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Perhaps one of the greatest unsolved murder mysteries is that of the identity of the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer who was connected to at least five known murders between 1968 and 1969 in San Francisco.

Bettmann | Getty Images

The killer, who has remained unidentified, became infamous and an almost pop-culture phenomenon for the signature cryptic and coded letters and messages he or she would send to police and press after each killing.

But one cold-case investigative squad claims that over 50 years later, they’ve uncovered his identity.

The Case Breakers, an independent investigative team made up of former police officers, journalists and military intelligence, have identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste, a man who passed away in 2018.

The team reports that they’ve uncovered new evidence and photos from Poste’s darkroom (without going into specific detail) and cite scars on Poste’s forehead that are nearly identical to those on the proposed police sketch of the Zodiac Killer.

Former Army counterintelligence agent Jen Bucholtz also revealed that in one of the killer’s coded letters, removing Poste’s full name changes the code to reveal an “alternate message.”

“You’ve got to know Gary’s full name in order to decipher these anagrams,” Bucholtz told Fox News. “I just don’t think there’s any other way anybody would have figured it out.”

The Vallejo Police Department and the FBI had not yet responded to Fox News for comment.

The investigation of the Zodiac Killer still remains ongoing.

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When the global pandemic of 2020 struck, it changed everything. Business models established decades ago collapsed. Novel demand segments were born overnight. The transition into a hybrid and digital world of work accelerated at an unprecedented pace. As did the need for better work-life balance. 

A lack of work-life balance is not a new problem for organizations; we’ve been struggling with it for decades. We’ve put yoga rooms in offices. We’re on top of employee healthcare perks. We’ve even reimbursed team members for ergonomic chairs for their home offices. But has this been enough? 

Despite all that you might have done as a leader, I’m almost certain that much of your organization still struggles with work-induced anxiety and leading a well-rounded life. Perhaps you struggle with it yourself. I know what you’re probably thinking. As a senior executive or entrepreneur, you are responsible for both: the dividends of your shareholders and the wellbeing of your teams. This duality is fairly incongruous and not one easily resolved. I understand because I’ve been in your shoes. To make matters worse, given the recent economic turmoil, you need to get your numbers out of the red while helping your employees thrive. You’ve tried having Zoom meetings early in the morning to motivate your teams. You’ve asked for timesheets to be filled in after office hours so that work isn’t interrupted. But none of this is really helping.

Why are we unable to help our colleagues with better work-life balance and better lifestyles? Why do we keep advocating “smart” work and yet keep expecting them to work harder? Where are we going wrong? With such extraordinary innovation possible with tech, do we need to entirely reimagine the world of work for the new digital age?

Our journey at Fluid began with such questions. It began by trying to zero in on the problem and with a deep dive into the current landscape of digital work and project management. 

Related: Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

The problem: many tools, many gaps 

I was always cognizant of doing all I could to help my colleagues work smart. I ensured I was on top of the best project management, productivity and communication tools available and I found no dearth of fantastic applications. We had Microsoft Projects to write our plans on. We had Excel to build and track revenue projections. We had Asana to create milestones and delegate work. And Trello to make various project boards. We used Zoom and Loom to communicate. And of course, there was PowerPoint for all those pitch decks and investor updates. 

The issue? All our tools for creating, delegating, and managing projects across teams were disparate and siloed. There were files scattered across laptops, different programs being used for different purposes by different teams, and our managers were trying to stay on top of it all while finding ways to justify where all their team’s time was going. It was disheartening to see that more often than not, the firm’s focus was on managing items of work rather than the actual work that would drive us forward. 

