences—many of which do not even hold true today? These beliefs will hold you back from reaching your full potential if you let them.

When I gained thirty pounds I had allowed myself to take on the identity of victim, and as a result I became disempowered to change my situation. Eventually I learned to shift my identity from disempowered to empowered, by changing the stories I was telling myself.

No longer was I a victim of circumstance. I accepted full responsibility for my situation and let go of the victim identity. Once I chose to stop playing the victim, I directed my energy toward creating the life I’ve dreamed of.

By shifting my identity so that it was aligned with my life goals, I changed the narrative and opened the door for real change in my life. I also decreased the willpower required to achieve my goals and began my journey on the path to success.

So I know you’re thinking, “How the hell do I change my identity!?”

You can start by changing the stories you tell yourself. Flip the script!

I’m reminded of a time when I was trying to quit smoking (for the tenth time). When I had a bad craving I would tell myself things like “I’m not allowed to smoke.” The language I was using—“I’m not allowed”—is of someone who identifies as a smoker. By speaking that way I was creating a sense of deprivation and giving away my power to the identity of being a smoker.

I found that by changing the story from “I am not allowed to smoke” to “I do not smoke” I decreased feelings of deprivation. It also empowered me to create a new identity of someone who does not smoke.

With this new identity, I decreased the amount of willpower required to quit smoking. I became empowered to make the changes necessary to achieve my goal, and I was able to successfully stop smoking with a slight shift of identity. I felt so proud of myself for this one too!

Strategy #5: High-Level Thinking

We essentially have two types of thinking: high-level and low-level.

Low-level thoughts focus on how to complete a task, short-term goals, and execution of plans.

“How am I going to workout today?” is an example of a low level thought.

High-level thoughts focus on why you want to complete a task, and are charged with a sense of meaning and purpose. They help us to find that extra bit of willpower we need to carry us through tough times.

“Why do I want to workout today?” is an example of a high-level thought.

The high-level thought shown above focuses on the motivation behind the goal. It re-enforces the belief that working out is what’s best for me. Thinking in this way reduces the resistance to the task at hand and reduces the amount of willpower required to accomplish goals.

A study by Professor Fujita in 2006 concluded that people who often engage in higher-level thinking have a higher amount of willpower than those who regularly engage in lower-level thinking.

When I was in a full-blown depression I found low-level thoughts were much more common than high-level thoughts. With my focus on logistical things like the endless steps involved in getting in shape, I would feel overwhelm and sink deeper into depression. Just leaving the house to go workout became an arduous task.

Eventually, I changed my focus to why I was going to the gym and connected to my overall goals of being fit and healthy. With less focus on the mundane day-to-day tasks, a lot of the resistance to leaving the house subsided, and I was more frequently able to get my workouts in as planned.

With continued practice I’ve become more mindful of opportunities to choose between high-level and low-level thinking throughout the day. Just this morning I had an insatiable craving for cream in my coffee! I’m currently experimenting with intermittent fasting, and one of my rules is no cream till after 4:00 p.m.

The struggle got real. I was ready to give in and make that coffee creamy and delicious. I didn’t care how wrong it was because it felt so right!

Suddenly, as I was about to pour the cream, I started thinking at a higher level. I realized this cream would stop me from progressing toward my larger goal of being fit and healthy and inspiring others. After thinking at a higher level, the cream became much less tempting and I was able to put the cream down.

Thanks to higher-level thinking, I found the willpower I needed to not break my fast!

Conclusion

These five strategies—chunking, confidence, perception, identity, and high-level thinking—are all tools to add to your tool box to help you alleviate negative emotional triggers, increase willpower, and ensure you reach your goals.

These techniques have helped me through some very tough times, but they will help you with any goal in life that requires persistence and dedication. Implement these tools in your life today and see how much they help you!

Let me know how this works for you—leave a comment in the comments section below!

When big companies are hacked, should they have to disclose it immediately?

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Big companies are hacked

Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway mull the week in digital insecurity on the latest episode of Pivot.

“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

That old truism from the Watergate affair also applies to the scandals plaguing some of the world’s biggest tech companies, says NYU professor Scott Galloway. On the latest episode of Pivot, he and Recode’s Kara Swisher talked about the Google+ hack that the company sat on for months and did not disclose until the Wall Street Journal came knocking.

“This is probably why [Google] didn’t show up for the Senate hearings,” Galloway said. “What if someone had said to them, ‘Are you aware of any hacks?’ Do they perjure themselves, or do they release that data in front of Congress, in front of national TV?”

Swisher said the incident makes the internet bill of rights drafted by Democrats in Congress even more relevant. One of the proposed rights that Rep. Ro Khanna discussed on a recent episode of Recode Decode is the right of consumers to be notified in a timely fashion in the event of a security breach.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it’s not used that much,’” she said of Google+, which the company now plans to shut down. “But 500,000 people … Google not protecting your data, really, is the point. And then not telling you about these breaches to me is again the same problem, that there is not a federal law that requires immediate disclosure of these hacks.”

You can listen to Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway wherever you get your podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast.

Below, we’ve shared a full transcript of Kara and Scott’s latest episode.


Kara Swisher: Hi everyone, this is Pivot from the Vox Media Podcast Network. I’m Kara Swisher, founder of Recode.

Scott Galloway: And I’m Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU. Today, Kara, I’m bringing you Jared Kushner-like “hidden genius,” so get ready.

You’re in Florida today, is that right? How’s the weather? You’re expecting a storm, right?

Yeah. Fortunately, we’re on the east coast so it’s not a big deal. But obviously, our good wishes go out to the folks in the Panhandle.

Absolutely, absolutely. It got a little scarier than we thought. This is part … You know, it was interesting because there was a climate change report that President Trump completely ignored this week, but it seems like this is what it’s been predicting, these kind of massive storms just happening one after the next.

And it’s always the stuff you’re not expecting, right?

Right.

I mean, the last thing got a ton of hype, nothing, and then this just kinda snuck up on us.

Well, it only takes one, Scott, in these storms. I don’t mind if it gets hype and is a letdown.

But in any case, there’s been a lot of storms across the tech and media landscape this week. I hate to make a horrible metaphor thing, but there’s been a lot going on. It’s been another bad week for tech, which is really kind of fascinating that it just … You can’t cut a break on anything, but it doesn’t also deserve a break.

The Google Hack

The first one, obviously, is the Google data breach of Google Plus. It feels like every week these days there’s a story about a data breach; last week Facebook was under fire, and continues to be under fire, and this week it’s Google. So what do you think about this?

Google Plus, half a million people got their data hacked. And by the way, Kara, remember how awesome Google Plus used to be?

No, I do not.

Yeah, neither does anyone else.

Right, right.

That’s my big joke.

Right, okay.

So like most scandal, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Because when you think about 500,000 people, that is literally amateur hour in the world of Facebook; add a couple zeroes and you’re talking about the Facebook hack, so it’s not the hack itself. The strange thing here is that six months ago — it happened six months ago — and this is probably why they didn’t show up for the senate hearings, because …

Oh really? Yeah, because they didn’t want to talk about it.

Well, think about it: What if someone had said to them, “Are you aware of any hacks?” Do they perjure themselves, or do they release that data in front of Congress, in front of national TV? So I don’t … And a decent question for you or anyone else in the media that talks to these guys is, the next time they speak to anyone from Google, to ask them, “Are there any hacks you know about that we don’t?”

Right, exactly. You know, people have been sort of making a joke about Google Plus; nobody used it, and by the way, nobody used it. You know, Google’s been trying very hard to get into the social space for many years a couple years ago, and they were essentially creating a social network for antisocial people and by antisocial people. And they weren’t successful.

They tried Orkut first, if you remember Orkut, which was a guy who worked for Google, and it was popular in Brazil for a millisecond, and it may still be. And then Google Plus, which was run by someone named Vic Gundotra, and again it didn’t work at all and it couldn’t keep up with Facebook; they sort of had Facebook envy. And then nobody used it because it was just a terrible social network. It had circles that I never understood. If you recall, it was all these weird circles and different weird things like that, because of Google, I guess, with the Os.

But what was really fascinating about it is everyone’s like, “Oh, it’s not used that much,” but 500,000 people still … Google not protecting your data, really, is the point. And then not telling you about these breaches to me is again the same problem, that there is not a federal law that requires immediate disclosure of these hacks, which I think was among the Internet Bill of Rights that I wrote about last week in the Times. That they have to immediately disclose these things, they have to be required by law to do so.

And it looks as if we’re headed that way, right? What’s your sense of this regulation in California? What have you heard? I read somewhere that Representative Khanna actually showed you a draft of the legislation.

He did, he did. It’s not legislation, it’s an Internet Bill of Rights, and then you make and craft your legislation out of it. You know, there’s all kinds of … It’s a whole grab bag of things from net neutrality to privacy to data protection to … All kinds of things.

And one of the Bill of Rights, I think it was number seven or eight, was the idea that you have to immediately disclose these hacks. And that could be legislation by itself; it’s not gonna be one big giant legislative mass, it’s going to be a series of them.

And I talked to Nancy Pelosi, who would be the Speaker of the House if the Democrats won … But of course, they may not have the Senate, so this may go nowhere. But she was talking about the fact that they were going to craft some sort of legislation.

Until then, California and Europe are the places where this is happening. California’s been super aggressive and has passed a privacy bill, it’s passed a diversity on boards bill, net neutrality. So this is gonna be a really interesting time to see what states are gonna probably put into place things to control these companies.

Do you worry, Kara, that inadvertently this legislation or this type of regulation might in fact end up emboldening or empowering the companies it’s meant to curb? That really it hurts the middle guy?

Yeah, it does.

… the mid-sized company that doesn’t have an estimated budget …

A lawyer.

… of six or eight billion dollars to comply with this stuff?

Yes, I do. That’s one of the big things. That’s one of the arguments of the big companies: “Don’t do it because we have lawyers.” I don’t know if that’s the … You know, I think it’s gotta be crafted in such a way to protect smaller companies. And that’s definitely the case, they don’t have the ability. Like at GD[PR] … you know, all the stuff in Europe. It’s problematic for small companies, so it would hinder innovation. And the argument from these big companies is this is gonna hit … You know, China doesn’t have to deal with these things. Well, China’s run by a president for life, so I guess it doesn’t.

Like Facebook?

Yeah, exactly. Oh my God. Scott, you were waiting for that one.

By the way, we’ll have Xi for 20 years because of biology; we’re gonna have the Zuck for 70 years.

You’re right. That’s a fair point.

All right, in any case, they’ve gotta do something about this and there’s gotta be real payment for what’s going on here. It’s going back to the Yahoo thing, the Equifax thing; it’s just, you put your data online at great risk, and these companies are making billions of dollars off you, and they’re not protecting your privacy, and that’s just pretty much the situation going on.

What was also interesting is you see big tech is now actually warming to the idea of federal regulation because of the transaction costs of dealing with a bunch of statewide regulations.

Yeah, yeah. And then they can water it down because, you know, people in Washington. But you know, Mark Warner has issued some very strong statements. We’ll see where it goes.

Facebook Portal

And speaking of privacy, the Facebook Portal this week! Another product that is gonna sort of be like Google Plus to me. Joining the Portal game, which is a word we don’t use anymore … It used to be Yahoo was a portal, and Excite was a portal, and stuff like that, and they’re re-taking this word up, Portal. And now they’re creating this device, and it has Amazon in it. What do you think of this? Are you buying one?

I thought this was fascinating because, you know, “I want a camera in my house controlled by Facebook,” said no one ever. And actually, if you’ve looked at the product feedback, I think the product development folks at Facebook did a great job. My gut here is that it’s a great product. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the automatic framing it does.

I have.

The notion, and it’s a genius notion, of not having a video conference with someone but feeling as if you’re in the room with them. Even little things like syncing music on both ends so you can enjoy music together. I think this is a great product, but here’s the problem: It’s from Mark Zuckerberg.

Yeah.

And the most telling thing about this product is it has a plastic lens cap. There are 150 million iPhones sold every year, no one’s demanded a plastic lens cap on that. There are 15 million cars sold each year and most of them have a camera in the rear license plate; no one’s demanded a plastic lens cap there. But Facebook comes out with something and …

It knows.

… basically the product development people said, “You know what, nobody trusts you. You’ve gotta make it really obvious that people can protect themselves.”

Well, Mark has one on his camera at work. I took a picture once …

A piece of tape.

Yes, a piece of tape. Yeah, and he has it there. He also has it over the speaker too, so he’s well aware of privacy issues, which is interesting, and I’ve talked to him about it before. Because I have one on my computer, too. I don’t have one on my phone, I probably should.

It’s a really interesting question because I think you’re right, it’s a beautiful product, but there’s a lot of issues. I’ve seen reviews back and forth in that it’s sort of old school where you stay in a kitchen and stay there while you’re talking to people, and that’s not really a use case, necessarily. So I think that’ll matter more than anything else, if people really want to sit in their kitchen and talk to people, or be present.

Telepresence, which has been bandied about by Silicon Valley … Cisco had a telepresence thing, everyone’s tried this idea of the telepresence, and eventually it’s a great idea where it’ll seem like your parents are there, or your cousin, whoever you want to talk to, are right there when you’re talking to them. And that’ll be interesting someday, and this is a step towards it, but I just don’t see … It’s sort of like the Facebook phone, if you recall the Facebook phone; again, nobody wanted it ever. Why do you have to have a Facebook phone versus just a phone that has Facebook on it?

So I think it’s an interesting thing, but it’s not … I can’t imagine it’s going to take off in any way whatsoever. Kind of like the HP iPod. Do you remember that?

I did not know there was a … I know that there was a Zune. I remember the Zune.

The Zune was different. That was a really awful device by Microsoft trying to copy the iPod. But there was an HP version, a branded version, of the iPod. And Carly Fiorina, who was the CEO at the time, touted it as “innovation at HP,” and I was like, “You just colored an iPod red with HP on it.” It was just odd.

So I don’t know. I just don’t think this is a product anybody’s waiting for, and especially right now where we don’t feel like Facebook has our privacy back in any way, that we want any device of theirs in the house. I don’t want the Amazon one in the house; I don’t want the Google one in the house at this point.

Oh, the Amazon one is awesome.

It is awesome. I have it, I have it. I just turn it off all the time.

It’s incredible.

I just turn it off all the time. It is, it is.

A couple really interesting things that’ll happen here, or won’t happen: One is, if this thing gets any traction, then all the barking at the moon that we do, all the headline news about our concerns, are overblown.

It’s not gonna get traction. I’m gonna go out there with that: It’s not gonna get traction.

Fair enough. But if it does, it means all of this privacy concern that we’re upset about hasn’t gained traction in the consumer community.

I think you’re wrong. I think people are very aware of it. Regular people talk to me about it every day; like they understand.

You speak to regular people?

I talk to regular people all the time. They get it.

And the other thing is, what I was really hoping would happen today is I was hoping Amazon would take a page out of Facebook in terms of what they’ve done to Snap and announce the exact same features in the next Amazon Show.

Oh, that would be funny.

Right? Just say, “Okay, we’re learning from you, Facebook.”

But the Echo, it’s in there. Amazon’s Alexa is in there. You’re not buying it, the Portal. Right? Correct?

Oh, no. I hate Facebook. I mean, I’m even … I think anyone that’s suffered … anyone that …

That’s a no. That’s a hard no then.

Other than ruining America, I’m onboard with the company.

Yeah. Okay. Hard no. Hard no.

I hope this is a big thud.

Yeah. Okay. Good. Okay. Good then. Okay. Well, good wishes towards you, Mark Zuckerberg.

Wins of the Week: Taylor Swift and Nikki Haley

Okay. Wins of the week. There’s so many to think about. I am going to go first. I am going to go first on this one, on wins of the week, is Taylor Swift. I love Taylor Swift. I’m not going to pretend I don’t like Taylor Swift. I’m not going to say, “Oh, she’s annoying, but I sometimes …” I love Taylor Swift. Everything about her cracks me up.

