You Get One Chance
For businesses returning to the office, this is the opportunity to create a new rhythm and establish a better way to work together.
Here are today’s highlights:
Robert Half says 84 percent of job candidates have ghosted an employer.
Inside the unique-destination strategy that has made Kristie Wolfe an Airbnb superstar.
A plan to disrupt established yarn retailers sets off a backlash.
Asian entrepreneurs look for ways to respond to online threats.
A Harvard Business School professor thinks too many companies are trying to bring employees back to the office by lopping a day or two off the work week: “‘That has been the knee jerk reaction,’ said [Prithwiraj] Choudhury. ‘I really want to caution against that.’ Instead, his research indicates the most successful hybrid model centers around being in a physical office based on a percentage of time ― like 25 percent ― not a number of days. Such an approach creates the most flexibility, Choudhury said. He advocates for schedules to be set team by team, not company wide; some teams may determine that coming in once a week is the most effective way to work together, while others may decide meeting up one week a month is better.”
“Choudhury said that when people can work from anywhere, the physical office needs to have purpose, such as for mentoring, deep collaboration, or team meals: ‘It’s not work bringing us back into the office, it’s social interaction.’”
“‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new rhythm,’ said Choudhury. ‘Once that new rhythm is set, it’ll be hard to change it again. So why not create a rhythm that is really, really the best practice?’” READ MORE
Eighty-four percent of job candidates say they’ve ghosted an employer or potential employer: “By surveying more than 2,300 senior managers and more than 2,400 workers in the U.S., Robert Half found that 35 percent of employers who had lost out on a candidate had done so because they were slow to make an offer. Forty percent lost a candidate because they didn’t allow enough schedule flexibility, and 24 percent offered too little pay.”
“Men are more likely than women to ghost, Visier found, with 90 percent of men and 68 percent of women admitting to ghosting.”
“Office workers also admitted to more ghosting than front-line workers did. The biggest ghosters of all were senior leaders: 99 percent of senior vice presidents and 96 percent of C-level executives admitted that they’d ghosted a potential employer before.”
“To avoid being ghosted, Robert Half recommends that companies move fast on strong candidates: Time kills deals. Quickly follow up with all candidates, even the ones who aren’t a fit, in order to build a reputation for providing a strong candidate experience.” READ MORE
How Kristie Wolfe builds special vacation properties to list on Airbnb: “Over the past decade, Wolfe has built some of the most popular and unique vacation rentals on the platform, including: A jungle treehouse in Hawaii. A real-life hobbit hole in Washington. A converted fire lookout in the middle of a forest. A potato-shaped tiny home in Idaho. In Airbnb circles, Wolfe is a legend — not just for her creative builds, but for her ability to figure everything out herself, often on an impossibly small budget. She constructs most of her properties from the ground up, in off-grid locations, with the helping hand of her 70-year-old mom. Less than a decade ago, Wolfe was making $13/hr working odd jobs. Today, her properties gross hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.”
“Searches for ‘unique’ properties were up 94 percent on the platform last year, and an Airbnb spokesperson tells The Hustle that hosts of unique abodes made $300 million globally in 2020.”
“She hires someone on Upwork to write a press release. She gives away a few free stays to get user feedback and high-quality photos. She outsources her property management to the automated platform Guesty.”
“‘The most common question I get is how I find people to take care of my properties in such rural locations,’ she says. ‘My trick was to change the ad from ‘housekeeper’ to ‘caretaker.’ It sounds much more appealing, and the difference in the quality of applicants is night and day.” READ MORE
One company’s aggressive plan to disrupt the yarn business has inspired a backlash: “On February 16, EcomCrew published a blog post and accompanying podcast outlining their latest attempt to launch an ecommerce business. The since-deleted post explained how the duo were going to build a seven-figure brand in the next 12 months based around the knitting niche. The pair revealed that they’d spent $80,000 — of a planned budget of between $250,000 and $500,000 — in order to buy the dormant domain knitting.com. The plan was to launch an Amazon-based direct-to-consumer retail brand.
“On February 23, a user posted a link to EcomCrew’s blog post on r/craftsnark, a craft and sewing subreddit, dismissing the notion that they could build ‘a $10m/year [sic] business’ in a year.”
“‘It was like two guys with an air fryer under their arm, walking into the oldest restaurant in the country and proudly explaining how they were going to make a million dollars in a year selling air-fried frozen chicken nuggets from Costco,’ says Amy Nowacoski, a New York–based marketing strategist and knitter.”
“Nowacoski says that EcomCrew has either overlooked key concerns or made incorrect assumptions about the knitting community. First off, she says, the pair made the assumption that yarn is yarn — a fatal flaw in a yarn-based business.”
“What got knitters most riled up, however, was the stereotyping of their community. When discussing the pre-existing businesses and brands in the space, Jackness and Bryant said on the podcast that it was a few big creators sponsored by corporate brands and ‘everyone else is a grandma that has a little blog.’” READ MORE
Asian entrepreneurs are trying different ways to respond to online threats: “Dozens of artisanal food businesses like Fly By Jing — founded by women, immigrants or children of immigrants from East or Southeast Asia — have started over the past several years. They proudly sell items rooted in and inspired by their heritage, like jars of chili oil, spice blends, frozen dumplings, kimchi, imported coffee beans and teas, and ice cream. For many, a singular online personality helps to create a loyal and passionate consumer base. However, the same technology that allows a company to connect directly with customers can also bring a steady stream of hostility on social media feeds, in DMs and in email inboxes.”