I understood the problem: Despite the abundance of programs from the strongest players in the industry, the solutions couldn’t speak to each other, and work still hadn’t become easier, faster, or better. Until this could happen, until work could become truly smarter, a better work-life balance could not be achieved. We now knew exactly what Fluid would do.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s possible that you think you’ve identified a problem for which you can design a solution. Or if you’re a decision-maker at a large organization, it’s likely that your team comes to you with managerial or productivity problems every day. In either case, from my experience, one more tool or standalone application is never the answer. At best, it’s a short-term fix. You want to dig in and get to the root of the matter. You want to think holistically. Why are people struggling? Is there one problem, or several inter-related ones? Is there a systemic flaw? Before you can arrive at designing or investing in any solution, you want to first ensure you’ve really understood the crux of your problem. 

Related: Defining Problems: The Most Important Business Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

The solution: one all-encompassing and transparent work ecosystem 

In building Fluid, we were very clear about the value we wanted to offer. We wanted to leverage tech to create a platform onto which an entire organization could log on, and never have to leave. We’d give them everything they would need in one place. Fluid provides users space to work on projects, collaborate and communicate with colleagues, and attend meetings. It equips project managers with a top-down view. No more manual PowerPoint reports for meetings. No more running around finding the agenda. No more writing minutes. Everything’s automated. Everything’s seamless. Everyone can focus on their work as opposed to their administrative tasks.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my journey is that for any entrepreneur or innovator, maintaining an obsessive focus on providing value is crucial. It keeps you from thinking in terms of expenses, revenue models, competitors, and investors, and focused on the real answers for the real problem. It encourages you to reiterate till you have something truly innovative. It prevents you from finding solutions that are divorced from the actual gap in the market. Always maintain value for clients as your north star, and you won’t be lost.

Related: Four Ways To Give Your Customers Value

Building a people-first approach changes everything 

Any entrepreneur’s or leader’s foremost responsibility is to take care of his or her people. There are many ways to do this, but the best way is to promote transparency. Involve all your team members in business-level updates. Let them know they’re a part of a larger vision. Talk to them about their dreams and the emotions that go with them. Ask for feedback and truly listen. No matter how glaring the gap in the market and how innovative your solution, putting people first (and encouraging them to put clients first) will take you to far greater heights, than putting your product first will ever do. Think about the waves you could help make by truly putting your people first, working a better day, and living a better life.

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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are suffering the longest of their service interruptions on record, a drop that would be affecting millions of users around the world.

Why did Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger go down?

It’s not uncommon for Facebook to have localized outages, but with nearly 3 billion monthly users, it is strange that it has global “blackouts.”

According to the Ars Technica site, significant DNS flaws were found on Facebook. The Domain Name System is the service that translates human-readable host names (like to raw numeric IP addresses (like 19.223.456.245). Without a functional DNS, a computer basically does not know how to reach the servers that host the website it is looking for. However, the site mentions, Instagram also went down and its DNS services, which are hosted on Amazon. So at the moment we only have many theories and few answers.

This is what we know so far:

+ Since 11 in the morning in the American continent, WhatsApp users on both iPhone and Android have not been able to communicate through messages, calls or video conferences.

+ The technology reporter of the New York Times , Sheera Frenkel, reported that some Facebook employees have not been able to enter the buildings of the social network due to an interruption in internal services.

+ When trying to access Facebook through the browser, users receive a domain error message, while Instagram and WhatsApp do not load new posts or allow new searches.

+ Facebook posted a message to users using another social media platform, Twitter, at 12:22 p.m. on Monday.

“We are aware that some people have problems accessing our applications and products,” the company wrote from its official account. “We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

+ The Instagram PR team posted a similar message on the official Instagram Comms Twitter account.

“Instagram and your friends are having a bit of a difficult time right now, and you may have trouble using them,” the tweet read. “Bear with us, we’re on it! #Instagramdown.”

+ The site for detecting service interruptions in web pages detected interruptions in densely populated areas such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, London and Paris.


+ According to Euronews , Internet users who use their Facebook credentials to access third-party services, such as Pokemon Go, have also not been able to access due to lack of connection.

+ On September 13, the Wall Street Journal published a series of stories in which it revealed that Facebook was ‘aware’ of the problems that its products caused, such as the damage of Instagram to the mental health of adolescents and misinformation on topics such as the Covid-19 or the riots presented in the United States Capitol in early 2021.

+ Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product engineer, came out this morning as the insider leaked numerous internal documents last week. He accused the company of “choosing profit over safety.”

+ On Wall Street, Facebook’s stock price fell nearly 6 percent to cut its value by $ 50 billion. For this reason, in just a few hours, Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth was reduced by almost $ 7 billion .

In a moment more information …

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In 2021, what you can’t afford as an entrepreneur is not having a presence online. In particular, what you must have is a professional website. 

This might sound silly and obvious, yet, there are many entrepreneurs and businesses out there who either don’t have a website or don’t take care of their online presence, they developed their website ten years ago and it hasn’t been upgraded since then.

Even if you do have a website, you need to make it visible and authoritative, it needs to attract customers and, ideally, also do better than the websites of your competitors.

To give you a real-life analogy, ranking on search engines has the same effect as the location of a physical store in a town. Even if you do have the best window display imaginable, if nobody is going past your shop, they are never going to know about you. Where your website is concerned, think more “high street” than “side street.”

Your website has one major thing in common with a successful store, they both need lots of traffic (visitors).

So, how do you get to improve your ranking on the likes of Google, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, etc.? The first step is to understand what the most important search engine ranking factors are.

The Most Important Ranking Factors:

  • Backlinks: the number of links you have from other websites. In particular, what actually influences how your website ranks is the number of domains pointing to it.
  • On-Page SEO: as Moz explains, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.
  • The Quality of Your Content: high-quality content provides a better user experience, and this is why it ranks better on Google. Did you know that the longer a person stays on a web page, the higher your website will rank? Google reckons that the longer someone stays on a website, the better the website must be, and it is trying desperately to provide quality search engine results.
  • Page Speed: how quickly a page loads to users.

Once you know how ranking works, you can start working on optimizing your website.

What follows are the things you can do to increase your visibility online and attract more clients.

Start Blogging

The best thing you can do to attract traffic  — and potential clients —  to your website is consistently putting out high-quality articles.

Show your expertise in your field through your content, show your potential customers you can solve their problem and make your content visible. They will eventually knock on your door.

Do Keyword Research

In order to increase your visibility, you need to know which are the most common terms used to search for products or services that you offer. If your article ranks high for one or more popular keywords, you will receive increased organic (natural, not forced) traffic.

To find the most popular keywords around the topics you know about, you can use several tools. 

Personally, to do keyword research the only tools I use are Google Trends and the Ubersuggest Chrome Extension. They are free and very easy to use.

If I see that a keyword is popular and the SD (SEO difficulty) is not too high, I write an article around it and optimize it. The SD is a metric that tells you from 1 to 100 how difficult it is to compete for a certain keyword.

If you use WordPress, make sure to install the free version of the Yoast plugin, as it helps you optimize your content around your chosen keywords and improve its readability.

Use keywords naturally in the content and don’t try to overload the text with the keyword(s) — search engines no longer use density of keyword use as a metric. The best places to put keywords are in the main heading of the article, in a few of the paragraph headings, and just a sprinkling throughout the actual text.

Create a Plan

In order to have more visibility, you need to have a content plan. For example, if you are a personal development coach, you need to find keywords with a high-volume search around these topics that will interest your potential clients, and then create interesting, easily read articles that target those keywords (800 words is a good length for a blog post).

In other words, the keywords you target should be the phrases your potential clients will use to search on Google.

You can also target a group of keywords with one single post. I use Excel, as it’s the best tool to annotate everything you need, to organize a blog post around a group of keywords.

Focus on On-page SEO

Once you have written one or more articles, you have to make sure they are all well optimized to appear in search results.