And this week, she went, Instagrammed, that millennials should vote. And she was saying she backed the Democratic candidate in Tennessee, where she’s from. And all of a sudden, everyone signed up to vote, which I thought was fantastic. And so I’m really interested in this sort of Kanye-Taylor fight, again because Kanye’s on the Trump side and Taylor now is on the other. So it’s the Tay-ye, whatever, ye, whatever fight. And I really like that she did this.

Yeah. It’s nice.

I like that she used her power for good, in this case.

Have you been to a Taylor Swift concert?

No, I … yes, I have. That’s not true. I have seen her sing when I was in an iHeartRadio thing, and she was absolutely fantastic. She’s a great performer.

Yeah. In a word, awesome. And not only that, it’s a concert you can take your kids to.

Well, my favorite part of the whole concert was when she finished her song, and then she took this long bow, and then they weren’t clapping enough. And she put her hands up. She’s like, “More clapping, please.” And everyone did. They went crazy. And I loved her for that. I thought, “Oh, man. I love this woman. She’s great.”

Yeah, that’s nice. That’s nice.

So it was interesting to use the power of digital to do this. And not many people can do this, but she certainly, obviously, showed that she could.

Yeah. And supposedly voter registration is up, so it’s having an impact.

Yeah. Well, we’ll see where it goes, but it’s interesting that she’s done it. A lot of these celebrities are stepping out politically, much more. Everybody is, in that regard.

What is your win of the week?

Oh, hands down, biggest winner of the week, hands down, and probably of the month, Nikki Haley.

Nikki Haley? Why? Why? Tell me.

Oh, my gosh. She’s getting out of Dodge with her reputation intact. I mean, working in the Trump administration means A) you’re likely going to jail, or B) your reputation is going to be severely tarnished. She comes out, she exits the administration with probably the best brand in politics.

In my opinion, if you were to bet on anybody who will likely be president at some point, it’s probably her.

Why is that? That’s a prediction, along with your win of the week. Why so? Why so?

She’s the perfect blend of kind of gangster strong, communicates leadership, strength, and I think that brand, mixed with the Republican ideology in a cocktail, is a pretty good mix. I think she’s a player and a comer. Yeah, Nikki Haley.

Oh, really? Interesting. Interesting. See, I heard different things back and forth all week, whether she was really good at politics. She did sort of effusively compliment him on the way up, but then someone else who’s here in Washington told me that what she’s going to do then is take potshots from the sidelines. So now she has permission to take sort of … on certain issues around women and other issues that would be strong for her.

I think it gives her permission to run in 2020 if things really come off the rails.

Oh, really? Do you think they will? Are you still on that game? I don’t think so.

Well, they are.

Really? I don’t know.

I think they are.

I don’t know.

Analytical.

These people, they seem to survive.

Anand Giridharadas and the problem with elites

So speaking of being a total kiss-ass, you know what the best thing I read this week was?

What?

The writeup of your interview with Anand — and I’m going to massacre his name — the author, talking about …

Yes, Anand. Yes. Yes. About elites.

Oh, my gosh. I thought that was fantastic.

Thank you.

Just the notion … this guy is my new hero. The notion that we — basically TED and Davos and the Aspen Institute — invite all these “arsonists,” all these people who created these problems because they’re the ones that can fix them. And that these people need … these individuals, mostly tech billionaires, need to be more reflective about not only enjoying questions about what can they do moving forward, but how did we get here and what was their role in that. I thought this guy, he is …

Right. Right. He compared it to a crime scene, which I thought was really fantastic. They want to pretend that a crime didn’t take place, and they wouldn’t …

Yeah. They show up and say, “Well, what’s happened here has happened. Let’s put this behind us and let’s move on. Let’s talk about making sure this doesn’t happen again.”

One of the things that I … what I’m thinking about is that they’re also victim-y. I’ve recently been pretty tough on them, and they’re like, “You’re so mean.” And I’m like, “You’re like a bunch of sore winners.”

It reminds me of the Trump … the Trump people won Kavanaugh, and then they had to be mean. I was like, “Sore winners, once again.” And I think tech people are the same way. They’ve won on every account, and then when you call them to task for a couple things, as Anand did, they get all tetchy. “Well, we’ll take our money and go.” Or, “Don’t you appreciate us?”

”We’re done. We’re done.”

Yeah, which is like, “No. We really don’t appreciate you.” But I agree. It’s a great book. It’s about elites, and it’s well worth listening to the podcast, but it’s also well worth buying the book. And we’ll see where we go from there, if they listen to what he has to say.

That’ll happen.

Yeah. They will. They might.

I’m sure it’s a moment of reflection.

Yeah. They get testy. I am on the receiving end of testy phone calls from tech people all week long for some reason, like, “Oh, you’ve been very grumpy.”

What’s been the worst one? What’s been the … take angry times famous, who wins?

They’re just so whiny. I just don’t … “You’re so mean. Don’t be so hard on us.” And I’m like, “You know what? I’m gonna. I’m just not going to stop, you…” The message they should have gotten is, “We have to fix something.” And the message they’ve gotten is, “Poor little me.” And I’m not clear why that’s the case.

What Anand was talking about is, “Let’s be reflective of our impact and figure out ways that maybe you should listen to people more.” And instead it’s, “Well, we’re trying to help,” that kind of thing. It’s just … what’s the … they’re just all … I just can’t … I’m so now over it. I just can’t even … I just can’t … I can’t … I just hang up. I just hang up. That’s what I do. I just hang up now.

You’re done.

I’m done.

Do you really hang up on those guys?

I’m calling around a lot because of this murder of the Saudi journalist by the Saudis, it looks like. And according to some of the investigation, some of the reporting, this Washington Post columnist, and there’s a lot of money from Saudi Arabia within … from Saudi Arabia in Silicon Valley. It’s like awash in Saudi money.

And I’m trying to get any of them to say anything, and they’re like, “Well, we really can’t say anything.” And I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding.” And now I realize, they don’t care. They don’t care. They just take the money, and that this regime is possibly doing this doesn’t seem … I can’t get anyone to comment, let’s just say. I can’t get anyone to comment.

And what would you have them do?

Comment. “This is terrible. And if they did this, we have to think hard about the investments these people are making.” Something. Anything. Anything that’s human. So anything human would be nice.

A pulse? Something?

A pulse. Anyway, on that horrible note, we’re going to take one more quick break, and we’ll be right back with some predictions.

Predictions: Sniper retail acquisitions and techlash

Welcome back to Pivot with Scott Galloway and myself, Kara Swisher. So predictions, predictions, Scott. You have to have some. We have to have some every week, and you have to be right.

There you go. And by the way, I’ve been remarkably …

You weren’t right about the Facebook stock again, by the way.

Oh, my God. I’ve been remarkably wrong about that. I said that Amazon …

Wrong. All of tech stocks are getting hit.

Yeah. I said Amazon was going to pass Apple. I’ve just been hugely wrong. So my predictions …

All right. Try again.

Yeah. Trying to get back in your good graces. I think that some of these sniper retail concepts are going to be acquired in the short term.

Explain that. Explain that.

Well, there’s a couple trends in retail. One is sort of this Ritalin retail, these Pop-Up Museums, the Frosé Mansion, the Museum of Pizza, which really play on this trend in retail of scarcity. And it’s not that these museums are great. It’s that, one, they offer a giant Instagram moment, and two, you know they’re going away in 90 days, so everybody should go.

Oh, wow.

And I think that’s largely indicative of sort of this Ritalin generation, and where retail needs to head, fast-fashion creating a sense of retail.

The other kind of trend in retail is sniper retail, where you find a category where they’re fat and happy and incumbent, whether it’s Bausch & Lomb, or Labelux with Warby Parker, or the mattress industry, which was literally asleep, so to speak, and you have Casper, and then the luggage industry, which basically had Samsonite, and Tumi, and maybe Rimowa, and went Away. So my prediction is that Casper and/or Away gets acquired in the next three to six months.

That’s interesting. By whom?

There’s already been some reports that Walmart is sniffing around. Walmart has figured out that the way to kind of push back on big tech is to grab the mic back, and one of the best press releases that sort of says, “We get it,” is these acquisitions, whether it’s Jet or Bonobos. And I said that I thought Jet was a ridiculous acquisition at three and a half billion dollars, but the reality was it gave them the opportunity to say that their e-commerce was growing 40 to 60 percent year on year for four quarters in a row.

So if they can pick these things up as maybe … Amazon announced they were getting the mattresses, which means Casper’s value got cut in half the next day, in the same fashion that any industry’s value gets cut anywhere between 10 and 40 percent when Amazon just hints that they’re going into it.

Right.

I think Casper actually is probably a little more open to being acquired right now. I think that would be the smartest thing they could do.

And there’s a couple of … There’s Purple, there’s Casper, there’s a whole bunch of them in this industry.

Thread and Needle.

Thread and — Tuft and Needle.

It’s just incredible.

Tough to name all of them, yeah. They’re all very interesting because I have to say, it is a terrible experience, mattress buying, and they did change it. The question is, can they operate on their own or do they have to be part of a bigger organization?

It’s interesting, because I had dinner recently with the CEO of Walmart, and he’s quite aware of his need to do this. He’s quite aware of the importance and trying to figure out how they can compete, which is kind of odd to think about Walmart being on the back foot on anything, but they are, for sure.

That is an excellent prediction. I like that prediction. I think that’s a really good one.

Yeah, you’re into that?

I like that one.

Thanks so much.

I think you’re right. I think you’re right.

Well, it’s like Eisenhower said, it’s not … plans are worthless, but planning is invaluable. I think predicting … or predictions are worthless, but predicting is a lot of fun.

I have a question for you in a prediction. Which of the big tech companies a year on from now has … looking back, has gotten beaten up the worst?

Oh, Facebook.

Facebook?

Yeah.

Both in terms of usage, not only regulation, but in terms of the actual underlying performance of the company, you think this is starting to seep into the company?

I think so. I think so. I think they’re really … Yeah, I do. I think a lot of people … They’ve shown blood, I guess. Do you know what I mean? They’re still enormous and they’re still growing like crazy, but there’s something off. I think probably Facebook. Yeah.

Google just has now finally been drawn into this and it hadn’t been before, but between China and this breach, they had sort of skulked away from some of the responsibility here and I think they’re … but the two of them, I think.

I think Apple is just fine. It’s just a question of creating great products or continuing to create great products there. They certainly got dinged in this hacking thing, but they fought back pretty hard and so did Amazon against this Bloomberg story about there being an errant chip in there, in the boards that are having to do with their technology.

That was scary.

That was. If true. It’s not … they’ve been pretty adamant that it’s not true, so that’s an interesting thing developing. We’ll see where Apple goes from there on that issue.

Would Apple or Google buy Tesla?

So not a prediction, but a thesis and I want you to respond.

All right.

The lack of self control, the id on steroids, the weak board that is Tesla. Stock gets cut in half from here, which I think makes it, I don’t know, 20 or 30 billion market cap.

Yeah.

Apple steps in and buys it.

I’m surprised somebody hasn’t stepped in.

Apple steps in and buys it.

Yeah.

What do you think?

No.

No.

No.

Why?

I don’t know, I just can’t see those guys … I can see those guys getting in a room and going … I know them pretty well, and being like, “No, we can’t.”

What about Google? Get a jump on self-drive?

Yeah, maybe, but again, it’s who’s gonna do it? Is it Sundar? They’ve got enough stuff going on that it’s sort of who … sure. Sure, Google would be … Apple and Google would be the purchasers, it’s just like, would you take that on right now? It’s a level of exhaustion, talk about execution. It’s a lot. It’s a lot, and the issue is can we do it ourselves, slower but better, kind of stuff? Maybe one of the big carmakers might … that’s a lot of money for them.

They can’t afford it.

Yeah.

They can’t afford it.

That’s a lot of money.

Because they’re valued like car companies, for some reason. Tesla isn’t.

I would question … I would wonder, what does it buy them? Besides a lot … remember when everyone thought everyone was gonna buy Twitter? I kept saying, “No. It’s too much. There’s just too much hair on that dog,” kind of thing. And I think that’s the issue, is the level of … I just don’t see it. I just don’t see it.

But, you know, it’s a good idea. But it’s … it’s also a lot of money. Could they get it that way elsewhere without that and just make Tesla one of these pioneers that either did or didn’t make it? Let it go. What does it buy you?

It’s not a lot of money for Apple. If the stock gets cut in half, it’s at 20 billion, 50 percent premium, that’s a 3 percent dilution.

I can’t think of one person who could run that there, and I can’t see him being comfortably within Apple.

And they’re not that acquisitive.

They’re not at all. They’re very controlled about what they do. They just … I can see them just going … I can see Tim going, “No.” I just see it. You know what I mean? “No. Let’s just focus over here,” kind of thing. And I think they pulled back a little bit in their car stuff.

Google has … Google has let go a lot of really great people who worked there. They’ve let people come and go so I wonder where the commitment to cars … it is but it … you know what I mean? Who’s the driver of the commitment? Larry’s over making hovercrafts. Sergey, who knows where he is? You know what I mean? Sundar has got his hands full, so who? Who’s the person who’s gonna be that person?

Diane Greene’s busy with the Cloud. Susan’s busy over at YouTube. I wonder who would be the executive. That’s all. I think about the people and I can’t think of any of them that would be any good at it. But maybe, who knows? Who knows? It’s just … I don’t know. Someone’s gonna win here, it’s just a question of who it is and it’s gonna be a long time from now.

Kavanaugh and Melania Trump

Anyway, Scott, I think we’ve covered a lot today. Did we miss anything? I think that’s it. I think we covered …

What was your least favorite thing or the thing you hated most about the Kavanaugh hearings?

Melania Trump and her appalling statement about hard evidence. I literally don’t even know what to say.

Just when they were completely appalling, she drops the most appalling thing. I think I … it seems like the Stockholm Syndrome has really taken effect with her rather significantly.

And do you think Ivanka is gonna be the new ambassador to the UN?

No. I do not. I think probably it’s gonna be Dina Powell, if she wants it.

Yeah. Isn’t Ivanka just her father if he drank water and had a bigger wig?

I’m not gonna comment on that. She’s not gonna be the UN ambassador.

By the way, that is a line from my favorite comedian, Michelle Wolf, who is the next ex-Mrs. Galloway, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Okay. All right.

She is my hero.

She is.

She is incredible. Do you know her?

I’ve never met her.

I think she wants to … I think she wants to know me.

Okay. All right.

I have that sense.

We’ll find out.

I saw her in a … don’t try and segue.

I’m gonna stop it. I’m gonna stop this right now, Scott.

I was in Washington Square Park and I saw her with my boys, and I screamed, “You’re a genius,” and she literally ran from me.

Oh really?

Literally ran.

That’s good. That is an excellent response by Michelle.

So that means she has good judgment. She has good judgment.

If I see her, I will tell her to stay away from you.

Funny and good judgment.

I’ll give her a little picture to hold and say, “This guy’s a stalker.” It will be good. It will be good.

Wait. So my least favorite thing about the Kavanaugh hearings?

What?

Can I just tell you?

Yes, go ahead. That’s what you wanted. You didn’t really want to know what I …

No, no, no. I listen to respond, not to learn, Kara. So, Susan Collins and this whole notion of presumption of innocence. Presumption of innocence is this really important construct used in courts of law for a thousand years and it’s used as a means to determine whether people get to join the three million people who are incarcerated. It’s not a construct of a job interview.

Yep. Agree.

My kids’ school is interviewing a headmaster, and the notion that we wouldn’t pick somebody because, let’s say, “Well, we have to assume anything bad about him is not true unless it’s proven,” where did the presumption of innocence come in when we’re trying to find out if someone should wear the most … one of the nine most important robes in the world.

Well, they turned it into a court of law, didn’t they? That’s what they’re doing.

That term should have never been injected into this whole process.

That’s because it’s easy to understand by regular people. Like, oh, guilty and …

Who you speak to.

I do, all the time. Anyway, it was great talking to you. Stay safe in the hurricane.

Thank you, Kara.

Keep yourselves safe.

Thanks very much.

