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5 things we learned from ‘Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster’ – Off The Ball

Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:48 pm


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Returning for a second series, the first episode of 'Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster', in association with GOAL Global, threw up a number of fascinating insights into the Leinster coach's methods and approach to life and rugby.

Five things we learned from 'Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster'

1 - Stuart Lancaster has 'more free time than you'd think'

"I'm in Dublin, my family are in Leeds and I'm on my own," revealed Stuart Lancaster with reference to his personal time, "I've got evenings on my own."

Scarcely sitting around wasting time, however, Stuart Lancaster discussed how important this free-time was in allowing him to brush up on his leadership techniques, and devise ways of passing these skills onto his players.

"I've got the time and the capacity and certainly see the job as partly educating the players from a rugby and tactical point of view," he stated, "but also partly from a leadership point of view."

Enabling success on and off the pitch for his players, the Leinster coach believes his players have demonstrated a willingness to learn.

2 - Man-management is a vital component of Leinster's success

Calling on a recent incident for the purposes of demonstrating the nature of his work with Leinster, Stuart Lancaster discussed the importance of pushing individuals for the good of the collective.

"I constantly have to remind myself to have the small conversations with players," he explained.

"There was one with a player who has just fought his way into the first-team and I felt he wasn't quite believing in himself.

"So, I pulled him to one side and we had a conversation a few weeks ago and he played much, much better over the last two weeks.

"He was now asking for the ball, showing more confidence in his own ability."

3 - The importance of the Leinster 'family'

Suffering the devastating loss of his father last year, Lancaster revealed how touched he was by the support he and his family received from those he works alongside at Leinster.

Paying scant heed to the fact that the funeral fell during the middle of a "rugby week," Lancaster discussed how numerous members of the staff (playing and management) made the journey from Dublin to "a tiny little village" in Cumbria so they could show their support.

You can read more of that story from Lancaster's 'Leaders Questions' here.

4 - Failure matters!

Suffering what may well have been a detrimental end to his coaching career with the England national side, Stuart Lancaster is acutely aware that failure is not necessarily an end in and of itself.

"In American football, they tend to go for coaches who've failed before," he outlined with particular reference to the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick.

Notably failing with the Cleveland Browns before going on to dominate American football with the Patriots, Lancaster rallied against the prevailing feeling toward failure closer to home.

"In Europe," he argued, "it seems to be that you're out the door and you let the next person in."

5 - Dealing with Leinster's 'Millennials'

Conscious of the difference in age that separates him from his younger players at Leinster, Stuart Lancaster discussed the challenges he faces in translating his messages in a manner that will remain effective.

"The millennials I coach are brilliant," he noted with regards to his young Leinster talents, "but how they consume material has changed."

Citing the importance of Whatsapp in communicating with his players, Lancaster discussed how the age-profile of his own children (17 & 18-years old) helped him immensely in adjusting to this.

GOAL is an Irish based international humanitarian response agency dedicated to saving and transforming lives around the world by delivering support, care and impact to those experiencing crisis and poverty.

You can be a part of the GOAL family by supporting or volunteering with us. To find out how, visit http://www.goalglobal.org

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5 things we learned from 'Leaders Questions with Stuart Lancaster' - Off The Ball

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:48 pm

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How I Turned $100 Into Millions Using The M.O.R.E. Method – Forbes

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$100. It doesnt seem like much, but it was all I needed to motivate myself to ultimately make millions as an entrepreneur.

Does that sound like an exaggeration? Its not, absolutely. The reality is millions of would-be entrepreneurs never make as much is $100. For me, making that first $100 represented crossing a threshold.

LightRocket via Getty Images

A small one, yes, but a necessary one on the way toward reaching progressively larger goals. After all, you have to start somewhere, and $100 did it for me.

Youve Already Made $100 and It Didnt Do Anything For You Now What?

I completely get it. $100 doesnt buy a lot these days, and it certainly isnt life-changing. It doesnt mean youre rich, and it wont come close to guaranteeing you a comfortable retirement.

If you have a job, youve already made $100 many times over. You probably earn several times that amount in a single week. You already know it doesnt amount to the equivalent of a car payment or even a weeks worth of groceries. Mostly, its just pocket change.

So why is $100 so important to me?

My journey toward building wealth started when I read Robert Kyosakis eye-opening book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If youre not familiar with the book and I consider it to be recommended reading Kyosaki chronicles the differences between his real dad, and another man he informally adopted as a dad.