Here’s a quick reminder of what you should check has been done before publishing a post:

  • The keyword you chose should be included in the URL, better if the slug corresponds to the keyword. For example, if the keyword is how to be confident, the URL should be something like:
  • Make sure the keyword appears in the first paragraph of the article;
  • It should also be included in the title, better if you include it at the beginning;
  • The keyword should be included in some of the subheadings;
  • Make sure the keyword is included in the alt text of the featured image.

If you have the Yoast plugin, you will automatically see a checklist at the end of your article.

Build Backlinks

When people link to your webpages, these will be more likely to rank high on search engines.

To build backlinks, the best things you can do are writing high-quality content, so that people want to link to it, and guest blogging.

Guest blogging on authoritative websites is the best form of building backlinks to start receiving more traffic on your own website.

For example, my website is about personal development and relationships, and I have guest posts on platforms such as Thrive Global and Plenty of Fish. 

This helped some of my articles rank on the first page of Google for several popular keywords, and all this happened just a few months after launching my website.

Avoid Black-Hat SEO Like the Plague

While white-hat SEO practices — such as guest blogging, keyword optimization and actively participating in forums without spamming other users — are completely legitimate, black-hat techniques aren’t.

Black-hat SEO practices may work really well to rank higher. With one caveat, they only work in the short term as they go against the Google Webmaster Guidelines. 

In the long term they may damage the credibility and authority of your website, because Google has several algorithms which are designed to detect black-hat methods and penalize the websites that engage in those practices.

Now you might ask: “Ok Sira, but what are some examples of black-hat SEO?”

Here are a few examples of black-hat practices: 

  • Buying backlinks;
  • Keyword stuffing, that is filling your content with your target keyword so that the text sounds unnatural;
  • Auto-generated or spun content with backlinks pointing to your site;
  • Spamming forums with backlinks pointing to your website.

WARNING — If Google does catch you using black-hat techniques to improve your website ranking, it will penalize you by dropping your ranking way down and, no matter how much you then try to improve your ranking, it won’t make any difference. Many businesses have been ruined by using black hat SEO.

Convert Your Readers Into Clients

The most important step is to convert your readers into clients. That’s why you started to create content, right?

There are several ways you can do this. In particular, some of the most common  — and effective  — methods are the following:

  • Add a call to action at the end of your article, for example inviting the reader to schedule a call with you;
  • Create a pop up to collect your readers email, and then promote your product or service though a newsletter;
  • Promote your products or services in the sidebars or throughout the article.

Attracting organic traffic to your website and converting users to clients is not easy, and it’s a long-term journey. You need a lot of patience. However, if you do it the right way, with love and a lot of dedication, you can definitely outsmart your competitors and really grow your little empire into a massive one.

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Many of us have this memory of our student days: We had 20 pesos left to eat with which we bought a Coca-Cola and an instant Maruchan soup with lemon and Valentina sauce.

Caro_navajas vía Twitter

The Federal Consumer Prosecutor’s Office ( Profeco ) announced this Friday that it could withdraw from the market some of the instant soup brands that exist in Mexico because they have a low nutritional contribution and, on the contrary, are highly caloric (they contribute between 270 to 334 kilocalories per serving ) and contain excess sodium.

The Profeco Consumer Magazine announced that in its next issue it will publish the result of the quality study it carried out on 33 brands. At the moment it is still unknown which are the soups whose sale will be prohibited, but these products are incredibly popular since for many young students or professionals they represent an inexpensive and fast alternative to food.

And because the Mexican Internet users are Mexican , they expressed their discontent through social networks through memes and humor.

Many Twitter users, for example, criticized the want to remove a food from the market, while other potentially more harmful products such as cigarettes and alcohol continue to have free sale.

This is not the first time that Profeco has tested popular noodle soups like this. In August he had pointed out that this food can cause headaches, suffocation, numbness in the mouth and even tachycardia due to its high amount of monosodium glutamate.

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This story originally appeared on The Epoch Times

Results from a clinical trial show that Merck’s antiviral pill for COVID-19 is effective, the company said Friday.

