Is It Okay to Swear?
Since the pandemic, swearing has been seen increasingly as a sign of intelligence. Just don’t overdo it.
Here are today’s highlights:
Make sure you can explain what you did with your EIDL money.
Shopify merchants get a new way to sell through Twitter.
It turns out you can trademark the word “THE.”
The housing market appears to be on the verge of a bust.
Does swearing in the office make you sound smarter? “While older studies labeled swearers as stupid, recent research studies actually indicate that people who use profanity are considered more intelligent and honest. One researcher found that swearing builds esprit de corps, especially under stressful circumstances. Another study confirms that allowing people to swear at work may enable them to let off steam and be more productive. Indeed, allowing yourself to curse now and then may even make you happier, writes Arthur C. Brooks, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School.”
“Even people who allow themselves to swear at work put limits on their language. Here are a few of their suggestions: Try not to be the first one to use profanity.”
“Know your audience: Millions of people discipline themselves to refrain from uncouth language. They do not look kindly on the person who burns their ears.”
“Be strategic: Saving swear words for exceptional moments is what retains their impact. If you swear all the time, you'll just seem coarse.” READ MORE
Ami Kassar says you should be prepared to tell your loan officer what you did with your EIDL funds: “Remember those EIDL loans that seemed too good to be true, and many entrepreneurs grabbed them irrespective of economic need? Well, they are starting to catch up with folks in a new way. As we review loan requests, a new question we have to ask is if you got EIDL money and what you did with it. Did you use it for allowed expenses? If you have extra money sitting in an account that you haven't used yet, what's your plan for it? And are the proposed uses allowed under the program?” READ MORE
Twitter is adding a feature that will make it easier to buy from Shopify merchants: “Shopify merchants will be able to display and automatically update up to 50 items for sale on their Twitter profile, the companies said Wednesday. Users will be able click on items and be directed to the merchant’s website to complete a purchase. ... The setup doesn’t go as far as features offered by other platforms including Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, which allow shoppers to complete purchases without leaving the apps. Businesses that Twitter surveyed said they preferred to stay in control of the purchasing process, a Twitter spokeswoman said.”
“Investment bank Piper Sandler estimates that the U.S. social-commerce market could total $168 billion by 2027, more than four times the $37 billion in transactions in 2021. The U.S. market is much smaller than China, where merchants recorded an estimated $352 billion in social-commerce sales last year, according to Piper Sandler.”
“ByteDance’s TikTok, for example, takes a small percentage of sales generated on its shopping channel as a fee. Facebook and Instagram don’t charge fees, although the platforms encourage business users to buy ‘promoted’ posts to boost their visibility and to draw customers.” READ MORE
Here’s how Sweetgreen is using TikTok to target Gen Z: “[Co-founder and chief brand officer Nathaiel] Ru said 65 percent of Sweetgreen customers personalize their salads, which led to the idea for creator-led videos on TikTok that break down its salads' ingredients and played to Gen Z's sense of fun. The effort is starting to pay off: A ‘Create Your Own’ ad directed by food content creator Owen Han on TikTok, starring Booker and Osaka, got a click-through-rate of 24 percent from users aged 13 to 17, more than any of its campaigns.”
“The company has also been pushing out digital features to capitalize on an increase in online ordering during the pandemic. It introduced a $10 subscription service, Sweetpass, that gave users a $3 credit per day for 30 days on certain orders.” READ MORE
THE Ohio State University has trademarked the word “THE”—“in a victory for the college and its branding that is sure to produce eye rolls from Michigan fans and other rivals. Stating the full name of the school has become a point of pride for Ohio State’s athletes when introducing themselves on television during games. The three-letter article “THE” has also become an important part of the school’s merchandise and apparel.”
“The trademark produced plenty of jokes on social media: ‘Still, THE most pretentious thing in sports,’ one person tweeted.”
“‘THE team that loses to the SEC every year,’ another person tweeted.” READ MORE
In Russia, Western brands are up for grabs: “Russian entities have filed more than 300 applications to register brands as varied as Chanel, Durex, and Mercedes-Benz with Russia’s federal office for intellectual property since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to research by Ms. Calboli and Vera Sevastianova, a Ph.D. candidate at the Hanken School of Economics, a university in Finland. None of the applications have been granted so far, Ms. Calboli said. A more subtle type of brand imitation is also emerging in Russia from the local teams recently orphaned by their Western employers.”