His real dad spent most of his life doing little more than paying bills. He never accumulated a substantial amount of money, and struggled throughout his life. His real dad was his poor dad in the book.

But his adopted dad his rich dad figured out how to make money work for him early in life, and became a truly wealthy man.

Kyosaki used the comparison between the two dads to show how the average person follows the path of his real dad. That is, theyre trained to go to college, get a job, and begin acquiring the trappings of middle-class life. Unlike his rich dad, they dont learn the secrets of money, particularly how to leverage it to work for them.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad challenges us to change our mindset when it comes to money. It teaches us we can learn to master money and grow it by following the example of Kyosakis rich dad. But its a choice, and one we have to consciously embrace making.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad Was Just the Beginning

Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a classic book when it comes to creating the motivation to build wealth. However, it stopped short of giving you a specific roadmap to show you how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

But all journeys begin with proper motivation, and the book certainly gave that to me. It stimulated a desire to experiment with different businesses and money-making ideas. Ultimately, you have to find what it is that works for you. This takes a healthy dose of trial and error, as well as a willingness to fail, then get back up and try again.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

The problem for most people, as it was for me as well, is you dont know where to start. That can lead to paralysis by analysis, where you get trapped inside your own head, and fail to take action.

Fear is another obstacle. Theres no doubt when you step out and try something new, the risk of failure is a constant traveling companion. It can lead to loss of time, money, credibility with your peers, and even self-esteem.

Put another way, the emotional aspects of taking the chances necessary to create wealth leads most people to not even try.

The only way to overcome the paralysis and fear factors is by moving forward, one step at a time.

The M.O.R.E. Method to Building Wealth

As I began my journey into wealth building, I began to notice there were certain things I did that produced positive results. Whats more, I saw the same pattern with others who were either already wealthy, or well on their way.

It was from those patterns I hatched the M.O.R.E. concept. Its made up of the following components (Im sure youll excuse me for the fact that some letters in M.O.R.E. have more than one category!):

M #1: Mentor

This is about finding people who are already at the place you want to be. The goal is to find such people, get to know them, and find out what it is they do that leads them to success. Its a way of finding proven strategies from people who have actually done them. The alternative is to waste a lot of time, effort, and money trying to reinvent the wheel on your own. A mentor eliminates that long and painful process.

Mentoring is a great opportunity to deliver a rewarding and potentially life-changing experience for both the mentor and the mentee, reports Forbes Contributor, Mary Abbajay. It is one of the most important things a person can do to enhance their career and professional life. It takes time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort. Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, its a win-win for your career.

You dont need to know a successful person to make him or her your mentor. Robert Kyosaki was my first mentor, and Ive never met him. But by reading his books and following his work, he became an unknowing mentor to me.

You can do the same with other successful people. With the Internet, its easier to do than ever. Most popular wealth building people also have websites. There you can get access to additional information and resources. You may even have an opportunity for direct contact through email. Think of it as a start until youre able to connect with successful entrepreneurs on a face-to-face basis.

M #2: Mastermind Group

This is nothing more complicated than hooking up with a group of people who have similar interests and goals, and meeting with them regularly. Apart from sharing goals, it also works as an accountability group. That is, you hold each other accountable for the goals each of you sets.

Having people around to call on when you need it is one of the soundest investments you can make, Forbes Contributor Sarah Kathleen Peck says of mastermind groups. These are people you can call on to help you talk through tough decisions, and people whose businesses and lives you become a part of.

If youve never been part of a mastermind group, the accountability piece can seem a bit scary. But thats really the point whenever youre embarking on a new course in life you need to surround yourself with people who will help you work around obstacles and keep you from quitting.

But mastermind groups arent just about compelling you move forward. Theyre also an opportunity for you to share your successes with the group. Just as the successes of others will help you, your own victories will help the other members of the group.

When I joined a mastermind group early in my career, it led to exponential growth of my business and my income. Its the natural outcome of surrounding yourself with other successful, high achieving entrepreneurs. I was able to go to these people with my problems, and get insights and strategies on how to overcome them. Thats an advantage you cant put a price on.

O #1: Open an Investment Account

You can build wealth through your business or your career, but the accumulation really kicks into high gear only when you begin investing. Once you do, you begin earning money on your money, while youre busy with your primary occupation. Ultimately, it provides you with income from two sources your career and your portfolio.

You may already have an investment account, so Im addressing the O in M.O.R.E. to those who dont. And many dont, for all kinds of reasons. They may be waiting until they make more money, have more money, get out of debt, or for some other event.

A very common obstacle to investing is a lack of knowledge. But dont let that stop you either. Like everything else you do in life, investing is something you learn as you go. And with the many investment options there are today, particularly mutual funds and robo-advisors, you dont need to know anything at all about investing to get started.

When it comes to investing, youll need to pull the trigger sooner or later, and sooner is always better. You always learn more by taking action than researching the action you need to take!

Dont underestimate this step. Once you get started, investing is just a matter of scaling up your activity. This means adding money to your portfolio, and spreading it across the most productive asset classes, if only gradually. The sooner you start, the more time youll have the build wealth and gain experience.

No matter what your financial situation is right now, or what obstacles you face, open an investment account and get started.

O #1: Opening Your Personal Equity Fund

You may already have a savings account, like an emergency fund or a rainy day fund, but this is something completely different.

A personal equity fund is a savings account youre going to funnel money into on a regular basis for the sole purpose of investing in yourself.

Investing in yourself could be buying a course that will help you improve your career or business. It can also be hiring a business or career coach, or even joining a coaching program. It can also be something as simple as buying more how-to books or subscribing to a membership community that will help you either build your business or your investment portfolio.

The purpose of a personal equity fund is to remove the cost factor from the equation. If you need any information to grow your business or improve your investment performance, youll already have the money available. In this way, youll change your mindset and stop thinking of investing in yourself as being some sort of expense.

When it comes to investing in yourself, its important to get past the cost factor, and focus more on the much greater financial benefit youll gain. Its part of embracing a mentality of abundance, rather than scarcity.

When starting a business, you can either commit money or time to your project, explains Benjamin Brandt, CFP at Capital City Wealth Management, Inc, in Bismarck, ND, and host of the popular retirement podcast, Retirement Starts Today. If youre like most aspiring business owners, you dont have unlimited funds and youll need to bootstrap all aspects of your budding business. Fortunately for you, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts are available to teach anyone any topic from the comfort of your own home and generally for no cost.

R: Research

Whatever direction youre going to take your business or your investments, youll need to do plenty of research to help you get there. No one is born knowing exactly what to do its always a learning process.

Research will help you in developing and launching a product, an online course, an e-commerce store, or any income generating venture you come up with.

Research can involve using some of your personal equity fund to buy resources, like courses and programs that will help you with your venture. But it may also be something as simple as joining a Facebook group with people who are already on the same track. Youll need to do extensive research if youre looking to improve on an already existing product or service, and even more so if youre looking to launch something totally new.

But it has to be research with boundaries. I say this because its very possible to research too much.

One of the revelations that hit me in my business career is I dont have to know everything I just have to know enough to get started now.

This process is sometimes referred to as just in time learning.

For example, lets say you want to create a course on how to learn swimming. You dont need to first learn how to market on Facebook. You first need to create your course, then youll learn how to market on Facebook later. Put another way, youll learn what you need when you need it. If you try to learn everything before you even get started, youll probably never start.

Which is an excellent segue into the last part of my M.O.R.E. strategy

E: Execute and Enjoy

This can be the scariest part of the whole process, but you need to be ready to take whatever your plans are and put them out there into the real world. And you need to do it even if you dont think youre completely ready.

Youll never know if a business idea will be successful until you actually put it in motion. That will help you to know if you need to modify the idea, or even scrap it completely.

That was my experience when I launched my blog, Good Financial Cents. I hardly knew what blogging was, but I had a financial story to tell, and I wanted to get it out there. Without a doubt, I didnt know nearly what I needed to in order to make the blog a success. But by getting started by executing I put myself out there, and gradually learned what I needed to know. That idea alone has earned me several million dollars.

That brings me back to the seemingly insignificant $100. It took nine months for the blog to finally earn as much as $100. In fact, the actual payment received from Google Adsense was $152.91.

To many, that doesnt seem like enough compensation for nine months of work. But for me, I knew if I could earn that much, I would eventually turn it into so much more. And I did, and all because I earned that first $100+.

Final Thoughts

Dont underestimate the power of earning your first $100. If you plan to launch a business venture, this will be a pivotal moment. Remember once again most people who launch business ventures never make that much. They then give up, never to try again.

Launch a side hustle, with the goal of making your first $100. I promise you, youll be surprised at how empowering that achievement will be. Youll have created an income source that previously didnt exist. And youll know if you can make that much, you can make a lot more.

Creating wealth is really about getting started, making a little bit of money, then multiplying your success. Once you master the concept, you can take it as far as you want. And thats the whole purpose of the M.O.R.E. strategy.