The antiviral, molnupiravir, cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half for adults who were deemed at risk but not hospitalized, according to a planned interim analysis of the trial.

Compared to the 14.1 percent of patients who received placebos, 7.3 percent of trial participants who received the drug were hospitalized through day 29, the company and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said.

Eight people died in the placebo group and zero did in the group given molnupiravir.

Based on the findings, Merck plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon for emergency use authorization for its drug.

“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic,” Robert Davis, Merck’s CEO and president, said in a statement.

“We are very encouraged by the results from the interim analysis and hope molnupiravir, if authorized for use, can make a profound impact in controlling the pandemic,” added Wendy Holman, the CEO of Ridgeback.

The drug works by inhibiting the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus is known as SARS-CoV-2 or the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. So far, the only drugs authorized to treat COVID-19 are monoclonal antibodies, which run over $2,000 each and take more time to administer than a pill. However, clinical trials on drugs approved for other uses, including the antidepressant fluvoxamine, have shown promise against the disease.

The molnupiravir trial analysis evaluated data from 775 patients who had laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. None had received a COVID-19 vaccine. The phase 3 trial was meant to enroll 1,550 patients, but enrollment was stopped at the recommendation of a Data Monitoring Committee in consultation with the FDA. The trial was conducted at sites around the world, including in the United States. Full results have not yet been released. Merck did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

The company did say that the analysis found an incidence of adverse events comparable between the groups, with 35 percent of participants getting its drug experiencing an event and 40 percent of the placebo group experiencing an event. The incidence of adverse events described as being related to the drug was similar between the groups.

Merck has already been producing doses of molnupiravir in anticipation of the results from the trial and projects to produce 10 million courses by the end of the year. The United States earlier this year agreed to buy approximately 1.7 million doses upon emergency authorization or approval from U.S. drug regulators. Each course, which involves multiple pills, will cost the government $705 if the agreement kicks in.

Dr. Walid Gellad, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine, said the antiviral would be “a game changer” and urged the FDA to prioritize granting it authorization.

Other experts noted that the data has not been peer reviewed but said the results appeared encouraging.

Two other companies are also racing to develop antiviral pills against COVID-19.

Pfizer launched two trials of its oral drug last month while Roche is also studying its version. 

By Zachary Stieber


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.

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A groundbreaking interactive series featuring companies that are letting viewers Click-to-Invest while they watch.

4 min read

Brought to you by Going Public

When a company goes public, the average investor generally can’t invest before the IPO. That’s often reserved for institutional investors — leaving the everyday American to invest afterwards. But that’s about to change — thanks to a groundbreaking new show debuting on on October 19th. Watch the world premiere trailer by clicking here
Going Public® is the first interactive series where viewers can Click-to-Invest in featured deals while they watch. This series follows the stories of entrepreneurs on their capital raising journey as they launch their public offerings. Combining elements of popular show formats like Shark Tank and American Idol, the viewer can now play an active role by deciding whether to invest while they watch.

The companies featured on Going Public will actually launch live investment campaigns and give viewers access to the deals. This means that if you watch the show and believe in one of the entrepreneurs you see, you can participate in their public offering.

More About the Show

Going Public is the brainchild of Todd M. Goldberg and Darren Marble, co-founders of Crush Capital, Inc., a pioneering new entertainment company operating at the intersection of fintech and capital markets. The show is being produced by Emmy-nominated studio INE Entertainment, whose previous reality-show credits include The Biggest Loser and MasterChef.

Companies on the show will utilize a capital raising tool known as Regulation A, made possible by JOBS Act of 2012. This is what enables regular viewers to invest in their public offerings.

Regulation A+ or “Reg. A+” is a securities registration exemption that allows companies to raise up to $75 million, market their deal broadly, and permits anyone over the age of 18 globally to legally invest. 

Reg A+ was designed to both democratize access to capital for emerging businesses, and to level the playing field for retail investors.

Season 1 of Going Public will follow three companies who will be offering real-time investment opportunities to the viewers. That’s one of the reasons we partnered with The stars of this show are the diverse cast of entrepreneurs themselves. Going Public chronicles their journey as they launch their public offerings to viewers who can now Click-to-Invest, while they watch.

Television viewers aren’t new to interactive shows. From American Idol to Big Brother, where the fate of a contestant or cast member rests with the audience, viewers have enjoyed playing a role in the outcome of these shows. That’s one of the main reasons why you won’t see Going Public on broadcast television. The uniqueness of the real-time opportunity is a key disruptor of this older television format. American Idol pioneered “Text-to-Vote,” and Going Public is pioneering “Click-to-Invest” in this high-caliber, business-entertainment meets capital-markets docuseries.

Who You’ll See

The show’s first season is hosted by Lauren Simmons, the youngest-ever female trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and only the second Black woman to have ever held such a role.
The entrepreneurs featured on the show include TREBEL, whose mission is to bring premium music to five billion consumers for free; PROVEN Skincare, which is revolutionizing skincare with personalization, big data, and AI; and Hammitt, an emerging player in the prestige handbag market. Each company is attempting to capture a share of extremely competitive industries where there are few dominant players including Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) Unilever (NYSE: UL) and Coach (NYSE: TPR).

Throughout the show, the featured entrepreneurs will meet with mentors who provide them with tough love and priceless leadership advice. These people include Jeff Hoffman, Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and Executive Producer of Going Public; Jaime Schmidt of Schmidt Naturals; and Josh Snow of Snow Oral Care.

To watch Going Public, just visit on October 19th. Watch the world premiere trailer by clicking here!


Securities offered by Dalmore Group LLC, member of FINRA (, member of SIPC (

With respect to Hammitt, please see Offering Circular here.

With respect to PROVEN, please see Offering Circular here.
With respect to TREBEL, please see Offering Circular here.

Disclosure Regarding Going Public and the role of Crush Capital: Click here.
17(b) Disclaimer: Click here.

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This story originally appeared on The Epoch Times

Dollar Tree, known for selling $1 items, will start testing higher price points in what it’s calling a “multi-price evolution” driven by a combination of customer demand and inflation.

The company, which operates over 15,000 stores across the United States and Canada, said in a Sept. 28 release that customers have welcomed the rollout of Dollar Tree Plus and Combo store formats, which offer items at higher price points.

“For decades, our customers have enjoyed the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ for value at one dollar—and we remain committed to that core proposition—but many are telling us that they also want a broader product assortment when they come to shop,” the company’s chief executive, Michael Witynski, said in a statement.

While the company’s press release made no mention of inflation, Witynski told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that higher costs— including materials, wages, shipping—were also a factor.

Investors welcomed the announcement, with Dollar Tree Inc. shares shooting up around 15 percent on the news.

“Our brand promise is that customers get great value for what they spend at Dollar Tree,” Witynski said. “We will continue to be fiercely protective of that promise, regardless of the price point, whether it is $1.00, $1.25, $1.50.”

With the announcement, Dollar Tree has become the latest retailer to look at passing on at least some of the rising costs to customers.

Costco’s chief executive recently estimated the average price inflation of the goods the retailer is selling to fall in the 3.5–4.5 percent range, though the high cost of plastics and resins led some items—like trash bags and plastic cups—to go up by as much as 11 percent.

Surging prices have been a headline theme amid the economic recovery, rising faster than wages and eroding the purchasing power of Americans.

Core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation, which excludes the volatile categories of food and fuel and is the Fed’s preferred gauge for price growth, has risen sharply in recent months, well above the central bank’s 2 percent target.

In April of this year, core PCE was 3.1 percent, rising to 3.5 percent by May and 3.6 percent in June and July, the latest months of available data from the Commerce Department.

While Fed officials have expressed concern about price pressures, they predict that the high rate of inflation is a transitory phenomenon. Still, they acknowledge there’s a risk that price pressures will be stickier than previously anticipated.