“After Hearst pulled the license for its magazines, including Men’s Health, the publication’s staff kept publishing under the name Men Today, with a similar white font on a red background. So far, the magazine has only published online, but it is planning a print edition in July with a run of up to 100,000 copies, compared with 130,000 under Hearst.
Anton Ivanov, editor in chief of the Russian publication, said that the new name was approved by Hearst after a negotiation. ‘It was important for them that it be different. But for us it was important that it not be different. We arrived at a compromise,’ Mr. Ivanov said.”
“Soft-drink maker Ochakovo introduced three new drinks: CoolCola, a mix of Coke and Pepsi; Fancy, which looks like Fanta; and Street, a knockoff of Sprite.”
“Gennadii Golovan, who owns two grocery stores in Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, a city in Russia’s Far East, said the new brands aren’t very popular. ...’For each bottle of CoolCola, we sell six Coca-Cola bottles [while supplies last!] and 20 bottles of lemonade,’ Mr. Golovan said.”
“Black Star Burger’s Mr. Levitas is on to his next promotion, imitating the green and red colors of the company that took over McDonald’s in Russia. At the same time, he is all for strong trademark protections. ‘Otherwise, everyone would be stealing each other’s brands. That’s not right,’ Mr. Levitas said.” READ MORE
The housing market seems priced for a sharp reversal: “The National Association of Realtors’ measure of home affordability, based on mortgage rates, home prices and household income, showed that as of April existing homes were at their least affordable level since July 2007. They are even less affordable now. On Tuesday, the NAR said the median price on an existing home rose to $407,600 in May from $395,500 in April, while Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5.78 percent, up from 5.23 percent a week earlier and from an April average of 4.98 percent.”
“It is a big change from January, when the average rate was 3.45 percent, and the affordability measure, while not as easy as it was earlier in the pandemic, was still better than it had been through much of the 1990s and 2000s.”
“Back then, another banner year for housing seemed likely.” READ MORE
With commuters not returning to Philadelphia, the city’s economy is shrinking: “More than two years into the pandemic, thousands of employees continue to work remotely in the suburbs rather than commute into the city, according to a new report by Pew Charitable Trusts. The permanent trend toward remote work is contributing to Philadelphia’s tepid economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in the total workforce overall, Pew found.”
“Amid the pandemic, lower-wage jobs in hotels, restaurants, and other leisure sectors disappeared, hurting already disadvantaged Philadelphians with lower incomes who held these service positions.”
“‘For now, at least, many highly educated white-collar workers are benefiting from the increased flexibility of remote work, while some less-educated workers — many of them people of color — are not,’ Eichel wrote in the report.”
“Nearly every sector of Philly’s economy shrank between the fourth quarter of 2019 to the same quarter of 2021, with leisure and hospitality hit hardest.” READ MORE
A startup called Sanas is using AI to change the accents of speakers: “Sanas’ technology is already being deployed in call centers. Specifically, it’s found a lot of traction with far-flung customer service providers, which have become a hotbed of abuse against agents who might speak the same language as a customer, but heavily accented. In addition to insurance giant Assurant and BPO leviathan Alorica, other customers include the large collection agency firm ERC and travel industry BPO IGT.”
“Sanas’ CEO and co-founder Maxim Serebryakov said the result of using the tech in these places has been dramatic in terms of the reduction in agent harassment.”
“Sanas’ plan is to use the funding both to continue expanding its business in that vertical but also to start to shape up for other use cases in the enterprise, for example as a plug-in for video calls, or for voice-based interactive services to help machines (and ML-based systems) understand a wider range of accents.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Do Core Values Matter? This week, Sarah Segal tells Shawn Busse and Paul Downs why she’s never articulated a set of core values for her business and why she’s thinking about doing it now. But she’s wondering whether establishing her values will really make a difference. Do employees care? Do clients care? Both Shawn and Paul say they do. In fact, Paul says his core values have been extremely helpful when it comes to recruiting. And Shawn says he thinks sharing values can be the best competitive advantage smaller businesses have. Plus: We get an update on how Paul’s big marketing initiative is going, and we follow up on why Sarah feels compelled to participate in almost all of her firm’s client calls.
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If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren