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Networking

The Human Capital Institute shared on a post that workplace loneliness is on the rise, citing a study conducted by Edelman and Cigna, in 2019, 45.7% of American workers reported feeling lonely at work. This is up from 44% in 2018.

In a study on Cigna US Loneliness Index, the numbers are even higher for Gen Z, workers aged 18-22, of whom 73% report sometimes or always feeling alone, up from 69% a year ago (Source: CNBC).

Ju Ming sculpture in Buona Vista, Singapore

Why is it a concern?

According to Cigna CEO David Cordani, disconnections show up in other mental health issues such as depression or stress. Many young people feel that there is no one to turn to at the workplace whether it is to have a coffee or chill.

What can I do?

Make suggestions for workplace connecting. Build trust and fun activity that colleagues can do together to break the ice. I recall my colleagues in France bring a cake to office to chill. We in Singapore took turns to bring breakfast to work. My younger colleagues brought breakfast from their culture such as putu mayam, bought from the hawker centre across the street.

Trust and connections take time to build. We are all waiting for someone to reach out and make the first move. Why not make the first move?

If you are a worplace manager, consider what you can do to improve workplace culture. Hint: Open office layout and “work from home” are not solutions to lower loneliness at work. More suggestions.

How about setting a challenge for yourself and make the first move?

Share with me your thoughts in the comments below.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/23/loneliness-is-rising-younger-workers-and-social-media-users-feel-it-most.html

Even as tech conferences in the US are getting cancelled because of the coronavirus, others are debating the value of in-person conferences. Their utility is not just a way to exchange information on platforms. “There’s something about meeting someone face to face, and also the serendipity that can happen, that just can’t be replicated in a remote way,” says Guilherme Rambo, an independent app developer from Brazil. “When you’re at a tech conference, you’ll meet people who work for the companies you’re a customer of, the people who make the apps you enjoy using, and sometimes business deals . . . are made. [Quote from Fast Company]

What can I do with the downtime? Pause and rebrand. Are you ready to join me for a 30 day Networking Sprint?

Day 1: Come up with positive adjectives, strengths and weakness that describe me
Day 2: Draft my personal brand statement. Update my Linkedin account.

Day 3: Come up with 5 ice breakers. Identify an area of professional interest.

Day 4: Bring my closest friends to lunch and ask positive adjectives that describe me. Likewise, compliment them. Ideas Party.

Day 5: Start my daily list of 10 thanksgiving items. Creative positive energy. List causes* I may contribute to. (UN 17 SDG for 2030)

Day 6: List my rewards or motivators on challenge. (Positive energy)

Day 7: Rest Day, Reflection

Day 8: Write home call home (parents, siblings), plan next family gathering. If not convenient, send positive thoughts and thank them in mind. Send postcard. Show you care.

Day 9: Start my project of saying hello to a different colleague or classmate everyday for 30 days. Ask: what are you working on? What’s a trend that may bother you? What’s a skill you wish you had time to pick up?

Day 10: Update my Linkedin account.

Day 11: Join a public speaking group such as toastmasters in my area.

Day 12: Join a group in my professional interest. Bring someone.

Day 13: Deep Dive: Attend a class to learn new skill (physical or virtual). Bring someone.

Day 14: Rest Day, Reflection

Day 15: Identify a new person to start a personal friendship group. What help can I offer? Show you care.

Day 16: Deep Dive: Borrow and Read 5 latest books affecting my areas of interest, be it Professional/ Personal. (One new book a month)

Day 17: Coffee with former internship supervisor or colleagues. Thank them for helping you in the past. Show you care.

Day 18: Keep in touch with (one) classmate from past. Reminisce the happy moments. Repeat with different person next cycle.

Day 19: Sign up for a talk in area of interest.

Day 20: Join a group of personal interest, faith or hobby, eg. Mahjong or tennis

Day 21: Rest Day, Reflection – list 10 topics I have collected from conversations.

Day 22: Start a blog, write my first article. Share.

Day 23: Volunteer for a cause*. Teach a class probono.

Day 24: Congratulate a friend. Show you care.

Day 25: Rest Day, Reflection

Day 26: Publish my first post on social media.

Day 27: Celebrate friend’s birthday or anything worth celebrating!

Day 28: Compliment a service staff (stranger). Post it on company website.

Day 29: Celebrate with loved one! Care for self.

Day 30: Repeat cycle for next 30 days.

Share:

What’s your favourite app to locate networking events?

Some months back, I asked Mr L if he would join me for a lunch catch up with a mutual ex-colleague, Mr T. We have not met in 14 years. Mr L was busy being angry about everything, his former employer, his PHd application being rejected by XYZ University.

Fast forward to June, I found out that if Mr L had joined me for lunch with Mr T, he could have walked his way into a job vacancy in Mr T’s company.

Is this how Krumboltz’s Happenstance works? Sometimes opportunities whiz by and miss us because we are engrossed in the past.

Lesson learnt today.

As an IJ, unplanned meetings drain me. But think of the exciting future that awaits you from the little step you take.

One of the things I missed about being self employed is not having colleagues to try out new lunch venues or chill at tea, “whatsup” catching up with office gossip, and especially the learning workshops we were forced to attend. And the travelling. Which was quite fun, since it was only 10%, in my work – no budget. The free newspapers, so essential to keeping up with research and client information.

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While I enjoy managing my own time, minimal department meetings, no office politics (I still have a boss. My clients are my boss.), there is a downside to being a free lancer/ gig economy worker/ self employed. Lonely. Iron sharpens iron. (Confessions of an introvert.)

How do freelancers thrive in the future of work?

NTUC has set up a chapter for Free lancers and self employed, check out their facebook.

There will be an upcoming 2 day workshop to equip free lancers with digital skills, considering that coaches can still be paid through cash, app, and internet banking.

Step One: Company Name and type of work

First, think of a name for your company and register it with the government. Set up an ACRA account. Its not difficult. https://www.acra.gov.sg/

How do you use your time wisely as a tennis coach, if classes are cancelled on a rainy day?

Today, many of the younger generation prefer to be self employed. Digital tools have made it possible.

Step Two: Join NTUC FSE

Join a community. Why? Social, getting ideas, learn something. Example, how to pitch yourself?

There are a number of associations to join:

Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals
Screenwriters Association (Singapore)
IoTalents for online and IT workforce
Caregiver Asia
Creatives at Work (CAW) for media freelancers
Tueetoer (for free lance tutors)

Step three: Market yourself

Get a professionally done photograph, nothing fancy, but very presentable @ caregivers asia. You can check out the photographs done for their freelance caregivers. Joel Tam.

You can start a Facebook, Instagram or even Blog. Register with a number of providers like Fiverr, Upwork, Tueetor etc.

72 Best Freelance Jobs Websites to Get Remote Freelance Work (Fast)

You can create a podcast with your mobile or a youtube video.

For a lady who does storytelling for children. She was articulating the benefits of her course. Learning while playing. Joel articulated that her blog could include a simple Powtoons tip of the day for parents, “Three things your child can play while learning without realising.”

Even creating Infographics. I especially like the tip of how Joel broke into writing reviews for cars. He took a photograph of his own car and sent it to major automotive brands. Wow. Such a simple and impactful idea. Sometimes, just talking to someone who has done it, helps break down the “barriers in our head”.

Many of the self employed entrepreneurs I discovered, wear multiple hats and have multiple streams of income. Joel is Marketing Director at Caregivers as well as Care review etc.

Recognise that you need T-shaped skills. Deep expertise, applied to different businesses.

An important tip he shared was, if you have 70,000 followers on your Instagram account, but they are not in your target market, then you may want to start afresh. Localise your content. Especially for freelancers working towards a local clientele.

Step 4: How do you hook clients with a strong pitch?

In your self introduction, dont just talk about ideas. Talk about yourself as an idea. Your transformational journey, eg from a chemical engineer to a muay thai instructor, and how those little bits of you are combined to make you who you are today.

Not just another mindfulness instructor, but a sports coach who combines mindfulness in the journey.

What are three superhero characteristics you bring, from your life journey?

I was a _________. (Painpoint: A conflict I felt _________. I decided to ________. The pivot helped me _____________.

So what are you waiting for?

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Close to my Chinese roots, my mother put in a lot of effort to find my Chinese name, it means the bell that rings at dawn because I was born pre-dawn. Embeded in my name is my mother’s hope for me. Wisdom, riches, beauty, fame, peace are the typical aspirations. Every Chinese knows this tradition, and in some families, we even choose characters that reveal your position in the family tree.

Yet when it comes to getting an English name, many Chinese/ Taiwanese / Hong Kong Chinese would choose names like Noodle, Rock etc and we puzzle at the quirkiness.

Not so, a young British girl. Beau Jessup. She is making more than $300,000 and funding her way through college by naming Chinese babies. As founder and CEO of Special Name, a website designed to provide Chinese parents with culturally appropriate English names for their babies.

How did she come up with the idea?

Jessup was inspired to start the business in 2015, when she was just 15. She has since named a total of 677,900.

Empathise- A chance encounter

Jessup was traveling with her father in China, when a business contact, a Mrs. Wang, asked for help in naming her three-year-old daughter.

Where are the pain-points?Constraints can be opportunities

“Due to language barriers and internet censorship in China, the ability to research English names can be limited, often resulting in unfortunate and sometimes comical selections”, Jessup noted.(Source: http://flip.it/BN0YJM)

Prototype: A minimally viable Idea

Back home, Jessup hired a freelance web developer to build a Chinese language website for the Chinese community. Meanwhile, in her spare time, she filled a database with more than 4,000 boys and girls names, attributing five characteristics that best represented that name, such as honesty and optimistism.

Ideate – create choices

The website uses algorithm to generate the names. It also allows collective decision making by encouraging users to share the three name suggestions with their friends and family via a direct link to Chinese messaging app WeChat on the site — to help them settle on their favorite and avoid any “cultural mistakes.”

Travel, Empathise, Talk to locals

Beau Jessup’s idea came about because she is a bridge to a diverse network. How many English speaking Chinese can do what she did? Many.

Sometimes, a simple idea is waiting to be discovered.

Go out and talk to people. Empathise with their constraints and see if you can help solve their problems in a win-win way.

Network for ideas

University of Chicago sociologist Ron Burt has referred to this sort of networking as bridging a gap between different social networks.

Burt studied 673 managers in a large U.S. electronics firm and found that those managers who had a broader network of contacts were consistently rated as generating more highly valued ideas.

Their access to diverse, often contradictory information and interpretations gives them an edge when it comes to spotting and developing good ideas.

To develop our personal brand, many of us struggle to find our niche. What is an area that can define my expertise?

The best way to find out is to Ask!
1. Who is the person in the mirror? Ask yourself, do a personal reflection.
2. What is my preferred style?
3. Am Iikeable? Do I like myself? (Many people would rather do business with people they like, rather than with a jerk.)
4. Do I have access to people who need my services or products?

For anyone who is feeling a little lethargic after the New Year Break, here is a networking challenge for the brave hearted.

Let’s start your networking challenge

Day 1: come up with positive adjectives, strengths and weakness that describe me
Day 2: draft my personal brand statement
Day 3: come up with 5 ice breakers
Day 4: Bring my closest friends to lunch and ask positive adjectives describe me.
Day 5: start my daily list of 10 thanksgiving items. Creative positive energy.
Day 6: list my rewards or motivators on challenge. (Positive energy)
Day 7: Rest Day, Reflection
Day 8: write home call home (parents, siblings), plan next family gathering. If not convenient, send positive thoughts and thank them in mind. Send postcard.
Day 9: start my project of saying hello to a different colleague or classmate everyday for 30 days. Ask: what are you working on? What’s a trend that may bother you? What’s a skill you wish you had time to pick up?
Day 10: create a Linkedin account
Day 11: join a public speaking group such as toastmasters in your area
Day 12: identify an area of professional interest
Day 13: join a group in professional interest
Day 14: Rest Day, Reflection
Day 15: identify a person to start a personal friendship group
Day 16: List 5 latest books affecting your area.
Day 17: Arrange to have coffee with former internship supervisor or colleagues
Day 18: Keep in touch with (one) classmate from past. Repeat with different person next cycle.
Day 19: Sign up for a talk in area of interest
Day 20: join a group of personal interest, faith or hobby, eg. Mahjong or tennis
Day 21: Rest Day, Reflection – list 10 topics you have collected from conversations.
Day 22: Start a blog, write your first article
Day 23: List of social causes, pick one Volunteer for a social cause
Day 24: Congratulate a friend
Day 25: Rest Day, Reflection
Day 26: Update my Linkedin. Write my first post
Day 27: Celebrate friend’s birthday or anything worth celebrating!
Day 28: Compliment a service staff (stranger).
Day 29: Send postcard to relative
Day 30: Celebrate with loved one!

Repeat cycle!!

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Photo: Visit to Adecco Singapore office with RMIT (HRM) students.

Do you have a friend at work? It matters to your happiness.

12 Tough Questions to ask yourself regarding Workplace Happiness

According to Gallup Organisation, 71% of American workers (as of 2012) are “disengaged” or “actively disengaged” from their work.  Surprisingly, Gen X are more disengaged than Baby Boomers (above 65 yrs old) and Gen Y (below 30 yrs old).  Those with college education and above are more disengaged than those with High School Diploma.  Perhaps not so surprising, considering that the Gen X and those with higher education qualifications may be caught in the middle management squeeze and unfulfilled dreams.

How do Singaporean workers fare?  According to a Bloomberg report, 2% of Singapore workforce is engaged, down from 6%. Global average is 11%.

Source: Gallup

gallup

Given the strong relationship between workers’ workplace engagement and the company’s positive business performance, employers should care that their workers are engaged.    What can employers do?  After 80,000 interviews with 400 managers,  Gallup narrows down 12 questions that all employees should ask:

Network upwards:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

Lunch-atop-a-skyscraper-631

Source: Lunch atop a skyscraper in New York

Networking sideways: 

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

Looking inwards:

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

From First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

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Photo: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Transiting from a technical to a management role, young managers  lack a power base of followers.

Jean Louis Barsoux and Cyril Bouquet in MIT Sloan Review suggest 3 areas to plug this deficit:

  1. Legitimacy
  2. Critical resources
  3. Networks

1. Legitimacy with bosses sends a signal of your credibility to others leading to more visibility and influence, boosting your standing.  Your boss can also connect you to influential people and information.

Research on (LMX) Leader Member exchange indicates that bosses mentally divide their members into “in group” vs “out group”.

How to build legitimacy with bosses?

On the job:Hard work while important is exaggerated to secure credibility.

LMX research suggests that one’s attitude and perceived compatibility with the boss are more powerful determinants of good relationship.

Style:

  • Understand the boss’s style, objectives and preferences. Example: Do they prefer short or long meetings? Email vs face to face?. Brevity vs depth. Adjust your communication style accordingly. Goals and interests to provide the kind of support to help boss succeed.
  • Deliver on those objectives.
  • Seek feedback as appropriate.

Accumulate credits by helping superiors get things done.  Kick start the virtuous cycle of reciprocity by making good faith deposits upfront.

2. Be a resource. Gain special expertise or niche.

  • Find subtle ways to advertise your expertise by publicly volunteering to help colleagues tackle difficult problems.

What sort of expertise ?

  • Identify problems nobody else has noticed especially regarding disruptive trends or that few people are capable of resolving and then work to address them.
  • Consolidate your strengths.  Be so good you can’t be ignored. Don’t just be a generalist.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co once said, “To be a future leader, one should have a skill that everyone looks at and says X is the go-to person for that skill. Unless you’re really known for something, you don’t stand out from the pack.

One of the risks involved is that you’ll be locked into the position.

3. Build your own network.

A high quality relationship with a poorly connected boss may do more harm than good. Protect yourself from toxic bosses. Otherwise, you’ve to identify escape routes for yourself in the event of sudden organisation shake up.

Cultivate useful allies. Sponsors who know your work and speak up for you during promotion meetings. Look beyond titles and formal roles to discover informal ties and actual dynamics that drive decision making in a group. Real movers and shakers.

How?

Reach out to both internal and external stakeholders. External stakeholders can include government relations, customers and analysts and institutional investors and board members. Ask customers what they really need.

Curate– create forums where ideas and information can be exchanged.  This could be physical, e.g. company dinner and dance or a virtual forum where you help people connect. Gain a reputation as someone who knows how to connect people.

Many of these roles contain risks, acknowledge the authors. So walk a fine line as you may be seen as using the role for your own gain.

Assess the areas of influence which you lack.

Small Talk Topics.

Why connecting is good for our brains but social rejection is not …

9 relationships we need in our network

Career fairs are around the corner. Job search especially networking can be stressful. Why attend when we can read online company info?

Make your presence felt at these pivotal moments. Practice in small doses to acclimatise your amydala. The ability to ask insightful questions reflects an intelligent mind. 

Ask not questions from available open source material such as company website, Hoover, Bloomberg etc. Demonstrate the extent of your research by asking insightful questions.

Note that timing is important when asking questions. The questions below only serve as a guide. Use your judgment as to when you should ask the questions. Pay attention to the “flow” of the conversation to avoid the conversation sounding awkward and abrupt.

Questions about the company

  1. Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. Between two equally-qualified candidates, what’s the deciding factor whom to hire?
  4. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
  5. What do you want to see accomplished in your team/ department/ company in the next 3 to 6 months? What would be ideal outcome or key performance indicator?
  6. What impact, if any, has Web 2.0 made on your organization or you personally?
  7. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

Questions to the speaker at a personal level

  1. Can you share what insights impacted you most personally as a leader? Was there someone who was a mentor to you? In what way was this person an impact on your life?
  2. Is there any way I can be of help to you right now?
  3. What advice would you give someone going into this industry for the first time?
  4. What do you like to do? (Instead of what do you do?)

Don’t crowd the CEO of the company. Younger company reps may have more relevant advice since they were  in your shoes, not too long ago.

News-worthy events

  1. How do you read the impact of a [XXXX] on your industry?

Questions to the speaker

[Source: http://michaelhyatt.com/20-questions-to-ask-other-leaders.html%5D

Michael Hyatt is one of my favourite gurus. Do check out his website and podcasts.

  1. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
  2. As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
  3. How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?
  4. How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?
  5. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
  6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
  7. What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
  8. What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
  9. Could you share some of the resources you use to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
  10. What are some of your go-to resources for guidance in your field of work?

What other questions would you add to the above list?  Pls comment below.

Happy Networking and career success.

How do introverts network?

Next to public speaking, networking must be on the Top 5 biggest fear list.

When asked about networking, most people conjure an image of exchanging namecards at a business networking event, and not seeing the person again.  Meaningless activity.  How often have you gone home and thrown away the namecards?

Networking is done at two levels (i) With people you don’t know, but would like to know and (ii) those whom you know and want to deepen connections. I’ve recently chanced upon Michael Port’s article, which I’d like to archive in my blog.

(i) Reaching out to new contacts

Michael Port in his book “Book Yourself Solid” suggests the following:

(1) Start by creating your List of 20.

20 people that you’d like to know but do not yet know but who can help you do your work.

For example:

If you want to get booked to speak, you might include specific meeting planners.

If you want to get booked to write articles, you might include specific editors.

If you want to meet well-known bloggers or authors, you might include them.

Or, maybe, if there are specific potential referral partners that you’d like to meet, you might include them.

Put these people on your List of 20.  If you don’t have 20 people who come to mind right now, just start with three. But eventually you’ll grow it and keep it at 20. Why? Keeping your list at 20 ensures that it’s a large enough so as to keep your focus expansive, yet small enough that you’re able to focus on each person specifically.

What do you do with this list? Simple. Reach out to one person on this list each day. NOT to ask for a favor or to meet for coffee but to express appreciation for them and their work.

  • Write a blog post about them or comment on a blog post that they wrote.Retweet a few of their Tweets in one day or Tweet about them or to them.
  • Write a short (under 5 lines) email or handwritten note to them telling them why you appreciate their work.

Michael Port’s favorite quotes from Winston Churchill,”It’s a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” Building relationships work the same way.

So, if there is someone you’d like to get to know and they have a higher professional status then you, don’t call them up and ask to meet them for a cup of coffee. You’re probably not (yet) relevant to them unless they have some prior connection to you. Remember, “Only one link in the chain of destiny at a time.”

After you reach out to the person on the top of the list, put them on the bottom. So, the person that you reached out today goes from number one to number twenty. The person who was number twenty becomes number nineteen and the person who was number two advances to the number one spot.

Then, tomorrow, reach out to the next person at the top of that list. Do this every single business day. This way, each day you are connecting with, at least, one person on your List of 20. And, over the course of one month, you’ll have connected with every person on your List of 20.

How long should this take you? About 5 minutes a day.

Of course, if you develop a strong connection right away and your relationship starts to build quickly then you take them off your List of 20 and add them to your Network of 90.

(ii) Networking with people you want to develop deeper relationships

(2) Michael suggests to keep a Network of 90 – a specific, managable, number of relavant contacts. Again, these are people you already know (or have met) that you’d like to stay in touch with and continue to build stronger relationships. If you focus on the most relevant ninety people in your network along with the twenty people on your List of 20, then you stay below Dunbar’s number of 150 which is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.

You don’t need to know a million people, just the right people who can put business opportunities in front of you. Your job is to earn that business.

Now you’ve got your Network of 90. And, as you might remember from the beginning of this article, I suggested that you do four things each day to build your network and get booked solid.

The first was to reach out to one person on your List of 20 each day. The second, third, and fourth daily action steps will bring you closer to the people in your Network of 90.

(3) Introduce two people in your network who do not yet know each other but might find each other relvant (personally or professionally) and appreciate the introduction.

You might have two people in your Network of 90 who are scratch golfers and they live close to each other. Golfers are always looking for a 4th but they want somebody at their own level. So you might introduce them.

If you are nervous about whether or not you should make the introduction, you might ask each one individually, “I would love to introduce you to a good friend of mine who is also a scratch golfer, would you like me to?”

Or, maybe you know two people that are in the publishing industry or two people in the real estate industry. Both would present excellent opportunities for making an introduction.

Generally, business owners and executives want to continue to move forward in their careers and, to do so, they know it’s essential for them to meet new people. As a result, 9.9 times out of 10 they are going to say “Oh, yes, please do introduce me. Thank you!”

Note: when you make the introduction, share only professional, public contact information unless it’s requested that you share private contact information instead.

(4) Share information

Next, each day, share some useful or helpful information with at least one person in your Network of 90. The easiest way to do this is by reading articles in online magazines, journals, and blogs every day, the ones that are most relevant to your network.

When you see an article that is relevant to one of the people in your network, send it to them via email and say, “Hey, Jennifer, I just read this article and I immediately thought of you. It was about ‘this’ and I know you’re very interested in ‘that’ so I thought you might find it valuable. Have you read it? What do you think?” And, now you can get into a conversation with her about the subject matter and, as a result, develop your relationship.

If you like this post, subscribe to Michael Port’s newsletter.

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