New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said Monday that consumer expectations for what the rate of inflation will be several years down the road remain “well-anchored” around the Fed’s 2 percent objective, though he said there are upside risks and a “great deal of uncertainty” around the inflationary outlook. 

By Tom Ozimek


Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’

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This story was originally published on CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was written by Mark Hamstra.

Mega brands including Hot Wheels, Barbie and Looney Tunes are forging licensing collaborations that align with social causes and tap into the hot digital collectibles market — trends that businesses of all sizes can monetize, too: That’s because they’re courting younger audiences via the buying triggers shaping how they shop for toys to T-shirts today, executives said at the 2021 Licensing Expo attended by CO—.

Dr. Seuss and NFTs: ‘This is a whole new way of interpreting the characters’

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, for example, is preparing to roll out its first NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which are limited-edition or one-of-a-kind digital works of art that have rapidly become collectors’ items, and are particularly popular among young consumers. They are traded on digital networks and such as Ethereum and often bought and sold using cryptocurrencies.

“We are jumping in in a big way with our characters,” said Susan Brandtpresident, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which publishes the popular children’s books featuring characters such as The Grinch and Horton the Elephant. “This is a whole new way of interpreting the characters.”

Likewise, Mattel recently unveiled Hot Wheels NFT Garage, which is a line of NFTs leveraging the toy company’s iconic toy car brand. The line debuted with three one-of-a-kind digital versions of popular Hot Wheels cars that Mattel auctioned off this summer.

“We put a lot of thinking into it,” said Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer at Mattel, who noted that it was the company’s first foray into the NFT space.

Robert Marick, executive vice president of global consumer products and experiences at MGM, said consumer interest in NFT collectibles “opens up a whole new world of collaborations” for licensors.

“I am excited to see what that morphs into in the years to come,” he said.

Similarly, he said MGM properties such as the James Bond movie franchise also lend themselves to digital formats popular with young consumers, such as video games. Getting a licensed brand into a video game tends to have a ripple effect, spilling over into other licensing opportunities in the form of new products and experiences.

Related: Google, Walmart’s Outdoor Chain, QVC and More on Turning Inspiration Into Innovation

Aligning with social causes: Recycled plastic Barbie hits shelves

Brands are also reaching consumers by focusing on social causes, such as sustainability and diversity.

Barbie, for example, recently launched its first doll made from recycled plastic, called Barbie Loves the Ocean, supported by the tag line, “The future of green is pink.”

Millennials and Gen Z are attracted to brands that demonstrate a purpose, said Dickson of Mattel, which owns the Barbie franchise.

“Our brands have been purpose-built right from the start,” he said, noting that the company’s corporate values around diversity and inclusion are also woven into the stories of each of its brands.

Dr. Seuss also lends itself to tie-ins with social causes, said Brandt, citing the success of the company’s partnership with sustainable clothing brand Tentree and the Dr. Seuss book, “The Lorax,” about a character who “speaks for the trees” against forces that would destroy them.

The partnership has generated millions of social media impressions, she said, keeping the Dr. Seuss character front-and-center among consumers interested in sustainability.

Related: Not Just Skin Deep: Marketers From CVS to Startup Geenie Take on Mental Wellness in the Beauty Aisle

Expanding e-commerce via DTC ventures

As they lean into trends, licensors are also expanding their reach through direct-to-consumer (DTC) platforms, although they have to tread carefully to avoid conflict with their brick-and-mortar and e-commerce partners, executives said.

Mattel, for example, has established a new DTC brand called Mattel Creations that features limited-edition collectibles. The goal of such DTC ventures is to complement the offerings of other retailers, said Dickson.

Similarly, Warner Bros. also has its own DTC e-commerce and retail channels, but works closely with its retail partners to understand their customers.

“We lean into what the retailer wants in terms of what they see as the bigger opportunities,” said Pam Lifford, president, WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences.