“‘For so long our community has been defined by this model minority myth, of being quiet, or docile, or submissive,’ Kim Pham said, ‘and we really just wanted to give a middle finger to that.’”
“The founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply, Sahra Nguyen, has zero tolerance for trolls. ... ‘As a company, our policy is we don’t engage, we don’t respond,’ Ms. Nguyen said. ‘I don’t want my employees to enter a toxic environment.’” READ MORE
February’s jobs report came in strong:
Gas prices continue to surge: “Prices at the gas pump are soaring to near record levels across the U.S., threatening to further pressure consumers and an economy already struggling with sky-high inflation. On Sunday, the national average price for regular gasoline hit $4 a gallon, the highest price since July 2008, according to AAA. The week’s run-up was fueled by traders, shippers and financiers shunning Russian oil, removing millions of barrels of oil from global supplies.”
“‘Right now we are in a hyper-supply crunch’ for oil, said Claudio Galimberti, senior vice president of analysis at energy consultant Rystad Energy. ‘We are in a price crunch of historical proportions.’” READ MORE
Restaurants are split on whether to maintain mask mandates: “Some businesses, including Texas Roadhouse, the Cheesecake Factory, and Applebee’s, believe that there is a benefit for business and their workers when mask mandates are removed. The facial coverings are hot and uncomfortable to work in, and not having to put them on between bites and sips makes customers more motivated to dine out, Applebee’s President John Cywinski said Wednesday. Other restaurant operators said they feared alienating workers and diners by eliminating mask and vaccination requirement rules when allowed to do so. Some restaurant owners are still struggling to recruit enough staff to fully run their operations and worry that relaxing rules could scare off employees fearful about their health.”
“Dan Connor, co-owner of Donovan’s Pub in Woodside, N.Y., said most of his servers have stopped wearing masks since New York state dropped its facial-coverings mandate last month, but his kitchen crew are largely keeping them on out of health concerns.”
“Mr. Connor said he has been trying to hire another cook for months, and he is considering updating the ad to include that masks can still be worn to cater to workers worried about their health.”
“Women are twice as likely as men to agree that they will keep wearing facial coverings in indoor spaces even when no longer required, according to a poll of 1,005 adults last month by Lisa W. Miller & Associates, a consumer-research firm.”
“Restaurants are one of the venues where all respondents were most likely to feel frustrated to see customers not wearing masks, the poll found.” READ MORE
Attempts to make the face mask supply chain more resilient are failing: “Mike Bowen has spent much of the pandemic saying, ‘I told you so,’ and you can hardly blame him. Back in 2005, just as low-cost Chinese manufacturers were taking over the personal protective equipment industry, Bowen joined a friend who had started a small surgical mask company called Prestige Ameritech. The plan was to market his company’s masks to American hospitals and distributors as a way to provide resilience — a means of ensuring domestic supply if the supply chain ever broke down. ‘Every company had left America,’ he recalled recently. ‘The entire U.S. mask supply was under foreign control.’”
“He remembers warning customers, ‘If there’s a pandemic, we’re going to be in trouble.’”
“‘The cost savings was like crack cocaine for American hospitals,’ Mr. Bowen said.”
“Today, these small U.S. mask manufacturers are in dire straits — if they haven’t gone out of business already.” READ MORE
Hollywood is not painting a pretty picture of entrepreneurs: “Consider the new Showtime limited series ‘Super Pumped,’ which charts the rise and fall of the Uber founder Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). As Kalanick stomps across the tech scene, John Zimmer, the measured founder of rival Lyft, diagnoses Kalanick’s problem, and his superpower: “You’re not human enough.” ... In Hulu’s ‘The Dropout,’ Amanda Seyfried plays Elizabeth Holmes, the Theranos founder who dons a black turtleneck and pretends that she has developed technology that can diagnose ailments with a single drop of blood. In Apple TV+’s ‘WeCrashed,’ Jared Leto plays Adam Neumann, the weirdly shoeless WeWork founder who hustles a $47 billion valuation for a bunch of co-working spaces that he says constitute a global consciousness-raising movement.``
“Even ‘Inventing Anna,’ the Netflix series from Shonda Rhimes focusing on the SoHo grifter Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), feels sympatico.”
“Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, floats through the millennial start-up scene with her unplaceable European accent, bumping into the pharma bro Martin Shkreli and Billy McFarland, the Fyre Festival fraudster, as she tries (but mostly fails) to convince investors that she is a German heiress launching an exclusive club she has named after herself.”
“Within days of the arrests of Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, dubbed the ‘Bonnie and Clyde of Bitcoin’ and accused of a scheme to launder billions, the story had been optioned for a series.”
“It’s being developed by Forbes Entertainment, the production arm of the financial magazine which until recently allowed Morgan to pontificate on its website as a ForbesWomen columnist, offering her ‘expert advice to protect a company from cybercriminals.’” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Somebody’s Hiring All of These People: Jay Goltz tells Liz Picarazzi and Laura Zander that he’s had a revelation about The Great Resignation. Yes, he’s lost some people, but not necessarily his best people. “It shook the tree out,” he says, which is why he thinks businesses should be careful right now about hiring too quickly. Meanwhile, Liz talks about her latest product, a bear-proof trash enclosure, and why introducing it has been challenging. And Laura tells us what happened with the salesman she tried to send around the country in a souped-up van. Plus: Is this a great time or a terrible time to be in business?
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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