The 32 best indie games on PC and consoles

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Best indie games on PC

Gaming keeps evolving as time marches on, and the best indie games are no exception. One of the most interesting things about indie games in 2018 is that, unlike AAA game publishers, who can’t help themselves from monetizing every inch of their titles, the top indie games simply cost what they cost and don’t try to milk you for every dime – most of the time, at least. Free from corporate influence, the best indie games represent the pure artistic vision of the developers – especially if you have one of the best gaming PCs.

That’s not to say the top indie games can’t keep up with the latest Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, though. In fact, the best indie games regularly surpass the latest AAA games in both quality and scope, thanks to their less repetitive nature – they don’t need to rely on tired tropes and cliches to appeal to a mass market.

In our guide to the top indie games, we went through the hundreds of indie games we’ve played and ranked the 30 best ones here. We mixed in classics, like Braid and Dwarf Fortress, with modern indie darlings, like Hollow Knight and Dead Cells. To discover all the best indie games that made our list, read on.

Linux, Windows or Mac – which one is best for you? Watch our guide video below:

Bill Thomas, Joe Osborne, Kane Fulton and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Described as a sort of combination of Pokémon, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, we couldn’t help but recommend that you keep your eye on Ooblets until it releases at some point in 2018. This indie game is being developed by first-time studio Glumberland with the backing of the beloved Double Fine studios. The art style here curiously reminds us of Adventure Time. However, the game itself revolves around collecting creatures called ooblets in a town called, well, Oob.

Upon doing so, you’ll be able to train and battle your ooblets against other ooblet trainers. At the same time, you’ll have to balance your ooblet training with the real-world responsibilities of being a farmer. That’s right, drawing influence from the likes of Stardew Valley, you can cultivate produce and decorate your house with various trimmings as well. You’ll also be able to join an Ooblet Club comprised of friends (NPCs) you’ll meet along the way.

If you don’t know what to do in Ooblets, simply walk around and discover new shops and buildings that suit your interest. While you’re at it, you can open up your own shop and sell produce that you’ve grown on the farm in addition to items you’ve scavenged from throughout the world. Otherwise, you can feed the leftover crops to your ooblets to watch them level up and learn new techniques to be used in the turn-based RPG-style battles.

Expected: 2018

Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece first appears to be a simple pastiche of Super Mario Bros, with a middle-aged curmudgeon replacing the titular plumber but still seeking to rescue a princess.

But, the longer you spend in the game, the more that’s revealed to you, moving from a series of time-bending puzzles to quiet reflective texts – which doesn’t stop it from being the smartest puzzle game until SpaceChem. Blow himself has subtly hinted that the ultimate story may revolve around the atomic bomb.

First released as PC freeware by Japanese designer Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya back in 2004 after five years of 100% solo development, Cave Story predates the recent indie renaissance by a few years. Because of when and how it was first released, it’s often forgotten in discussions of indie gaming.

But this classic deserves to be on every best-of list for its loving homage to the classic action platforming games of the Super Nintendo era, its incredible music and its incredibly vibrant world. Oh, and don’t forget the hugely intuitive controls, gobs of secrets and weapons that are entirely too fun to use. If you’ve yet to enjoy this one, just put it on your backlog already.

From family-owned and operated Studio MDHR, Cuphead has connected with millions of people around the world, many of whom normally wouldn’t touch a run-and-gun platformer with a ten-foot pole.

Although its gameplay was inspired by classic games like Mega Man and Contra, most gamers would likely compare it to a Fleischer Studios cartoon, like Betty Boop. Because Cpuhead utilizes a hand-drawn art style likened to a 1930s animation, it’s been universally praised for its gorgeous visuals.

Its beauty is more than skin deep, though, Cuphead is a challenging and engaging series of 19 boss fights, with actual levels taking place between them. And, if that’s not enough, Studio MDHR has announced the Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course DLC, with a new isle to explore, new bosses to conquer and, most importantly, a new playable character.

Many AAA games serve as escapist power fantasies, where the player is ultimately able to dominate the game’s universe – right up until the game ends. However, many indie games serve as the opposite – like the IGF award winner and misery simulator Cart Life.

Papers Please is similar to Cart Life – it’s also an IGF winner with elements of misery about it – but it’s better, being a smart, weird sim about the compromised life of a border guard under a totalitarian regime. It’s ugly and desperate, but also innovative, uproariously funny and terribly smart.

Among the hardcore gamers of my acquaintance, Spelunky is the go-to drug. Even today, several years after its release, some of them still play it every day, despite having completed it many times over. That’s because Spelunky, an ostensibly rogue-like platformer with a definite end, is tough, varied and highly randomized.

It also has more dark secrets than a presidential candidate, meaning there are many, many ways to finish it, and its daily challenges are a sure-fire way to public humiliation.

Unfortunately, humor is often missing among games, mostly being restricted to slapstick comedy or crude one-liners. The Stanley Parable, however, is hilarious without being dumbed down. Players follow (or don’t) a very British narrator who changes the world around you, depending on your decisions.

No decision is punished, every play-through throws up new humor and weirdness. Being trapped in the closet in the Stanley Parable is more moving and funny than 9/10 of other games.

  • Further reading: Retro-me-do! Digitiser’s Mr Biffo on his top PC games of all time

It took more than nine years to make, but Owlboy was definitely worth the wait. Originally contrived for PCs and released in late 20166, the clever masterpiece of an indie game is now available to experience on Mac and Linux as well – and there’s even a Nintendo Switch version! Owlboy centers around a race of owl-human hybrid characters called, well, Owls. Of them, you control Otis, an Owl who is censured by his mentor for his inept flying skills.

The story sees Otis’ village dismantled by pirates who clearly have conflict with the Owls. As a result, Otis has to work with an assortment of villagers in-game to take out enemies. Of course, when boss battles arise, you’ll need to manage allies accordingly, as each character comes with their own set of unique skill sets to use in conjunction with one another. If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a Kid Icarus game, this is one for the books. Otherwise, play it anyway.

Similar to The Stanley Parable, Gone Home falls into the unofficially labeled ‘walking simulator’ genre. Where it diverts from the clever and philosophical Stanley Parable, however is its focus on life’s difficult realities, instead of light humor.

After arriving at your childhood home after an overseas visit, you play as 21-year-old Kaitlin Greenbriar who is greeted by a vacant house. While gameplay is basically limited to scavenging through notes to find out where your family is, the gripping story is a extremely emotional and compelling, as long as you keep an open mind. After all this time, Gone Home stands out as one of the best indie games out there.

Only SpaceChem has mingled education with entertainment as successfully as The Kerbal Space Program. The game is simple – design and build spacecraft to take the cutesy Kerbals to the Mun and beyond.

Yet its focused use of real physics means that you’ll find yourself following NASA in building multi-stage rockets, space stations and exploring the Kerbal’s strange universe on EVAs, before bringing your discoveries back to research on the Kerbal planet – that’s if you can get off the ground at all. It’s a huge, complex, challenging and fun game, that’s smart without being preachy.

The exact opposite of the Kerbal Space Program, The Binding of Isaac is an action roguelike par excellence. Matched only by the equally visceral Nuclear Throne for replayability, you play as a young boy attempting to kill his damned siblings, his Mom, and possibly the Devil, using only his tears. Which he shoots from his eyes, of course.

With hundreds of weird modifiers to discover, endlessly touch procedurally-generated levels, and secrets galore, Isaac is a very dark take on the exploratory model established by Spelunky.

Though you might get put off by the pixel art graphics, Undertale isn’t a game that would have fit on the Super Nintendo. That’s because, in Undertale, you decisions make a huge difference in how the game ends and, more importantly, how it continues in New Game Plus.

While playing Undertale, you’ll come to realize just how much freedom the game gives you. Despite its ingenious and intense boss matches, you’ll be able to make it through the entire nine or so hours of Undertale as a complete pacifist. Plus, when you go through the game a second time, you’ll bear the weight of the consequences from your previous run. And, now Undertale is out on the Nintendo Switch, so you can take this masterpiece of game design wherever you go.

From developer Playdead, Inside is comparable to its predecessor, Limbo, in some ways but with an added layer of depth that inspires frequent wonder. This is mostly a result of the unspoken narrative, which revolves around yet another nameless boy. In Inside, however, the boy in the story is running away from a group of men who – if you fail to stay out of their sights – will try to mercilessly kill you.

Though it isn’t quite clear why the boy is running from these men or why you should even care since you don’t know who he is, Inside will leave you begging for answers. The bleak, lifeless setting of Inside is more than worth the price of admission. Its minimalist art style alone is avant-garde enough to feel right at home in a museum. Add in a game that’s both fun to play and dripping with curiosity, though, and Inside is one of the best indie games money can buy.

Developed single-handedly by Eric Barone, Stardew Valley is undoubtedly a technical feat for that little facet alone. If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re already familiar with the premise of Stardew Valley – you may just not know it yet. Stardew Valley is an addictive farming simulator which sees you interact with townees to the point where you can literally marry them.

Stardew Valley isn’t just farming, though – it’s a whole bunch of things at the same time. You can go fishing, you can cook, you can craft stuff – you can even go explore procedurally-generated caves to mine for items and even attack slime-monster-things. However, you should keep in mind that your health and energy are finite, so you’ll want to keep your character rested and fed to avoid suffering from exhaustion. Pass out and you’ll lose a considerable amount of money and items you’ve worked hard to attain. Stardew Valley will have you addicted for hours on end, for better or worse. (Definitely better.)

From Canadian game developer Alec Holowka, the creator of the award-winning Aquaria (also featured on this list) and independent artist/animator Scott Benson, Night in the Woods is an unconventional side-scrolling adventure game centering around a 20-year-old protagonist named Mae who drops out of college to move back in with her parents.

Featuring a story largely based around dialog choices and mini games that put a spin on mundane tasks, like carrying boxes up the stairs and eating perogies, Night in the Woods is a timeless coming-of-age tale. Not only will you experience middle class America through the eyes of a personified cat, but virtually every interaction in-game will have you laughing aloud. And now that it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch on February 1, you’ll be able to take it wherever you go.

If you’re a fan of the recent wave of games inspired by Dark Souls, you’ll absolutely love Hollow Knight. You take control of the Hollow Knight, and lead them through the deceptively adorable landscape to take on bosses and other difficult challenges. Much like Dark Souls, it’s not immediately clear what you’re actually supposed to be doing as the narrative is intentionally obtuse.

The Dark Souls inspirations don’t end there, however. It also adopts Dark Souls’ ‘tough but fair’ philosophy, where the game is only as hard as you make it – you can overcome anything as long as you have patience and learn from your mistakes. Hollow Knight takes these lessons from Dark Souls and injects them into a MetroidVania, with all the side-scrolling and upgrades you could possibly want. You can even play it on the Nintendo Switch now.

If you’re looking for a game that’s as unforgiving as it is fun, look no further than Dead Cells. It takes gameplay inspiration from so many places – from roguelikes, to MetroidVania to even a hint of Dark Souls, to create a unique action game that will test your limits.

Each time you play this game, it will be different. And, while you’ll lose some progress each time you die – and you’ll die a lot – the game will become more and more rewarding as the complex and fluid combat becomes second nature. In the final release of the game, you get access to over 90 weapons, skills and abilities that’ll let you tailor your gameplay however you want.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged when you fail. Get up and try again, Dead Cells will only reward you in the end – which is why it’s one of the best indie games 2018 has to offer.

Introversions was one of the earliest ‘indie’ companies, releasing games like Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia whilst Vlambeer were still in short pants. After years of struggling, they’ve finally hit a huge success with Prison Architect, a game where you build, staff, outfit and manage a maximum security prison.

With smart prisoners who are willing to do anything to escape, you’ll struggle to keep them all inside – or keep them from rioting – and turn a profit. It’s still in alpha, but it’s eminently playable right now..

While something like Kerbal Space Program can actually take you to the moon, To The Moon is a game about wish fulfillment, and thrives on narrative beauty. If we were to make comparisons to films, Kerbal Space Program is Gravity, The Binding of Isaac is Saw and To the Moon is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

You control two doctors who are exploring a dying man’s memories to implant a false memory so he can die in peace. Which is all depicted in a classic 16-bit Zelda style. It’s a rare, emotional, adult game.

Dwarf Fortress is its own genre, its own industry. This is a game that, before you’ve even set foot in it, has to generate the entire geography, mythology and history of its massive world. Then it tracks every single one of the dwarfs you’re managing down to the hairs on their legs and the particular horrible elephant murder that they witnessed and they’re now carving on an ornamental chair.

Your task is to keep the dwarves alive as they carve out their subterranean kingdom – given that insanity, monsters, and starvation plague are thrown at them at every stage that’s not easy. And dwarves, always, always mine too deep.

Run. Jump. Die. Repeat. That’s essentially the gameplay loop of Super Meat Boy, a fiendishly addictive 2D platformer that’s also bloody hard, with an emphasis on bloody. Gallons of blood is spilled as the game’s eponymous meaty hero leaps over deadly drops, spinning saws and walking chainsaws in a bid to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr Foetus. Obviously. Boasting tight controls, plenty of humor and colorful graphics, Super Meat Boy lept onto the PS4 and Vita last year in style – with a Nintendo Switch release coming soon, as well.

It might not be Playdead’s most recent game, but Limbo is timeless. Even five years after its release, the game’s haunting storyline still affects us. You play the Boy, a child with glowing eyes who’s cast into Limbo to find his sister. Making your way through a bleak and dangerous world full of hostile silhouettes, giant spiders and deadly gravitational fields, you’ll need to think quickly and perfectly time your movements if you’re going to survive.

But Limbo is much more than a simple platformer: it’s an experience, and one that has you pondering the very essence of life by the time it’s over. Deep, profound and absorbing, it’s one indie game everybody should take time out to play.

If you’re yearning for a retro-styled multiplayer archery combat game (aren’t we all?), TowerFall: Ascension is the pick of the lot. Fast, frenetic and teeth-gnashingly hard in hardcore mode, the game’s mechanics are simple: fire arrows at enemies or jump on their heads to stay alive until the round ends.

Arrows that don’t hit are embedded in walls, making for tense scenarios when you have to traverse the map while dodging enemies to retrieve them. As such, practicing until you achieve Robin Hood-esque levels of accuracy is recommended. Ascension is best experienced with friends in local multiplayer mode, which recalls Super Smash Bros’ most manic moments.

It’s not often that a platformer manages to balance challenging and engaging gameplay with an emotional and thought-provoking narrative, but Celeste pulls it off. From the developers of Towerfall, Celeste follows the story of Madeline, a young girl who decides to face her mental health issues by climbing to the top of the mysterious Celeste Mountain. Ind doing so, she learns more not only about the mountain, but about herself amid the heartwarming process.

An inevitable classic, Celeste integrates the obvious jump, air-dash and climb controls into a brutal series of platforming challenges in upwards of 700 unique screens. And, if that’s too easy, you’ll unlock B-side chapters along the way, designed for only the bravest of hardcore players. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about waiting an eternity between each respawn. Instead, Celeste brings you back from the grave instantaneously, a welcome departure from the typically extensive load screens.

Admittedly, exclusive indie games always wind up with the short end of the stick. That continues to ring true for Golf Story, an homage to Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color developed by Sidebar Games. As it’s a debut title for the Nintendo Switch, you might have overlooked Golf Story considering it came out on the same day as Stardew Valley, but here’s what you need to know.

You don’t have to obsess over the PGA Tour to get into Golf Story, as you’re likely better off appreciating it for its RPG elements. Substituting combat for an athletic sport, you begin your adventure as a kid who is mentored by his dad before realizing he isn’t very good at golfing, something you’ll have to overcome as you pursue professional golf.

After the raging success that was the original Nidhogg, it’s a shame to see the superior sequel get thrown under the bus. Nevertheless, in spite of its controversial art style, Nidhogg 2 packs a refined, gorgeous look that the first version, a cult-classic, couldn’t even think to compete with. In still frames, we can see how this could get misconstrued, but fortunately, it’s the fun and addictive local multiplayer gameplay that makes Nidhogg, well, Nidhogg. And it’s all there in Nidhogg 2. Plus, every time you respawn, you get one of four unique weapons that only bolster the challenge.

Esteemed indie designer Jon Blow’s follow up to Braid may look like an entirely different adventure, being 3D and all, but the two are more thematically alike than you might think. The Witness, at its core, is another puzzle game that tells an interesting story through said puzzles.

This puzzler takes place in an almost equally impressionist – albeit heavily Myst-inspired – world, but it’s story is far more nuanced and mysterious than Blow’s previous. At almost every corner of this island that you’ve simply woken up on (or beneath), there is a clue as to how you got onto this island and why you’re here.

Don’t get us wrong, we liked Bastion, but we won’t deny that Transistor was SuperGiant Games’ best work to date. Much of that has to do with the convergence of action-based and turn-based RPG elements contained within its cyberpunk futurescape. Likewise, in classic SuperGiant fashion, those mechanics are complemented by a gorgeous art style and a music score so unforgettable it’ll make you want to buy the soundtrack.

Leaving key gameplay beats up to the player, the story isn’t so variable. Transistor’s main character, Red, is a renowned singer in the city of Cloudbank. However, she’s been attacked by a group of vicious robots who call themselves the Process, operated by another group called the Camerata. In her journey, she finds the Transistor, a mysterious sword with the voice of a man. Soon enough, she’ll learn more about him and how he will shake up her world.

It’s weird to think that Oxenfree came out before the first season of Stranger Things, and yet, the two properties coincidentally have a lot in common. The 80s-inspired heavy synth music composed by scntfc, for one, accentuates some truly gripping sci-fi horror centering around – you guessed it – a group of teenagers stuck on an island.

The story involves a handful of uniquely written characters, namely the main character Alex, along with her stoner friend Ren, her newfound stepbrother Jonas, her dead brother Michael’s ex-girlfriend Clarissa and her best friend Nona (who Ren happens to be in love with).

The plot is explained through branching speech dialogue, similar to Life is Strange or modern-day Telltale games, and features five different endings depending on your choices.

Exploring a surreal wilderness seems like quite the trend these days in gaming, and developer Campo Santo’s debut only serves to keep it going strong. Set in the wilderness of 1989 Wyoming, you’re Henry, a fire lookout that’s all alone in the woods after exploring something strange in the distance.

That is, save for your partner on the other line of a walkie-talkie: Delilah. She’s your only point of contact as you explore the wilderness. Will you make it back alive? Will the decisions you make help or harm the relationship with your only lifeline to the outside world, your boss? Don’t worry about those questions just yet – just look at those forestscapes!

Rust is one of the more successful indie titles of recent times. By the end of 2015 it had sold more than 3 million copies, which isn’t too shabby considering it isn’t even finished — the game has been on Steam’s Early Access scheme since launching in December 2013.

Still, it seems people can’t get enough of the Day Z-inspired survival sim. It sees you use your wits and bearings to survive its harsh open world, starting off with nothing but a rock. After gathering resources needed to build a house and weapons to fend off attackers (other online players, in other words), Rust gradually becomes more intense as you defend your growing base — or attempt to breach others’.

Fans of the original Overcooked will not be disappointed by the second installment in the chaotic couch co-op series from British indie game developer Team17.

This time your task is to defeat the ‘Un-Bread’ (zombie baked goods) that have taken over the Onion Kingdom, by battling through brand new recipes including sushi, pizza, and burgers in increasingly chaotic kitchens with up to three other people.

To add to the frantic fun, you must battle obstacles including random fires, collapsing floors, and interfering passers by, all while getting your orders out to the pass in time.

Things get complicated incredibly quickly, and relationships, friendships, and family bonds will be tested as you work together to complete your recipes on time, making it a fun and challenging couch co-op game that will make you truly understand the meaning of “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

The natural progression of survival games, SCUM takes what both predecessors like Rust and PlayerUnknown’s battlegrounds succeeded at and iterates in impressive ways. And, while it’s still in early access, it offers a unique twist – combining the frenetic gameplay of battle royale games with the slow, thoughtful gameplay of a survival sim.

SCUM, unlike other similar games, is extremely heavy on the simulation side of things, however. You shouldn’t expect to run in guns blazing, as you’re going to get tired quickly (just as you would if you tried running outside yourself with a ton of stuff in your backpack). But, if heavy statistic systems is something your into, you’ll find a lot to love here. It’s like spreadsheets with a physics engine.

Just don’t go in expecting a polished experience just yet. However, developer Croteam is promising to add more features over time, and as they’re backed by Devolver, you can trust that the game is going to shape up into something great.

Nutrition for seniors: 7 lifestyle strategies to stay strong, healthy, and independent longer.

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Nutrition for seniors

Forgetting things, feeling incapable, grappling with loneliness, and maybe not enjoying daily life? Aging is inevitable, but these symptoms don’t have to be. Whether you’re noticing them in yourself, or coaching someone who is, here’s what you need to know about the importance of lifestyle and nutrition for seniors — plus 7 effective strategies to live not just longer, but better.

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When my grandfather’s health started to decline, a simple intervention transformed his ability to live independently.

I’ve been coaching nutrition for over 10 years, and teaching university nutrition courses for seven. I’ve seen thousands of people benefit tremendously from the health strategies I share with them.

But no transformation has been as dramatic or inspiring my grandfather’s.

A few years ago, in his early eighties, my grandfather began to forget things. He missed appointments and misplaced objects like his keys or reading glasses. His appetite decreased, and he started losing weight.

One day, he suffered a bad fall. He required hospitalization, and his confusion and disorientation worsened during his stay. It was a low point for my family.

A professional medical assessment determined that it was no longer safe for him to live independently at home. He got placed on a waiting list for a long-term care facility.

My grandpa’s diet had been poor for some time. I knew he was living mostly on canned soup, chocolate milk, and the occasional banana. Not nearly enough calories, and not a lot of nutrient-dense, whole foods.

I wondered what effect that was having on him.

So I did some detective work.

After running some blood tests, we discovered that my grandfather was very deficient in a range of B-vitamins, particularly vitamin B1, or thiamine.

The signs of thiamine deficiency?

Low appetite, fatigue, memory loss, and confusion.

I suspected that correcting these deficiencies might help my grandpa function better, so I put him on a high-quality seniors’ multivitamin, and recommended a few simple changes to his diet.

A week later, my grandfather was transformed.

His appetite increased, and he became clear-thinking and lucid. He was released from the hospital, and his medical team approved his ability to keep living independently.

My grandpa’s experience is proof of something many people aren’t aware of:

Simple nutrition and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve quality of life — even in older adults.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll explain what we know about optimal lifestyle and nutrition for seniors: how these habits affect aging; and how to implement healthy changes for yourself, clients, or loved ones.

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It’s not just the number of years you live; it’s how you live them.

Modern medicine can help us live longer, so what’s the point of eating the right foods and taking the right supplements?

Well,  we don’t want to just live longer. We want to live longer and live well.

Lifespan: 
How long you live

Healthspan: 
How well you live

When we talk about longevity, most of us don’t dream of living for a thousand years in a cryo-chamber hooked up to a bunch of wires that artificially maintain our basic functions.

In addition to a long lifespan, we also want a long healthspan — a high quality of life for as long as possible — a state that allows us to travel and enjoy our retirement, to run around with our grandchildren without aches and pains, and to generally enjoy life feeling good in our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Good nutrition and lifestyle habits are our best tools to improve healthspan.

And while these habits can have a major effect on healthspan if you start them young, making nutrition and lifestyle changes can make a difference even after you’ve noticed signs of aging.

Now, these changes aren’t going to turn you into an ageless bionic superhuman, but they can certainly help you age better and become more resilient.

Which parts of aging are under our control?

From the moment we’re born, our bodies begin to change. These changes continue throughout life.

Yes, change is inevitable…

…but how and when we age is highly influenced by our lifestyle.

Most of us have great bodies at 18 — slim, pain-free, resistant to illness and injury. By 68, we might groan about our soft midsection, our bum knee, or our high blood sugar.

We might call these changes “aging”. But much of what we call “aging” is actually very much an accumulation of lifestyle habits.

The soft midsection, the bum knee, the high blood sugar are often the result of:

  • a chronic sweet tooth;
  • a lifetime of following the “always finish your plate” rule — no matter how big the plate; and
  • lots of sitting, which allowed those knee-supporting muscles to atrophy.

Another 68-year-old who practiced habits like mindful eating, regular movement, strength training, and a nutritious diet might not see those symptoms appear until much later, or perhaps ever.

Let’s take an even deeper look…

Conditions that occur in the elderly

Some health issues occur almost exclusively in advanced age. While many factors contribute to these, lifestyle and nutrition habits can play a role in when, and to what degree, these issues manifest.

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Arthritis

Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints. Although there are many types of arthritis, the two most common forms are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the joint tissues. This results in pain, swelling, and redness.

Osteoarthritis occurs due to the chronic wear and tear of joints, resulting in pain that ranges from minor to debilitating. Risk factors include previous joint injury, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Because inflammation lies at the root of both types of arthritis, consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory omega-3s and antioxidants may help support a healthy immune system response and moderate symptoms.

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Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative condition. Brain cells, or neurons, get damaged, which reduces their ability to communicate. This results in memory problems, mood dysregulation, difficulties with language, and sometimes physical disability.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood, we know that it tends to run in families, which hints at a genetic link.

Some researchers have suggested that Alzheimer’s could be called “Type 3 diabetes” because chronically elevated blood sugar (and insulin) seems to increase inflammation, as well as influence the size/development of the hippocampus (a brain structure essential to learning and memory).

In order to preserve brain health, take care of the body as a whole: Exercise regularly, consume a nutritious diet, manage blood sugar, and reduce or eliminate smoking and / or excessive alcohol consumption.

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Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye gets clouded with clumps of protein or yellow-brown pigment.

Symptoms can include blurry vision, trouble seeing with bright lights, trouble seeing at night, and reduced ability to distinguish colors. In advanced cases, a person with cataracts may have trouble driving, reading, and recognizing faces. If left untreated, cataracts can even result in blindness.

Age increases the risk of cataracts, as does smoking, excessive unprotected sun exposure, heavy alcohol consumption, and diabetes.

Consuming a diet high in antioxidants (which often come from dark green, purple, and orange fruits and vegetables) provides nutrients that keep the eyes healthy.

In older age, good nutrition is more important than ever.

Older age brings with it special nutrition concerns and requirements.

In older age, energy needs decrease but nutrition needs increase.

In general, because of the physical and lifestyle changes that tend to go along with aging, the need for overall calories is decreased.

However, the need for nutrition, in the form of nutrient-dense, well-absorbed foods and targeted supplementation, is more important than ever.

Water

Dehydration risk is higher among older adults. This may be due to side effects from prescription medications, or a reduced sense of thirst (more pronounced in those with Alzheimer’s disease or those who have suffered a stroke).

Dehydration:

  • worsens constipation;
  • increases risk of bladder infection and kidney injury;
  • thickens mucus in lungs, aggravating  asthma or lung conditions; and
  • reduces mental performance and increases fatigue.

Older adults should consume 2-3 liters of liquids per day in the form of water (ideally), herbal teas, broths, or liquid-based foods like smoothies and soups. Adjust amounts as needed according to medication requirements, if applicable.

Use the below chart to assess hydration levels.

Note: Certain medications, B-vitamins can darken or change the color of urine.

Tip: To increase water consumption, leave written reminders around the house, or set a timer to go off every 1-2 hours during the day reminding you to drink water. For those with mobility issues (who have trouble getting up to drink) or tremors (who have trouble holding a glass steady), have caretakers make water easily accessible, and use appropriate drinking containers (e.g. cups with spill proof lids, or straws to help those with diminished strength or shaky hands).

Vitamin & Minerals

Studies show that people with a high intake of antioxidant vitamins (especially from nutrient-dense whole foods) generally have a lower risk of major chronic disease, such as heart attack or stroke.

While most vitamin and mineral needs increase with age due to poor absorption or interactions with medications, some needs decrease.

Vitamin A

Absorption of vitamin A increases with aging, so vitamin A (retinol) should be avoided in supplement form. In older individuals, getting vitamin A through foods is best.

Adults should aim to get about 2,000-2,500 IU of vitamin A per day, from retinol rich food sources like liver, dairy products, and fish. For carotenoids, the plant form of vitamin A, see recommendations below.

Vitamin B12

As we get older, we get less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12, which supports brain and nervous system health. Deficiency is confirmed via blood test. Symptoms include: fatigue, dizziness or loss of balance, and reduced mental function.

Adults need 2.4 mcg of B12 a day from food sources like eggs, dairy products, meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, and B12 fortified foods.

If supplementation is needed (which can be confirmed by a blood test), opt for B12 options that get absorbed directly into the bloodstream, like injections, or drops/lozenges that dissolve under the tongue. To correct a deficiency, supplement with 1,000 mcg a day until normal levels are restored.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is involved in immune system, hormone, bone, and brain health. As we age, our synthesis of vitamin D from sun exposure declines. Especially in northern climates, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. Moderate sun exposure and vitamin D supplements are recommended, as vitamin D does not occur naturally in high amounts in food.

Adults should take between 800 – 4000 IU of vitamin D a day, depending on the degree of deficiency. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it’s only absorbed in the presence of fat, take supplement with food that contains fat.

Carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E

These vitamins have antioxidant properties and are important for keeping tissues healthy and free from disease. In particular, the lens of eye is easily oxidized, leading to macular degeneration and cataracts.

Especially in the case of vitamin E and beta-carotene, avoid supplements, as they have been shown in studies to be ineffective or even harmful, particularly for smokers and those at risk for heart disease. Therefore, it’s best to get these nutrients from food.

Carotenoids are rich in orange and yellow colored plants, like sweet potato, squash, and carrots, as well as dark leafy greens, such as spinach, beet greens, or kale.

Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, nut butters, and wheat germ.

Vitamin C requirements can be easily obtained by consuming a variety of fresh (uncooked) fruits and vegetables every day.

Calcium

We need calcium to regulate heart rate and maintain bone mass, but absorption declines with age.

Men and women aged 50 and older should get 1200 mg of calcium per day. Prioritize calcium intake through whole food sources, such as dairy products, cooked greens, and calcium-fortified foods.

Iron

Iron deficiency can result in low energy, poor concentration, and dizziness. Iron status generally improves later in life, especially in women after menstruation.

However, iron deficiency is still possible, usually due to low food intake, chronic blood loss from ulcers or hemorrhoids, poor absorption, antacid use, or the use of certain medications.

Men and non-menstruating women should aim to get about 8 mg of iron per day, from red meats; organ meats; clams and oysters; beans and lentils; and cooked dark leafy greens.

If iron deficiency is confirmed, supplementation may be required.

Caution: Before taking an iron supplement, confirm via a blood test that iron is low. Iron taken in excess of requirements is toxic. If iron deficiency is confirmed, adults should take 10-30 mg of elemental iron 1-3 times a day, depending on the degree of deficiency.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is common in older people and can depress appetite and blunt sense of taste, making eating less enjoyable. Many medications can worsen zinc deficiency.

Adults should try to get between 8-11 mg of zinc a day, from food sources such as oysters; mussels; meat; pumpkin seeds; and beans, peas, and lentils.

If diet is restricted or if a person is on medications that deplete zinc levels, supplementation may also be appropriate.

Tip: To make things easier, you don’t have to supplement each of these individually. Rather, look for a multivitamin-mineral supplement formulated specifically for seniors, which should exclude vitamin A. Choose liquid formulas if swallowing is difficult or if digestion is impaired.  

For help choosing products, third-party rating sites like Examine and Labdoor provide unbiased, evidence-based suggestions for the most effective supplements and brands.

Protein, Carbohydrates & Fats

Macronutrient needs, and the way our bodies metabolizes macronutrients, change as we get older. The ideal macronutrient balance for someone who is 25 may be different from the ideal balance for someone who is 75.

Protein

As we age, we may develop “anabolic resistance”, which is when protein synthesis decreases. In other words, we need more protein to do the same job.

Healthy older people should aim to get 
at least 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Malnourished or ill seniors should aim to get 
1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or more with severe illness.

For a person who weighs 68kg (150lbs), that translates to about 80-100g of protein, or about 4-5 palm-sized servings of protein per day.

The only caution is in those with kidney problems. In those cases, consult with a doctor, Registered Dietician, or other certified nutrition professional, to determine appropriate amounts.

Choose proteins that are soft and easy to digest, such as stewed meats or poultry, soft cooked fish, well-cooked legumes, scrambled eggs, and good quality protein powders.

Carbohydrates

Good quality carbohydrates help meet energy needs and add fiber to the diet, which prevents constipation.

Aim to get about 25 grams of fiber a day from soft, easy to digest carbohydrates such as well-cooked whole grains and porridges, well-cooked legumes, well-cooked root vegetables, fruits, and powdered fibre supplements.

Fats

Fats play an important role in inflammation regulation.

Reduce or eliminate trans fats (which tend to be high in processed foods), and moderate saturated fats (like animal fats) and lesser quality omega-6 fats (like corn or soybean oil).

Encourage good quality omega-6 (like extra virgin olive oil and avocado) and omega-3 fats (from foods like sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring, anchovies, flax, chia, hemp seeds, and walnuts). Aim for about three servings of fat-rich foods per day, from a mix of quality sources.

Tip: Consume a colorful, balanced, whole foods diet. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods first, but don’t be militant about removing all treats; pleasure is important too!

Let’s take an even deeper look…

Evidence-based supplements* that help

There are lots of bottles and potions on the shelves claiming to reverse age, smooth wrinkles, erase pain, and promote longevity.

Many of these supplements are poorly researched and may be at best, a waste of money, and at worst, harmful to one’s health.

Here’s a list of evidence-based supplements that are particularly useful in the older years:

  • Multivitamin (senior’s formula with low or no vitamin A): Promotes general health; reduces the risk of illness and micronutrient deficiency.
  • Probiotics: Improves digestion and immunity.
  • Fiber: Reduces constipation and helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.
  • Vitamin D: Reduces risk of chronic disease, particularly osteoporosis and cancer.
  • Omega 3: Modulates inflammation and contributes to eye, skin, and brain health.
  • Protein & Creatine: Helps preserve lean tissue (muscle and bone mass); decreases frailty.
  • Digestive enzyme: Aids breakdown of food, easing digestion and enhancing absorption of nutrients.
  • Glucosamine: Preserves and builds healthy joint tissue; may reduce pain in osteoarthritis.

*Please note that supplements quality can vary greatly. Shop at stores you trust with high product turnover, and look for supplements that are free of artificial sweeteners, coloring, flavoring, and ingredients that you don’t recognize. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from knowledgeable health store staff. Additionally, third-party rating sites like Examine and Labdoor provide unbiased, evidence-based suggestions for the most effective supplements and brands.

7 habits that can help you age well.

Luckily, we now have research on the specific factors that can help you live a healthy, enjoyable, meaningful life, longer.

In a variety of large-scale population studies, these seven lifestyle habits are consistently correlated with lower disease rates, better mood and well-being, and increased longevity.

The earlier you start, the better, but these habits can make a difference no matter your current age.

Practice these habits consistently, and transform the experience of aging.

1. Keep moving.

For relatively little cost or time (about 30 minutes a day), exercise is one of the most impactful things we can do for our health.

As we age, our metabolism declines and our bodies don’t use nutrients as well.

Exercise signals the body to:

  • use nutrients and balance blood sugar;
  • build and repair bone and muscle tissue; and
  • circulate blood, nutrients, and oxygen, including to the brain.

Regular exercise is correlated with lower rates of:

  • Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity
  • Arthritis and bone fractures
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Overall mortality

Additionally, exercise improves mood and well-being. This is especially true if exercise is social, like walking with a friend or attending group classes.

Common challenges seniors face with moving

When muscles aren’t used, they atrophy: Moving around becomes harder, making it more likely that a person will continue being sedentary.

Also, embarking on an exercise program might sound intimidating and inaccessible: Whether due to pain, injury, illness, or just a history of being sedentary, it may be difficult or scary to begin an activity program.

Action steps that can help

  • Start with gentle activities. This reduces the risk of injury or heart attack. Opt for low impact activities, such as swimming, recumbent biking, or walking on grass or dirt rather than pavement. Even when mobility is reduced or compromised, exercise can be made accessible and can benefit health tremendously.
  • Find an activity that feels fun. And one that can be done consistently. This can include: gardening or yard work, walking, swimming, climbing stairs, yoga, tai chi, cleaning the house, or doing light weight circuits.
  • Keep things in perspective. Remember that “moderate to vigorous” is a subjective measure. What a 25-year-old personal trainer defines as “moderate to vigorous” may be very different from how an 85-year-old beginner exerciser defines it. The right level of activity should leave the exerciser feeling out of breath, but still able to hold a conversation.
  • Ease into exercise. About 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day is ideal, but benefits appear after only 10 minutes of movement per day! A good program will incorporate some endurance training (like walking fast), some weight bearing activities (like doing bicep curls with soup cans), and some balance training (like practicing standing on one foot, or doing yoga).

2. Eat healthy meals.

The foods we eat literally make up our bodies. If we are missing important nutrients, our bodies are more vulnerable to damage or illness.

Although all nutrients are important, two get are critical during the older years:

  • Protein is especially crucial because it helps to preserve valuable lean tissue (muscle and bone). Higher lean tissue reduces frailty, falls, and fractures, all of which are associated with poorer quality of life and earlier death.
  • Antioxidants are like the body’s defense team. Aging is partly due to an accumulation of daily attacks from free radicals from pollution, household chemicals, too much sun, or lifestyle habits like smoking, eating lots of processed foods, or excessive drinking.

Antioxidants protect our body from free radical damage, and slow down the aging process. With a regular supply of antioxidants through wholesome meals abundant in colorful plant foods, we’re less vulnerable to cataracts, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more.

Aim for five servings of vegetables and fruits a day — and choose a variety of colors! Different colors (red, purple, green, orange, etc.) often relate to different nutrient compounds, so the more colorful the “rainbow” you’re consuming, the more nutrients you’re getting.

Common challenges seniors face with eating healthy

Poor appetite can lower food intake and the enjoyment of food: This may be caused by medication side effects, illness, or nutrient deficiencies. If a person has frequent digestive upset, they may be (understandably) resistant to trying new foods or eating anything that has triggered them in the past.

The individual may have dentures or weak teeth: If dentures are ill-fitting (this can happen after extreme weight gain or loss) or teeth are weak, it can be difficult and painful to chew.

It might be harder to shop for or prepare food: Frequent obstacles include trouble walking, carrying groceries, or holding a knife steady due to shaky hands.

Energy or mood is low: Fatigue, anxiety, or depression can make it challenging to find motivation to prepare meals. Elderly living alone and eating in isolation are especially vulnerable.

Many older individuals no longer have an income: That means the highest quality foods may not be accessible to them.

Certain generations may carry strong ideas about nutrition: For example, some may habitually avoid fats, feel they must “clean the plate”, or believe in dessert after every meal, because that’s how they grew up eating.

Action steps that can help

  • Prioritize consumption of whole foods to increase nutrition. These include fruits and vegetables, legumes, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Focus on soft, well-cooked, or pureed / blended foods. Try scrambled eggs, poached fish, mashed vegetables, avocado, yogurt, smoothies, and soups, which are easier to digest.
  • Try food supplements. Protein powders, green powders, fiber powders, and fish oil can be useful for increasing nutrition.
  • If budget allows, sign up for a grocery or meal delivery service. This can make food preparation much easier.
  • Choose quick and easy to prepare foods when grocery shopping. Opt for pre-made high quality soups, pre-cut fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, or pre-cooked proteins.
  • Don’t forget pleasure. Look for ways to increase enjoyment while eating: Choose foods that appeal; set the table with nice linens, silverware, and flowers; eat slowly and savour food; and allow small treats if desired. A small bowl of hazelnut gelato after dinner a couple times a week makes life just a bit more delicious!

3. Achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

According to research, there is a BMI “sweet spot” for the elderly.

Seniors with a BMI between 25 and 32 have the lowest rates of mortality, and recover better from illness and infection.

Being overweight or underweight can pose a risk.

Too much body fat can be harmful. In particular, visceral fat around our internal organs is associated with higher inflammation, insulin resistance and high blood sugar, eye problems like cataracts or blindness, kidney damage, and cancer.

However, some fat can be protective. Having enough body fat helps a person recover better from wasting diseases like pneumonia, cancer, influenza, and digestive issues. Having some body fat is also correlated with a lowered risk of fracture during a fall.

Common challenges seniors face with finding a healthy weight

Elderly who are underweight may struggle to gain weight: This can be due to low appetite, which can be caused by medication side effects, digestion problems, or zinc deficiency (which reduces sense of taste and can make food taste metallic). Social isolation is also correlated with skipping meals and eating less nutritious meals.

Those who are overweight may struggle to lose weight: Again, medication side effects can contribute to weight gain. Sometimes, seniors are just eating like they did when they were younger — except now, they’re moving less and may have lost metabolically active tissue, like muscle, to use those calories.

The onset of retirement and the “empty nest” stage can change eating habits: More leisure time and less routine may mean eating frequently at restaurants, often accompanied by more alcoholic drinks.

Action steps that can help

If weight gain is needed:

  • Ensure protein requirements are getting met first. This macronutrient offers the biggest “return on investment” in terms of staying healthy and resilient as a senior.
  • Healthy fats are calorically dense and can easily increase calorie intake. Choose fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nut butters, and full-fat dairy products like plain whole milk yogurt or aged hard cheeses.

If weight loss is needed:

  • Practice mindful, slow eating. And instead of counting calories (which can be annoying to do at any age), measure portions using your own hands!
  • Prioritize whole foods. These include fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and appropriate amounts of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.

In all cases:

  • Avoid “diet rules” or forcing certain foods. If kale is unpalatable, take it off the table. If you want to have a cookie every now and then, enjoy that double chocolate chunk!

4. Get the right amount of sleep.

As we age, it’s normal to need less sleep, and to sleep less consistently. As a result, older people may have trouble falling or staying asleep, and/or may wake early.

However, at any age, adequate sleep is essential, and helps:

  • brain regeneration, improving memory and focus;
  • hormone and neurotransmitter regulation, keeping mood and appetite stable;
  • inflammation regulation, keeping the immune system healthy and balanced; and
  • recovery from stress, be it from emotional or physical sources.

In the older years, getting anywhere from 5 to 9 hours of sleep a day may be appropriate.


Sleeping enough helps keep us healthy, but sleeping too much can be a sign of illness.

If sleeping over 9 or 10 hours is becoming the norm, consult a physician. Excessive sleep can be a sign of nutrient deficiency (low iron and B12 can both cause fatigue), depression, infection, or serious illness.

Common challenges seniors face with getting the right amount of sleep

Changing sleep patterns throw people off: Although it’s normal to need less sleep in our older years, it may be difficult to adjust to a new sleep schedule.

Side effects from medication interrupt natural rhythms: Some medications may cause fatigue or wakefulness.

Worries about health, finances, or loved ones can also keep us up: If tossing and turning is chronic, get a full assessment of what’s preventing rest, including what’s weighing on the heart and mind.

Action steps that can help

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Setting up a good night’s sleep doesn’t just happen at night. Turn down the lights and disengage from stimulating activities about an hour before bed. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, and keep it cool (around 67 F / 19 C).
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid napping for more than an hour a day, or napping later in the day.
  • Create a comforting sleep routine. For example, have a bath, read some calming literature, or go for a slow walk outside.
  • Avoid spending time in bed while awake. If you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, leave the bed and do some restful activities, like reading or making a cup of tea; return to bed when you feel sleepy again.

5. Reduce or quit smoking.

To some it may be hard to believe, but many seniors grew up during a time when smoking was promoted as a healthy habit!

However, we now know smoking is undeniably linked to negative health outcomes — primarily lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer; and cardiovascular events like heart attack or stroke.

Smoking dramatically increases our exposure to free radicals, which increase inflammation, damage the arteries, and advance physiological age.

The good news is:

It’s never too late to quit and the body begins to regenerate immediately.

Common challenges seniors face with stopping smoking

Cigarettes are addictive and smoking is hard to quit: If this habit has been maintained for decades, a person may find it hard to imagine their life without smoking.

Older people may wonder, what’s the point of quitting now?: This is why it’s important to understand that, no matter what age smoking is ceased, health benefits can occur almost immediately.

Action steps that can help

  • Take it slow. Smoking is often used as a way to cope with stress. Therefore, rather than simply yanking out this behavior, you may have better luck gradually replacing it with more productive coping mechanisms. Incorporate supportive stress management practices like massage, spending time with friends, or engaging in a creative hobby, and use them to slowly phase cigarettes out.
  • Avoid shaming. Whether you’re trying to quit yourself or helping a client quit, don’t resort to shaming or judgement. It‘s common knowledge that smoking is linked to poor health; a person who smokes needs a sense of hope, not a lecture. The body can regenerate at any age! That’s why there’s still value in quitting, and the benefits can be linked to meaningful goals. For example, being able to go on a long, vigorous walk with a beloved pet while able to breathe freely and clearly.
  • Seek support. Individuals trying to quit may also find benefit in joining support groups, seeking counseling, or trying other medical interventions under the care of their physician.

6. Moderate or eliminate alcohol.

Wait a second — isn’t red wine supposed to promote longevity?!

The research on alcohol consumption — even moderate consumption — is mixed. Most experts suggest that if you don’t drink already, don’t start.

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to health problems in almost every part of the body:

  • Heart: Arrhythmias; high blood pressure; heart disease; stroke
  • Brain: Sleep disruption; depression; neurological damage; epilepsy; dementia; alcoholism (particularly if it runs in the family)
  • Immune system: More prone to infection / illness / lowered immune response; cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); increased inflammation / flare-ups of autoimmune disorders
  • Liver and kidneys: Fatty liver; alcoholic hepatitis; fibrosis / cirrhosis; liver cancer; kidney disease
  • Metabolism: Osteoporosis and bone fractures; anemia; pancreatitis; changes to fat metabolism; muscle damage; interference with some medications

The body can’t store alcohol, so must prioritize clearing it. As the liver metabolizes that scotch on the rocks, the side effect is that it may delay or neglect other tasks — like digesting, absorbing, and storing other nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

We want to be careful not to overburden the liver, so it’s free to do all the other important jobs it needs to do.

Common challenges seniors face with alcohol moderation

Not knowing what moderate drinking looks like: Many people may be in the “heavy drinking” category without even realizing it.

According to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, “moderate drinking” means, on average:

  • Women: Up to seven drinks per week, with no more than three drinks on any single day.
  • Men: Up to 14 drinks per week, with no more than four drinks on any single day.

And just so it’s clear what a “drink” is, here’s a guide:

Increased leisure time may mean increased drinking: Going out to restaurants more often may mean having a nice Chardonnay more often — or maybe even the occasional 9-hole beer bash at the golf club!

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism: People may drink to blunt chronic pain, loneliness, or anxiety.

Action steps that can help

  • Replace alcoholic beverages. Try water, sparkling water, or vegetable juices instead.
  • Experiment with other stress-reducing activities. If you’re having more than 1 to 2 drinks per night, and you have trouble stopping, try reflecting on how you cope with life stress. Instead of judgement or lecturing, approach this habit with curiosity and compassion. Consider replacing drinking with spending time in nature, getting together with family, or playing with a pet.
  • Don’t go it alone. As with smoking, people trying to quit or reduce alcohol consumption may also find benefit in joining support groups, seeking additional counselling, or trying other medical interventions under the care of their physician.

7. Connect with others.

When people are surveyed about the most meaningful aspects of their lives, they list good marriages, close family relationships, rich friendships, and lively work relationships.

Often, it’s the presence of other people, to love and be loved by, that enhances our reason to live.

Elderly who live in isolation are also most at risk for physical and psychological problems. Living alone may mean that there is no one to help if you fall, no one to talk to about joys or sorrows, and no one to help prepare food. As a result, elderly living alone may be more prone to injury, loneliness, and malnourishment.

All of these factors reduce lifespan, and more importantly, quality of life.

Meaningful human interaction:

  • gives a sense of purpose;
  • decreases subjective age;
  • improves mental health; and
  • makes life more fun and joyful.

Prioritize and enable regular connection with family, friends, and community members.

Common challenges seniors face with social connection

As age increases, individuals are more likely to experience loss: You lose a chance to connect when you lose friends, family members, beloved pets, or a spouse (which is especially correlated with a sharp increase in mortality).

Living in a long-term care facility can be isolating: This can be especially difficult if social connections are not nurtured and enabled.

Eating in isolation is a red flag: When people eat alone, meals tend to be more repetitive, simple, and less nutritious.

Action steps that can help

  • Stay as independent as possible, but still highly connected. This enables both autonomy and support, which means experiencing plenty of meaning, richness, and joy in the later stages of life. Even if an individual has lost a loved one (or many), quality social connections are available and can be developed.
  • Prioritize social activities. Options include family potlucks, group fitness classes, bird watching meet-ups, live theater field trips with friends, or taking a course in a creative or intellectual endeavor with other like-minded peers.
  • Mix generations. Although the elderly may appreciate spending time with people of their own generation, younger generations can provide energy and newness to an elderly person’s life, and an elderly person can provide wisdom and perspective to a younger person’s life.

Reflect on your life, then take action.

My two sets of grandparents were very different.

One set had poor lifestyle habits, suffered from chronic disease, and died in their early seventies in a nursing home.

The other set stayed active, kept a vegetable garden that fed them many meals, and lived in a close community where they were able to help and be helped by neighbors and friends. This set lived well and independently on their farm into their mid-nineties.

When I think about my two sets of grandparents, I see the range of possibilities my genetics offer. Mostly, I see how powerfully lifestyle habits can affect quality of life.

There are lots of things we don’t have control over. But we do have control over many habits that have tremendous impact on our health and how we age.

I don’t aim for perfection, and don’t advocate anyone else does. But I do advocate for being proactive.

If you’re aging — and, ahem, that’s all of us — reflect on your family history, and your current habits. Consult the above list and focus on one thing to promote your healthspan. Practice that habit, and add more when and if you feel ready. All positive actions count, and no healthy step forward is too small.

If you’re a health professional, help your elderly clients or patients take action on these habits. Acknowledge the real-life constraints they have, but more importantly, highlight their strengths. The elderly have superpowers too — they made it here this far, after all!

And for everyone: You have today. What can you do to make the most of it?

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

If you’re elderly:

1. Simplify your life.

The later years are a great time to clarify what’s truly important.

It’s ok to let go of possessions, tasks, and even relationships that no longer bring you joy and meaning.

If you have the means, hire help! Get a trainer to help you move safely and regularly, a meal service to ensure your nutrition needs are being met, or a local youth to take care of minor house repairs and chores you no longer want to do.

This allows you to spend more time on the things you enjoy, hopefully with the people you really love spending time with.

2. Join a community.

Social interactions and good relationships give us purpose, joy, and connection. Connection with others is also linked to better physiological health.

Find like-minded people to connect with regularly, be it with classmates from a course you take, family, or just your neighbors down the street or down the hall.

And don’t be afraid to connect with the younger generation! If you’re not a grandparent by blood, you might be able to volunteer as one!

3. Embrace change.

Change is a constant.

Rather than resist it, learn to embrace it. Support whatever changes arise with compassion, openness, and resilience.

Many people find that developing a spiritual practice is nurturing during times of intense change.

This practice can be anything that supports you and brings you peace, whether it’s a daily walk in nature, regular time with a loved one to talk out hopes and fears, or a mindfulness practice like meditation or deep breathing.

4. Emphasize joy and meaning.

Do stuff you like!

Find ways to incorporate pleasure into your daily life.

Choose foods that you love and can savor. Get a massage or enjoy a special spa treatment. Read books that spark your curiosity and fill your heart with joy. Do something you’ve never tried but you’ve always wanted to do. Appreciate the beauty around you, whether it’s the light in a child’s face or the bright colors of your flower garden.

5. Give back

One of the best ways to feel good is to give to others.

As an older individual, you have a lifetime of perspective and wisdom that you can share with others.

Donate to charity, volunteer, or teach others something you’ve learned in your life. This could mean helping tutor adults in math at your local community centre, or teaching a younger family member how to make the famous family pierogi recipe.

Think of the legacy you want to share, and give it generously.

If you work with the elderly:

1. Do a full assessment of your clients’ health status, needs, wants, and situation.

Look at your client or patient holistically and in context.

Find out what and how they’re eating, what they do (if anything) for activity, what their living situation is like, what kind of support they have, where their mood and motivation is at, and what they do for fun.

If you don’t have access to a lab, work with an individual’s family doctor to get blood testing done to ensure that there aren’t any obvious nutritional deficiencies or abnormal blood markers.

Avoid “one-size-fits-all” prescriptions. There is no one “protocol for healthy seniors”. Just as in other stages of life, every elderly person is unique.

2. Focus on the positive and what can be done.

Working with the elderly may mean working with some limitations.

While these limitations should be respected, they shouldn’t be the focus.

Instead, focus on what a person is ready, willing, and able to do. Add habits that are simple and provide easy “wins” for your client, which can help restore confidence and optimism.

Focus on doing the basics, consistently and well, to add a sense of autonomy and to improve quality of life.

Habits that are high impact, yet simple include:

  • Eating protein at every meal; drinking enough water;
  • Increasing the consumption of colorful fruits and veggies; and
  • Adding 10-30 minutes of movement per day.

3. Treat the elderly with dignity and respect.

Like all clients, assume they are the expert.

Chances are, they’ve been on the earth much longer than you, and have made it pretty far on their own.

So don’t boss them around.

As a health professional, you are there to provide information and support. Offer guidance but also offer options. Make it clear that the reins are in your client’s hands.

4. Know your scope of practice.

Work with other health care providers if your client or patient is facing issues you are not trained to deal with.

When appropriate and with consent, connect with a person’s family doctor, or other health professionals on their team.

Working together, you can all help to best serve a person in their quest to live a long, meaningful, healthy life.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes — at any age — is an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 33% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 33% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

Honeycutt, P.H., & Ramsey, P. (2002). Factors contributing to falls in elderly men living in the community. Geriatric Nursing, 23(5), 250-257.

Koski, K., Luukinen, H., Laippala, P., & Kivela, S.L. (1996). Physiological Factors and Medications as

Predictors of Injurious Falls by Elderly People: A Prospective Population-based Study. Age and Ageing, 25(1), 29-38.

Koski, K., Luukinen, H., Laippala, P., & Kivelä, S.L. (1998). Risk Factors for Major Injurious Falls among the Home-Dwelling Elderly by Functional Abilities: A Prospective Population-Based Study. Gerontology, 44(4), 232–238.

Madureira, M.M., Takayama, L., Gallinaro, A.L., Caparbo, V.F., Costa, R.A., & Pereira, R.M.R. (2007) Balance training program is highly effective in improving functional status and reducing the risk of falls in elderly women with osteoporosis: a randomized controlled trial. Osteoporosis International, 18(4), 419–425.

Roche, J.J.W., Wenn, R.T., Sahota, O., & Moran, C.G. (2005) Effect of comorbidities and postoperative complications on mortality after hip fracture in elderly people: prospective observational cohort study, BMJ, 331(7529),1374.

Stalenhoef, P.A., Diederiks, J.P.M., Knottnerus, J.A., Kester, A.D.M., & Crebolder, H.F.J.M. (2002). A risk model for the prediction of recurrent falls in community-dwelling elderly: A prospective cohort study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55(11), 1088-1094.

Thomas, D.R. (2006). Vitamins in Aging, Health, and Longevity. Clin Interv Aging, 1(1), 81–91.

Vivekananthan, D.P., Penn, M.S., Sapp, S.K., Hsu, A., & Topol, E.J. (2003). Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomised trials. The Lancet, 361(9374), 2017-2023.

Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, & Cardiovascular Disease. (2017, March). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16740-antioxidants-vitamin-e-beta-carotene–cardiovascular-disease

Arthritis. (2018, August). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthritis

Cataract. (2018, August). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract

Dehydration in the elderly. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/life/dehydrationelderly.html

Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes. (2012, March). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-calcium-updated-dietary-reference-intakes-nutrition.html

[DocMikeEvans]. (2011, December 2). 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo

 

Nobody trusts Facebook anymore. Here’s one way it could change that.

0

Nobody trusts Facebook anymoreFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky says Facebook and other tech companies should make it easy for users to temporarily opt out of data collection.

AnchorFree — the company behind the popular VPN app Hotspot Shield — recently surveyed its users, asking them when they cared about privacy and security. And when it came to most of their activity online, like sharing photos to Facebook, the survey respondents said they didn’t care.

“But 30 percent of the time, almost everyone said they cared about their privacy enormously,” AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky said on the latest episode of Recode Decode. “That 30 percent was when it came to things like your healthcare, your finances and your family.”

From a consumer perspective, however, the problem is that ISPs and data-hungry companies like Facebook don’t discriminate based on what the user wants. They’ll hoover up any data that they legally can, which is why apps like Gorodyansky’s are so popular; Hotspot Shield has been downloaded more than 650 million times, he said.

However, he had a proposal for tech companies seeking to avoid government regulation: Turn off the vacuums for that 30 percent time in exchange for the valuable long-term trust of users who are turning against you.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the world today that trusts Facebook,” Gorodyansky said. “I think they use ’em, it’s a great product, your friends are there and you want to hang out with your friends. But I don’t think anyone trusts them. That’s the thing.”

“If people are only concerned about protecting their data 30 percent of the time, it may not be a bad idea for these companies to say, ‘Look, let’s let people tell us when that 30 percent is and we won’t track them, for real,’” he explained. “‘And yes, our revenue will go down in the short term, but in the long term, our consumers are going to like us a lot more.’”

You can listen to Recode Decode wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast.

Below, we’ve shared a lightly edited full transcript of Kara’s conversation with David.


Kara Swisher: Today in the red chair is David Gorodyansky, the CEO of AnchorFree, the maker of a virtual private network app called Hotspot Shield. It has 600 million users and Axios calls it “the most important mobile app you’ve never heard of.” We’ll talk about all of that and more. David, welcome to Recode Decode.

David Gorodyansky: Thanks for having me.

So, it’s a great time to be talking about security now, even though this is going to be airing later. There is a hearing tomorrow in the Senate about security and the lack of security on social networks. Obviously, everyone is concerned about the midterm elections and everything else. And most people are thinking really hard about how our technology is being misused, essentially, and hacked, and all kinds of different things. Not just hacked, but misused.

So, just give us a little background on your company, AnchorFree.

Sure. So, AnchorFree is one the companies that has been providing security and privacy for the masses over the last 10 years. We have about 650 million people that have installed our applications, across mobile devices and computers, and we grow by about 250,000 new downloads every day. Essentially, what we do for people is, our flagship app is called Hotspot Shield. It secures everything you do online, essentially making every app you use, every website you visit, as secure as your banking site or your banking app.

We’re used on public Wi-Fi, which is a big area where consumers have their identities and data stolen a lot. So, airports, coffee shops, hotels, in-flight Wi-Fi. We encrypt all the traffic from a mobile device or computer or phone and essentially secure it all.

The other thing we do is, we protect the users’ IP address, which is a unique number that your internet service provider assigns to you when you first connect to the web at home, or when you are connecting to Wi-Fi. And essentially we take that IP address, that unique number, and we throw it away. And so, it disrupts the ability of your internet service provider or random websites or hackers from tracking you across the web.

And understanding what you’re doing.

And understanding what you’re doing. They’re just seeing …

They’re trying to collect data into what you wanna buy, what are you looking at, what are you seeing, so they can just have that data. Like a Comcast or a Verizon, or a Google.

Exactly. Well, until March of 2017, it was actually illegal for ISPs to collect and sell your data.

Right. Until then.

Yeah, as of March 2017, it’s now legal. They’re collecting and selling it without any problem.

Just like the Googles and the Facebooks, right?

Exactly.

Exactly.

And so, we’re protecting from that happening.

So, talk a little bit about the background now. When … How did you start it?

So, my co-founder and I were both students when we started the company. We were 23 years old. And we were working out of coffee shops a lot and realized that Wi-Fi was unsafe and unsecure. We also realized that privacy as a whole was just gonna explode in the coming years, because billions of people are joining the internet on smartphones.

As a matter of fact, today we have 2.5 billion smartphone users. Over the next three years, we’re gonna have five billion. People are moving on from old Nokia feature phones to smartphones. And with … We realized early on that privacy and security were gonna be super important for people. And so we started AnchorFree. In our minds, what we really wanted to do was solve a real billion-person problem. We wanted to essentially take control over information, over people’s data, away from corporations like Google and Facebook, hackers and governments. And give it back to the people.

And we felt like this would be something that really would be impactful at a huge scale, and essentially we started AnchorFree, launched Hotspot Shield. And most of our users, initially, were here in Silicon Valley using us. At Stanford, or wherever; on University Avenue, you need secure Wi-Fi. Until one morning we walked into our offices, and found a million Egyptians using our product. And we had no idea why.

Uh huh. They were all in your office?

They were … none of them were in our office.

I’m teasing.

And we’ve never marketed in Egypt and we had no idea. We didn’t know anyone in Egypt. It turned out that the Arab Spring started, and Egypt blocked access to social media, and the only way people could get to information was through AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield.

We looked at that and we thought, well, this is super interesting. Privacy and internet freedom are some of the most pressing human rights, technology issues, and also like moral issues. You know, providing freedom and privacy are right, are the right things to do. And we’re very idealistic and naïve. We’re 23 years old and we’re like, “Hey, we can devote our youth, our energy and our time to something that actually matters. And something that matters for a billion people.” Privacy and security could be a really good business, but it’s also important for the world, regardless of being good business. It’s just important for people. So, that’s how we started.

All right, so you … but you have other things you do on the service, correct?

We do. We started initially with Wi-Fi security. Then we added internet freedom and privacy. And most recently we added protection from phishing, malware and spam. So it’s a more comprehensive security product, which protects consumers from most of their mobile security threats of today.

Where most of it happens on mobile. Although, you can do it on a computer.

Exactly.

Yeah, this has been sort of an area peopled by a lot of big competitors; Symantec, and others, over the years. So talk about how it’s morphed. Because obviously, it’s become a mobile issue. People are much more connected, almost always on. In computers, you weren’t always on, necessarily. You may’ve had it open at home, but it wasn’t used.

Right.

So, talk a little bit about how the challenges have changed. And how do you compete against … Because there’s tons of these VPN sites. I’ve used them in China, I’ve used them lots of places. But not as a regular occurrence.

So, let me first start by saying that I think, and you know this really well, security and privacy threats are exponentially growing. You’re seeing things like Equifax getting hacked, you’re seeing Cambridge Analytica.

Well, that wasn’t a hack. It was a use.

Yes, that was selling of user data, right? All these vulnerabilities, of the Crack vulnerability, which was found last year in all Wi-Fi hotspots that people thought were secure and they weren’t. All these security and privacy challenges are just exponentially growing. And the companies, the biggest companies in the world around security, some of the companies you mentioned, are selling …

McAfee.

A lot of the old-school security companies are selling, sort of, PC antivirus at Best Buy. Right? And we’re in 2018, and we’ve got massive security and privacy threats happening on our mobile phones. And so, we’re not seeing the old-school security companies addressing these challenges.

As a matter of fact, if you look at most of them, most of their revenue is coming from the old PC business and their mobile revenue is tiny. And so, we wanted … we gotta set out on a path to build the next-generation security and privacy company that’s really gonna be for 2018 and for the future. And it’s mobile-centric, and it’s around protecting the privacy of your data that’s being collected by a bunch of third parties. It’s also about protecting users from phishing, which is a very big multi-billion dollar problem for consumers and businesses. And malware.

And so, we’re just not seeing a lot of solutions, we’re seeing a lot of challenges. So we believe we have the opportunity to build the next-gen security company.

Now you’ve raised how … You’re a profitable company, correct?

We have been a profitable company for many years.

But, you’ve just raised an enormous amount of money. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Yeah. We raised a fairly sizable round. This is the fourth investment we have taken. And we’ve basically raised it for several reasons. One is really around what I was just saying, that there is an opportunity to build the next-generation security company that will secure the privacy and security of the next billion consumers and thousands of businesses.

To do that, we’re building new products to add to our … to Hotspot Shield, to create a security and privacy suite. We’re also looking for M&A, some with new products that are gonna be geared towards protecting the security and privacy of the next billion people. We’re gonna build some, then we’re gonna buy.

And we believe that it’s really not about having one product, but a comprehensive suite, where the next group of consumers and businesses that are thinking about their privacy and security. They’re just gonna subscribe to this, or even use it for free. We always have a freemium model.

So you raised how much? How much did you raise in this round?

Close to $300 million.

And you had raised previously?

We raised $63 million before.

So, this was a big leap. And who is investing in this?

It’s a group of investors. The lead investor is WndrCo, which is a holding and investment company started by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sujay Jaswa and Ann Daly. And the other investors include Accel. Accel Partners and several others funds.

Several others. And so, the idea is that you’ve gone along with a small amount of money, $63 million isn’t very much. And now you have to up the game, in this regard.

Yeah, essentially we want to build a product suite that a billion people will use for free and a hundred million people will pay for. And to do that, it’s a combination of products for security and privacy that we have to put together and build. And we’re looking at M&A as a pretty important focus area. We’re gonna be looking very carefully at interesting technologies that we can add to our suite.

Right, so talk about your business. How do you make money? And in the next section, we’ll talk about the risks people have and that you’re seeing and stuff like that. But talk about that.

Sure. So we generate revenue from a freemium business model, similar to a Dropbox or a Spotify. People download Hotspot Shield. They can start using it for free. And at certain points, we ask people to pay. We have users that use us for free forever. We have users that have been using us for five, six, seven years for free. But, at the same time, we have a percent of our users that are paying a subscription. It’s $12.99 a month or $75 a year. And that provides security and privacy for up to five devices.

A lot of businesses are also buying it. A lot of people are buying it for their families. CFOs are using us, people on Wall Street are using us. A lot of people use us to protect their health data.

But generally, it’s a freemium model where you get more and more services beyond a lower level of service. Correct?

Correct.

And what is the growth you’re seeing? Is it just as a VPN business, where people … Where do you … Or is it just different globally?

The growth we’re seeing is mostly around mobile security and privacy. We’re seeing, as I mentioned, 250,000 new users every single day.

So what are they looking for? What are they …

They are looking for one of these four things. Either security and Wi-Fi. Privacy protection, even at home. You don’t want Comcast or whoever to see what you’re doing online. Protection from phishing, malware and spam. And also access to global content that may not be available in certain places, like the example of Egypt.

But I’ll tell you one interesting trend that’s happened over the last few years. Our usage has shifted heavily from being emerging markets-focused to being U.S.-focused.

Huh. So you’re going the opposite direction.

It’s very interesting, right? Typically, people start in the U.S., get market share.

Yeah. Right.

We’re very different. We’re a California-based company. All of our employees are here, and yet our usage for a very long time was primarily …

Based in Egypt and China.

Exactly, emerging markets. Over the last two years, that has changed materially. We still are big in emerging markets and still are growing, but the U.S. is now like 50 percent of our usage. It’s just incredible.

And you’re feeling … Why is that?

Couple of things. We saw a major spike when the FCC allowed ISPs to sell user data. We saw a major spike with the repeal of net neutrality. We saw a major spike in usage with the Crack vulnerability in Wi-Fi. Cambridge Analytica. All these things where people realized that, “Hey, my privacy is being compromised without my consent and my security is at risk.” All these things have caused major spikes.

And this is people in the U.S. who thought they were not … They were not bought and paid for, essentially.

Exactly. Essentially, three years ago, people in the U.S. just didn’t care about privacy and security. And today that has changed in a fairly massive way. To a point that if you look in the App Store, what are the top 50 most-downloaded apps? You’ll see Facebook, you’ll see Twitter, and you’ll see a bunch of games.

Alex Jones, for a second. But, thank God that changed. But, go ahead.

You’ll see us.

Yeah.

There’s actually two apps that we own and operate that you’ll see in the top 50.

Which are?

Hotspot Shield and Betternet.

And what’s the second one do?

It’s essentially the same thing, only it’s targeting a younger demographic, more student focused. Hotspot Shield is more business professional focused.

I see. Okay. What do students need? That is more … Hipper language?

Exactly. Different branding.

Okay.

But, it’s essentially almost every app in the top 50 apps on iPhone makes most of their revenue from selling data to advertisers. Right?

Right.

We make most of our revenue from protecting your data.

From advertisers and others.

From ISPs, from whoever. Right?

Right.

So, I firmly believe that the first three companies that essentially got to a billion people online were first Yahoo, then Google, then Facebook. I believe the next company that gets to a billion people online is going to be in the business of protecting your data.

From those people.

From those people. Those people are in the business of selling your data.

All right. That’s a perfect segue.

Let’s talk a little bit about what people should be worried about and what they shouldn’t. Maybe we’ll start on what they shouldn’t be worried about. What are some hype things that people should not think about?

We just surveyed our users and we asked them, “Do you care about privacy and security? And if so, when?” What we learned is that most people said that 70 percent of the time, they actually didn’t care about their privacy, they were happy to share pictures on Facebook or whatever. But 30 percent of the time, almost everyone said they cared about their privacy enormously. That 30 percent was when it came to things like your healthcare, your finances and your family.

People said, “Look, if I’m communicating with my friends and family, I want those conversations to stay private. If I’m doing some kind of financial transaction, logging into my bank, I want that to be private. If I’m researching things on WebMD or on Google around my healthcare, I want those things to be private, but other times I’m happy to be public and not be private.”

So, a lot of people have said, “Hey, are you going to disrupt business models of people that are … of like Google and Facebook?” and I said, “I don’t think so.” Because essentially, I believe that there is a reason and an opportunity to provide privacy and security for billing people or more, and they may not need to be private and secure all the time. I think that if 70 percent of the time they’re like, “Look, we’re happy to share our data,” that’s fine. But that 30 percent of the time where people want to be private, they should have the ability to click a very easy button and protect themselves.

So, let’s talk about what’s at risk, what people don’t realize. When I was using a VPN, I still use a VPN, I was somewhere and still using it, he was like, “Don’t use that, they have” — I’m not going to name them, but they’re from China. Explain what the problems are with some of these things.

There’s a number of problems with using security products from companies that are not well known, or not known at all. In the VPN industry, specifically, there’s some well-known players, there is AnchorFree, there’s Symantec and McAfee and Kaspersky and Bitdefender, sort of like, people in the security space that you kinda know. Even Verizon just launched a VPN, right? Samsung launched a VPN and that’s fine, and there is like all these sort of …

Yeah, the people collecting your data, launching a VPN. Obviously.

Well look, let’s talk about that in a sec.

Okay.

Then there is completely unknown players, and so consumers and businesses have to do a little bit of research and say, “Hey, are these people transparent about how they collect and treat data? Do they share data with governments, do they …?” whatever else. There are VPN companies that are, um, like a lot of VPN companies don’t disclose who’s on their board, who’s on their management team, who are their investors, have they ever issued a transparency report?

There is an independent report that was published today, actually, from AV-Test, which is a German security auditor. They analyze the security space. They have been around for a long time, they’ve been analyzing antivirus products and other things. So they just issued a report on VPNs, and what they found was that most VPN companies shared no transparency. This is a trust and transparency report.

AV-Test specifically studied how transparent are these companies with their data-collection practices, and also who they are and their jurisdiction and all these things. They found that most of the industry didn’t disclose even their location, their management teams, their CEO, nothing. Pretty scary. One of them happens to be in China, which is even more scary. Then they studied who has issued a transparency report, and they found actually there is only three companies in the VPN space.

Explain what a transparency report would do.

A transparency report is a legal official statement, a document, which shows how many subpoenas or requests for information …

From government.

From various governments around the world a company has received, and how much information have they shared.

Right.

When you’re thinking about security and privacy, it’s fairly important the products you use are run by companies that are transparent and they have transparency reports.

And will resist subpoenas, incorrect subpoenas.

Exactly, and will either resist, or even better, will just have no information to share because of the way they’re architected. See because resisting subpoenas, it’s a very hard game, especially for startups. The best way to protect user data is to not collect it, because then you don’t have to resist anything, you just have nothing to hand over.

This AV-test report found that only three companies in the VPN space, for both consumers and businesses, have issued transparency reports. Those three companies were Cisco, Avast and AnchorFree. Nobody else has issued a transparency report, and according to the transparency reports both Cisco and Avast shared information with law enforcement or with governments, different governments around the world. AnchorFree is the only company that hasn’t shared any information.

And why?

The reason is very simple.

You just don’t have it?

We just don’t have it. We’ve gotten over a hundred subpoenas over the last two years, we just have nothing to share.

Right, no matter what they’re asking for, you’re like …

It’s very simple: The best way to protect user data is to not log it or store it.

Right.

So, if you don’t have it, you have nothing to hand over.

So it just passes through you, is really what’s going on.

Exactly.

So, what else should people be worried about? Let’s start with just regular case scenarios. One is don’t go with a VPN that’s based in China. That’s kind of basic.

Yeah.

Which Kara Swisher did, thank you very much. So get a company that is transparent about how it deals with subpoenas, how it deals with the information, that doesn’t collect information. That’s one. Two, what about in public spaces, using public Wi-Fi’s?

Super important to use VPN.

Tell people why, again and again. What do people do?

Every time you connect to a public Wi-Fi, it’s super easy … let’s say you are sitting at the airport and you’re connecting to the San Francisco airport Wi-Fi, it’s super easy for a hacker to pretend that he or she is the San Francisco airport Wi-Fi and you are actually connecting through that hacker to the San Francisco airport Wi-Fi, and they are seeing in plain text everything you’re doing, your passwords, your emails.

They won’t necessarily see your passwords if you don’t use them, correct?

Correct. They’re seeing whatever you’re doing.

Whatever you’re doing. Right.

The same thing if you’re using inflight Wi-Fi. A lot of us people that fly for business use Wi-Fi all the time and fly.

Yes, I did that last night.

Yeah, super easy for hackers to see what you’re doing. And so, even if the network is safe, it’s secure, it doesn’t matter because everyone is connecting with the same password. Right. So what we do is essentially, if you turn on Hotspot Shield, we encrypt your whole network. It just looks like a bunch of gibberish to the hacker. So even if a hacker is trying to inspect your traffic, and even if you by accident connect through a hacker machine to the Wi-Fi, it doesn’t matter because it’ll take them 10 years to decrypt whatever you’re doing.

Right, and pointless.

And pointless.

It’s most likely an email to your mother or something like that.

Exactly.

So, that’s one, don’t get on public anything. Which, people don’t listen to.

If you get on to public Wi-Fi, very simple …

Be protected.

Use protection, right, use protection when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Hotspot Shield is free, there is a free version, or others. The other thing is, you’re in the privacy of your own home, and your internet service provider is tracking what you’re doing. Another major challenge for people …

What do they track exactly, so people can know?

Everything, every website you visit, everything you do, the whole data stream. Now some of it may be useless, they may not care about your email to your mother, but there’s other stuff that may be useful. I’ll give you a practical example …

Look at or go to Amazon, look at or go to this.

Well here’s the worst possible scenario. A colleague of mine went to Stanford hospital, and the people at Stanford told him, “Look, if you’re going to be researching health-related things on Google or WebMD, make sure you use some kind of protection, because that information is sold to your insurance company and your premiums could go up.” That’s kind of the worst scenario of your data being collected by legitimate corporations without your consent.

It’s supposed to be anonymized, right? Not necessarily …

Yeah, it’s supposed to be.

Yes, but they can guess, correct?

Yeah.

So, they can take information and piece it together, about you particularly, even though it’s supposed to be anonymized or put in a bulk, correct?

Totally.

But people can find them rather easily, from what I understand.

Very easily. Very easily.

The other big problem is … You know, everybody is concerned about Facebook selling user data, but actually there is a bigger concern, which is Facebook buying user data.

Right, I’d love to talk about that, because they don’t, I mean, Mark Zuckerberg interestingly at the hearing said “we don’t sell your data,” what they do is combine it with lots of other things and then sell the insights.

Exactly. The concern …

That’s the more dangerous thing.

Exactly. Facebook could argue that if you go to Facebook and you “Like” certain things and you post certain things, you’ve sort of given Facebook that information. Whether you agree with that or not …

Right, signals.

But when you go to WebMD, you never gave Facebook anything, but if they buy that information and combine it with your Facebook profile, now they know not only the things you “Liked” on Facebook, they actually know basically your healthcare history, and that’s pretty scary. That’s a real concern.

That they piece it together, they did that with Acxiom, they were combining things, there were voter registration things, they can combine it with any other outside data, and it’s enough to really be able to track you rather anonymously, yet not, correct? So what that does is they can’t see any traffic, they can’t see any traffic.

If consumers or businesses start using Hotspot Shield, they can’t see any traffic.

All right, what else is a danger? You’re traveling abroad?

So, you’re traveling abroad, hackers, obviously, trying to see what you’re doing, trying to steal your data, you’re paying with PayPal from abroad, you’re doing other things. I mean, we see a lot of businesses, small- and medium-size businesses, using us. We recently launched Hotspot Shield for Business, for their employees that are traveling a lot, connecting in public Wi-Fi, to stay secure and private. Then there is phishing, so you know, people get emails, looks like it’s from your bank, you click on it and it actually looks like the banking site.

Yeah, it does.

You know, they ask for your login and password and they steal it, and they can log into your bank account. So we block 36 million malware and phishing domains that are updated daily.

So you can’t get to ’em.

Yeah, so if you click on an email that looks like it’s from your bank and it’s really a phishing site, we will block it and we will notify you. That’s sort of, when we’re talking the security and privacy challenges of the future versus the PC antivirus of the past, that’s really what we’re talking about. There are major concerns about data collection, by ISPs, by governments, by hackers. There are major concerns about Wi-Fi usage, which, everybody uses Wi-Fi. There are major concerns about phishing and there are major concerns about malware, and combining all that into one solution is what we’re trying to do here.

All right, so what’s the far-out problem that people should worry about? Those are things that people have heard of. What is the most, what is the latest thing?

The other major challenge is that we’re moving to a world where we’re going to have more than 25 billion connected devices through IoT, and my mattress today is actually a smart mattress.

What?

So I have a little thing called Sleep Tracker on my mattress, it reports back how well I sleep.

Alright.

Right. Our refrigerators are going to be smart.

Right, the Google homes and the Amazon Alexa …

Exactly, the Nest thermostats, all these things.

I have a Nest thermostat in the home I just bought, I don’t know what to do with it.

Well, at least you didn’t buy the one from the Chinese company.

I didn’t, no, I put a bag on it already, I have a bag on it. It’s really a beautiful piece of art, actually. It’s a beautifully designed thing but …

It’s probably listening to you.

Oh, it’s not going to be listening, it’s got a bag and a pillow on it, but go ahead, I’ll be taking it down, I’ll be taking it down.

Nice. But yeah, that’s …

Like I need more Google in my home anyway.

Exactly. So that’s the thing, where your home is becoming smart and all this information is being reported through the internet to various places — your doctor, the store, whatever — and protecting all that information is extremely important. Like a crazy stat that I read is that 90 percent of all the data collected about us and known about us to date has been collected over the last two years.

Right, wow.

Which is a pretty crazy stat because if you think about the next five years, and we’ve got 25 billion new devices connected, we have five billion new internet users coming online. Our information is going to be exponentially larger. It’s going to be a convenience for a lot of us, it’s going to be convenient that we can get information about how well we sleep or what we eat and get your refrigerator to order milk when you’re running out. That’s all convenience. But it’s also a major, major concern, and a goldmine for hackers.

Right, 100 percent. And I think what people need to realize is they’re giving it away without a fight, you know, without even thinking about it.

Exactly, exactly.

It’s sort of like leaving their door open.

And you know what? It’s super-simple to protect yourself, that’s the thing. That’s what … I think what most people don’t understand is that it’s super, super simple to use a very easy security and privacy solutions to protect your data.

Let’s talk about the bigger picture of privacy. This has been something that’s been, you know, largely because of the recent things around the elections, which wasn’t really hacking, and it wasn’t really privacy, it’s just the misuse of these social platforms which have an enormous amount of data, and I think the focus has been on the enormous amount of data they have about people.

This time, it was sold to a group that then used it for election things. I think that we’ll have no way of knowing if it had an impact, but we have the vague sense that, yes, it absolutely did. There was false advertising on Facebook and Twitter, and some on Google and YouTube. There was fake news, which is a whole ‘nother problem.

There was the lack of transparency in ads, especially political ads. Let’s talk about the bigger picture. Of course, this country has pretty much done no discernible regulation of the internet in any way, in order to allow it to grow, which I think most people feel, it’s been a pretty good trade-off. But now, people are … Those chickens are coming home to roost, I think, in a lot of ways. So talk to me about the bigger picture and where we are.

There’s an incredible amount of data that’s going to be available about us in the coming years, and whether it’s coming from our IOT devices …

In the last two years, yeah.

Or mobile phones or whatnot, and there’s a need to protect the data. Consumers deserve the right and businesses deserve the right to have very simple common-sense protection for their information. But at the same time, there’s a lot of forces out there that don’t want …

No, why would you?

That don’t want privacy, and you know there’s a lot of you know, whether it’s governments around the world or corporations or hackers that have great incentives for our data to not be protected.

Right. There’s one group that just wants to steal our information so they can raid our bank accounts or raid our credit cards. That’s one, that’s the hackers.

Right.

Those have been around … Bank robbers have been around since the beginning of time. That’s essentially what they are, but they’re just using more sophisticated means to do so. Or to take people’s profiles or whatever. Whatever nefarious uses.

Exactly.

The other is a group of people that wanna use it to affect elections, to create discord and all kinds of things. That’s the Russians or the Iranians or whoever. Even the United States in some countries. And then there’s governments who want to know everything about you in order to control you, if they’re more fascist governments that want that information. And then there’s the Facebooks and Googles of the world that just want to make a buck off of you.

Exactly.

So it’s coming from everywhere.

It’s coming from everywhere and there’s very few that are saying, “Hey how do we protect all of this data? And how do we really put the consumer or the business in control of their own information?”

Mm-hmm.

For me, having started AnchorFree when I was 23 years old and being very naïve and idealistic, this is both a business issue, a technology issue and a moral issue. I actually morally think that it’s the right thing to do, to provide people this basic human right of privacy where every user has the ability to click a button and protect their information.

Right.

But at a high level, I’ve been watching legislature … This was maybe eight years ago, you probably remember there’s this thing called Do Not Track in Congress. It hung out there forever and nothing really happened.

Yeah, that sounds about right. What happened to the Honest Ads Act? That didn’t pass, right?

There’s all this kind of stuff. I’ll tell you, I had dinner in D.C. with the only FCC commissioner who voted against the repeal of net neutrality in the current FCC. And also Reed Hundt, who was the chairman of the FCC under Bill Clinton [and] has been on my board of advisers for quite some time. We’ve been discussing these issues and I kind of … we’re very strong supporters of net neutrality. But kind of came at it and said, “You know what, let the policy makers do whatever they do. We’re going to provide a technological solution to this and we want a software development kit that essentially any app developer can integrate and preserve net neutrality.” It disrupts that ability for internet service providers to discriminate against their traffic because we anonymize the way the traffic looks.

You don’t know if it’s from …

You don’t know if it’s Netflix, Twitter or YouTube. It all looks like AnchorFree and so you can’t discriminate. At a high level, I think that the technology industry needs to provide these technology solutions to privacy. Because I don’t know if governments will get there. Although Europe certainly has taken the first step, GDPR. Everybody argues it’s a huge annoyance. People had to change their practices, it’s a pain, right?

Mm-hmm.

But I do think it’s the right thing to do. I honestly do because it’s the first step in the right direction.

So Europe’s been the most stringent, in terms of putting the …

They have.

And a lot of things. A right to not be known, which is very difficult. It does get in the way of these people’s businesses, pretty much. And their argument now is the more regulations, the better off for us, because we can maintain them while small players… That’s their new argument, just so you know. Okay, probably they’re right on that one, I have to say, it’s a good argument to make. So don’t put regulations in, and therefore we will eventually get overcome by other startups, that’s I think their general … It’s a fascinating argument.

It’s interesting. Well, that’s great. So we’re going to try to overcome them.

Yes, exactly. So there’s that … that’s one. Then there’s here in California, a privacy bill that not everybody’s happy with but it is certainly the most stringent in the nation in terms of protecting privacy. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be any movement in the U.S. government in terms of federal, correct? Am I wrong about that? I mean they threaten it.

I think there’s going to be a lot of bills. I don’t actually know, if anything’s going to pass.

Right. They threaten all kinds of things like content moderation bills, algorithm transparency bills, bills around … That’ll be interesting. That’ll never pass.

Yeah. I personally support a lot of the stuff, but at the same time, sort of the grain of salt, in that being I actually think a lot of it is more philosophical than practical. Philosophically, you’re like California, into privacy, great. And then practically, you’re like, “I don’t know if this stuff …”

Works.

“Is it going to work, is it going to pass?” And so I still think from where we’re sitting, we’re looking at a lot of global issues. Our business is built on this intersection of human rights, foreign policy and technology. And we’re looking at the world and we’re saying, “Look, we have more faith in ourselves providing technology solutions, like we did with net neutrality.”

Mm-hmm.

Because we got tired of talking about it with politicians and we just launched technology that actually enables any app developer for free to preserve net neutrality if they want to. And in the same way we’re just going to provide common-sense tech solutions to some of these most pressing global challenges. Hopefully people in businesses will adopt them. I mean, so far it’s certainly working.

Mm-hmm. So what do you imagine is going to pass? Is there any federal legislation? I don’t.

Yeah, I don’t. I don’t know.

Yeah. They’ll pass a … The recent one is the idea that they should nationalize internet companies. That’s an insane one. That’s a Laura Ingraham inanity that I think will probably pass. But is there anything that you think has any chance? Any privacy bill?

I honestly don’t know. I would like to see more countries take the route that Europe has.

Mm-hmm. Are there any countries that are gonna do that?

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Well, not China, we know that.

Exactly.

Yeah. Not Russia, not China. But none of them will, I don’t think.

I don’t think so.

Yeah. You might see some bills in certain countries where Facebook is having bad impacts, them passing bills to restrict the usage of things like that. But nothing else, really. What would be the perfect bill for you, for the U.S.?

I mean, ideally you’d have something where consumers would have to opt in if they wanted their data to be collected for some reason.

An Internet Bill of Rights, per se.

Right. And opt out when they didn’t and it’d be really simple. I mean, if it’s a 12-page privacy policy it doesn’t work. But if it’s like one button: I want to be private or I don’t want to be private. Something like that. Again, I just think there’s this massive opportunity in the private sector to provide solutions for privacy and security.

Right, if the government’s not gonna to do it.

I just think it’ll move a lot faster. We’ll continue to support these things.

What about self-regulation of some of these companies that make all their money? Like the Facebooks and Googles of the world. They keep saying they will have the control.

Well, you saw what happened to the Facebook stock around having to implement GDPR in Europe.

Right.

The European revenue suffered, like for real. So it’s very hard for them to self-regulate in a material way. Not in a PR type of way, but in a real way.

Yes, that’s a really good distinction.

They seriously lose revenue if they can’t sell private data.

Right.

I would argue that they’re thinking long term. If people are only concerned about protecting their data 30 percent of the time, it may not be a bad idea for these companies to say, “Look, let’s let people tell us when that 30 percent is and we won’t track them. For real.”

Mm-hmm.

“And yes, our revenue will go down in the short term, but in the long term, the trust in our brand …”

Right. Yeah.

“Our consumers are going to like us a lot more.”

Absolutely, the product becomes less of a feeling you’re being tracked.

I don’t think there’s anybody in the world today that trusts Facebook. I think they use ’em, it’s a great product, your friends are there and you want to hang out with your friends. But I don’t think anyone trusts them. That’s the thing.

That’s the thing.

And if they wanted to earn that trust … The same thing, actually, for governments. I don’t think there’s a lot of people that trust the government here, but I don’t know if that’s true for Europe. I actually think a lot of Europeans, a lot of Germans, will tell you they actually trust their government with their data because of these things like GDPR. I think if I was a government of some country and I wanted to earn that trust, in a post-Snowden world and stuff, I would go support things like GDPR because actually that earns trust.

Right. Where do you think it’s going now? As you were saying, last two years, we’ve gotten all this data downloaded about us. There’s more and more devices that people are embracing. And there’ll be more glasses, clothing, embedded technology in people. We’ll have some sort of phone in our ear at some point that we have, we just have. So the solution right now are these smaller companies that are making hay out of the abuses of the bigger companies.

As long as those companies have real technology and real architecture around those technologies to really protect the user, then yes. If those companies are sort of operations in a garage that are making a lot of noise and are actually not truly protecting user information, then they’re actually worse. Because they’re actually fooling people into believing that they’re protected when they’re not.

Really, I think there may be a couple of things that could happen. One, the big security companies wake up and start innovating. They haven’t innovated for a while because they’re mostly owned by private equity firms and all they’re doing is milking …

Milking it, right?

Milking the cash.

Right.

But one scenario is that they wake up they’re like, “This is a big business opportunity. Let’s go innovate.” The second is startups like AnchorFree come around and disrupt the space, which we’re hoping to do. The third, that some of these big corporations will self-regulate in a real way, probably not.

Mm-hmm.

Simply because it seriously hurts their bottom line. That governments will sort of follow Europe? Maybe, but probably very slowly. And not in the next five years, I don’t think.

But the other thing is, security and privacy go hand in hand. You really can’t have one without the other. So if you really want to build really secure systems, but yet you still want to collect user data, that’s a challenge. Really, for the next billion people. I think the future is gonna be yes, you have all these hundreds of connected devices. Your life is always connected. But for that 30 percent of time where you want to be private? You’re just gonna have the security and privacy suite you’re gonna subscribe to just like you subscribe to Netflix. You’re just gonna have it.

Right.

And everyone’s going to have it. The next billion people. Every American’s gonna have it. And it’s just gonna protect you when you need that protection.

Yeah. It’s too bad we can’t just be protected. It’s kind of funny, it’s like hiring your own private security force when you should be …

But you can, the great thing is that you can.

Right.

Like, you look in the app store and we’re right there in the top 50.

Yeah, yeah.

People are waking up and …

And figuring it out.

They’re figuring it out.

It’s not a great realization.

So, to finish up, the thing we have to do is get yourself that kind of protection… Name the three things that people should do.

Definitely use Hotspot Shield for …

Or someone else.

Or someone else. Use a security product to protect yourself at public Wi-Fi and protect your internet even at home and at work. Two, I would suggest using a good password manager.

I use 1Password.

Yeah, they’re great actually.

I still don’t understand it but go ahead.

So, that’s two. Three, there’s all kinds of things that you can opt out of like face recognition on Facebook. Which I really recommend people do.

Yeah.

A lot of people don’t really …

What about on Apple?

Apple …

It stores it on the phone.

Yeah, it’s local, so it shouldn’t be that much of a concern. But you can opt out of it if you’re concerned.

Yeah.

Certainly you can use Incognito on your browser. But again, like 87 percent of our usage is in apps.

Explain Incognito for people.

Incognito just means your browser is not gonna collect the websites you visit.

Right. Right.

But, that shouldn’t be mistaken that your IP address, which is the number your ISP gives you, will still be collected by all those websites.

Right, exactly.

Unless you use VPN.

Right, absolutely.

This has been really interesting with David Gorodyansky, he’s the CEO of AnchorFree, and he’s doing God’s work, as far as I’m concerned. If you really are worried about all the information these companies have on you, and you should be, please use his products and all the other security products that we have to protect ourselves with. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Thank you, Kara.

Square CFO Sarah Friar is leaving to become the CEO of Nextdoor — which means she won’t become the CEO of Square

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Sarah Friar

Friar was one of Square CEO Jack Dorsey’s most valuable deputies.

Sarah Friar, the CFO of Square, is leaving the company to take the CEO role at Nextdoor, the social networking company that focuses on neighborhoods.

Square CEO Jack Dorsey shared the news Wednesday when he tweeted an internal memo that he sent to company employees.

“I’m saddened by the news. I was unrealistically expecting to work with Sarah well into our 90s,” Dorsey wrote. “Unrealistic because I knew of Sarah’s lifelong ambition to run her own company.”

The irony there is that many people did expect that Friar would eventually run her own company: Square. If you ask people close to Dorsey how he’s able to run two publicly traded companies — he is also CEO at Twitter — Friar’s name is often tossed out as an example of the kind of strong leadership he has surrounding him at Square to make that work.

Friar was considered by many to be a potential CEO candidate for Square if Dorsey ever decided to run Twitter full time.

Clearly that’s not going to happen now.

As far as CFOs are measured, Friar has had a very successful run. Since Square went public in late 2015, the stock has more than quintupled in price. It was down more than 9 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday on news of Friar’s departure.

Her challenge at Nextdoor will be different, at least for a while. Nextdoor CEO and co-founder Nirav Tolia announced that he was stepping down in July to “find a proven operator to take that company to the next level.” Nextdoor is still trying to grow its business and expand internationally before an IPO.

Square, meanwhile, will hunt for Friar’s replacement with the help of a few of its board members. David Viniar, former CFO of Goldman Sachs, and Roelof Botha, former CFO of PayPal, will “partner” on the search, Dorsey said in his memo.

Here’s Friar onstage at Recode’s Code Commerce conference last month.

Banana Nut Waffles

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Healthy waffles have never been easier! Try our our recipe for Banana Waffles today!

Pancakes and waffles are so easy to “hide” nutrient rich fruits and nuts!  Hiding nutritious foods really is just adding them to foods that your kids already like.  On Saturday we set out to make our typical waffle recipe, but this time, we puréed some banana, ground up some walnuts for a little extra nutrient hiding, and the kids loved them!

This recipe can make 10 waffles, which is great news if you want to make them all and freeze some. You can also cut the recipe in half and have just enough for your breakfast today.  I love that the banana is inside the waffles, and doesn’t need to be a “topping”. Sometimes, it’s just easier to get kids to eat a fruit or veggie when it’s incorporated completely into the mix.  It also makes a great finger food if you can have the healthy nutrients inside the batter rather than on top.

What is the best waffle iron?

There are so many waffle irons to choose from, that it really comes down to a personal preference.  You can select:

  • Belgian waffle iron– With deeper grooves, Belgian waffles are thicker and tend to be crispier on the outside, and tender inside.
  • Classic waffle maker– With a classic waffle iron, you get flatter and thinner waffles
  • Non-stick -Many non-stick surfaces for pans and appliances are coated with Teflon.  This coating may peel at high heats and create toxic fumes. With so many other non-stick surfaces available today, it’s easy to stay away from Teflon.
  • Ceramic – Ceramic is a safe, non-stick alternative to Teflon and many waffle makers are coated or dipped with ceramic clay. Because ceramic is good for cooking at low to medium temperatures, it makes a great surface for waffles that don’t need to get too hot.
  • Stainless steel – Stainless steel is easy to clean and can reach high temperatures well.
  • Copper titanium– This newcomer to the market can withstand heats up to 850 degrees and is very durable.
  • Shapes– Waffle makers have become a collectible! You can now make waffles in the shape of Texas, Mickey Mouse, circus animals and so much more!
  • Rotating- I actually do own a rotating waffle iron. You pour the batter on your waffle plate, close the lid, and flip it over. I think it helps the waffle to spread and cook more evenly.
  • Double decker – Making a lot of waffles, these double deckers are brilliant! My sister in law has one, and cooking waffles in half the time is AMAZING!

So, I’d love to know!! WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAFFLE IRON?

 

 

The Alleged Talent Gap Isn’t About Skills. It’s About Companies’ Expectations.

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Alleged Talent Gap

Just a few years ago, a young man named Alfredo Molina didn’t want to be an accountant anymore. He had learned a new skill, programming, all on his own — and he was good at it. He was ready to put that to use in a career more up his alley, one where he felt