Data analytics are key to ensuring that licensed products appeal to the specific consumer demographics of each individual retailer, she said.

“It’s not just important for us to understand who our customer is, it’s also important for us to understand who is walking into the Walmart environment and the Target environment, and understanding what their needs are, and then bringing those two things together,” said Lifford.

Case in point: Licensed product related to the Looney Tunes-themed movie Space Jam: A New Legacy, has been a strong success, she said.

Warner Bros., which owns the Looney Tunes and Space Jam franchises, worked closely with LeBron James, the pro basketball player who is the star of the most recent incarnation of the movie property, along with his sneaker partner, Nike. (The new movie comes 25 years after former pro basketball player Michael Jordan launched the first hit Space Jam movie in partnership with Warner Bros. and Looney Tunes.)

“The fact that that we showed up in all the right places at the right time, integrated with the right [intellectual property] — it’s pretty special,” said Lifford.

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How often do you reinvent yourself? Sometimes we do it automatically and sometimes because the environment forces us. The COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly one of those times when we had to restart various systems and paradigms that we were used to.

Prateek Katyal vía Unsplash

And, although, little by little the reactivation begins, we can still find events completely online that we can attend from anywhere on the planet and hybrids that combine the best of both worlds.

In this context, on October 13 and 14 the hybrid version of Social Media Week Mexico 2021 will be held , which seeks to generate dialogue between digital leaders and the audience around the theme “REINVENTION”.

Image: Courtesy of SMWMexico.

Right now we are in the midst of a great reinvention of both society and business and ourselves personally. Importantly, systems undergo a stress test.

“All the systems come from public health, education, government infrastructure, business and, also marketing, and in 2020/21, many of these systems failed or collided with their own arrogance,” the experts explain.

According to the spokesmen of Social Media Week Mexico, some of the failures of the marketing system are:

  • Focus on the tactic and forget the strategic truths
  • The short-term view of looking at short-term profits
  • Exalting any trend or the most striking thing in social networks
  • Don’t think of smart data more than big data
  • The inability of marketers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and lead with empathy.

During the pandemic, many brand messages were inconsistent and many leaders, completely out of their comfort zone in the way of marketing, and there was a disconnect vacuum with their audience.

According to experts, some of the brands that did stand out in this situation were Postmates, P&G, Clorox, Aviation Gin and Airbnb, since their brand values, their leadership, and their messages were previously aligned to something bigger than themselves. .

So we ask ourselves: how should marketers reinvent themselves and respond to the challenges of our time?

Crises bring inventions and this is achieved through constructive resilience. But what should be invented and what should be reinvented?

In her October 2020 article ” The ABCDE of Marketing Re-Invented “, Rishad Tobacawala addresses this question by developing a framework on how marketing has changed and how it is changing in the future.

  • A = Audience
  • B = Brand
  • C = Content
  • D = Data
  • E = Company.

By adapting to the ABCDE framework for reinvention, the organizers of Social Media Week Global drew up a list of questions that represent priority areas that we can or should focus on:

  • Audiences: How can we think of people and not consumers?
  • The brand: How should experience and purpose influence brand strategy?
  • The content: It has always been the key to marketing, but now there are trends in TikTok and IG Reels minute by minute, there are new ways to do it, faster and cheaper, so how do we break through the noise?
  • Data : How can we focus on quality versus quantity?
  • Company: A current company that wants to survive must show transparent information and decision-making and its leaders must be responsible. How do we empower people and inspire leaders?

Where does this reinvention begin?

Of course, like many change processes, reinvention begins with recognizing what does not work, asking ourselves difficult and important questions, and willing to accept the transformation, no matter how expensive or uncomfortable it may feel in the first place. This will allow anyone to survive and walk into the future.

It is time to reevaluate and rebuild systems that lead to a less divisive, more transparent and just world.

To participate in #SMWMexico during 2021, check their Social Media Week Mexico City page or follow them on social networks where you find them as SMWMexico Fanpage.

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