Use it, and I promise youll get there faster than you ever dreamed.

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How I Turned $100 Into Millions Using The M.O.R.E. Method - Forbes

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Personal Success

Greens look to capitalize on provincial success in the east – CBC.ca

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As he started his first haircut of the day, Sean Aylward explained that he owns two barber shops, one in Summerside, P.E.I.,and another in Charlottetown, and he's never been committed in politics.

"I've voted for every single party in my life," he declared.

That was until he was inspired by the success of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island in the provincial election in April. Islanders elected eight Green MLAs, enough to form the Official Opposition.

Aylward, now the campaign manager for Green candidateAlex Clarkin the federal election, is hoping to capitalize on the Green momentum in his home province.

"We're getting a ton of good reception," he said. "A lot of people are fed up with the same old solutions to old problems."

Don Desserud, a political scientist at the University of Prince Edward Island, said there could also be a Green breakthrough in New Brunswick, where there are currently three Green MLAs. In the Fredericton area, provincial Green leader David Coon won his seat with with 56.7 per cent of the vote in last year's provincial election.

"There's no doubt they could take a big chunk of the vote," said the CBC's polling expert ric Grenier. "If that comes primarily from the Liberals, that could hurt their re-election chances in a number of ridings."

Whether the support translates to federal seats, the Green surge has Liberals worried about vote-splitting, with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau urging voters to stick with the party during a campaign stop in Fredericton last month.

But unseating federal Liberals won't be easy. The Liberals currently hold all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada, including the four up for grabs on P.E.I. In fact, in the past 31 years, Islanders have only twice sent someone to Ottawa, who wasn't a Liberal Conservative Gail Shea in 2008 and 2011.

Desserudsaidhistorically Islanders have voted Liberal when the rest of the country does and when it doesn't.

"It's not a simple matter of taking Green Party support at the provincial level and translating over to the federal level, because you're dealing with a completely different set of dynamics," he said.

He said the provincial Greens had a popular, charismatic leader in Peter Bevan-Baker, as well as a comprehensive platform that addressed issues such as healthcare, and education in addition to the environment.

He also said the strength of well-known Liberal incumbents Lawrence MacAulay, Bobby Morrissey, Wayne Easter and Sean Casey who have long political histories, can't be underestimated.

"As a small Island, with small constituencies, the chances of people having a close personal connection with their MP is much greater than you would have in metropolitan areas like Toronto or Vancouver," he said.

That's exactly what's determining Ranald MacFarlane's vote.

MacFarlane, a pig and dairy farmer in Fernwood, south of Summerside, is furious with the Liberals over the new North American trade deal. He voted Green provincially, but is still voting Liberal in the federal election.

"I believe in Wayne Easter," he said of the Liberal candidate for Malpeque. "There is some actual good in him that I want to be on the inside in government. If it wasn't for Wayne, let me make it abundantly clear that I would vote for the Greens."

That allegiance to local candidates makes it difficult to predict political trends on P.E.I.

Desserud also said that, while many who voted Green provincially did so as a "rebellious" vote against the Liberals, not necessarily for the Green platform, that may have since changed.

"It's like a team sport, you become a part of a team and then you identify with that team," he said.

In Sean Aylward's barber shop, Dave Uza weighs in while getting his haircut. He says he feels as though he doesn't have much of an option in this election.

"I'm not going Conservatives. I'm definitely not giving Trudeau a majority. I think we're going to go Green this year."

Aylward said he knows Elizabeth May isn't going to be the prime minister, but he believes it's possible for his party to win seats, and while he's changed his mind in the past, he says now he's a Green for life.

"I'm older, I'm more educated in the issues," he said. "I've got a daughter and she deserves to grow up in a world that's better than the one I grew up in and, the way we're going right now, it's not going to be."

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Greens look to capitalize on provincial success in the east - CBC.ca

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

Posted in Personal Success

Chipotle will cover tuition for tech and business degrees – CNN

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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Nick Cave Is the Most Joyful, and Critical, Artist in America – The New York Times

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THE INAUGURATION OF Nick Caves Facility, a new multidisciplinary art space on Chicagos Northwest Side, has the feeling of a family affair. In April, inside the yellow-brick industrial building, the classical vocalist Brenda Wimberly and the keyboardist Justin Dillard give a special performance for a group that includes local friends, curators and educators, as well as Caves high school art teacher, Lois Mikrut, who flew in from North Carolina for the event. Outside, stretching across the windows along Milwaukee Avenue, is a 70-foot-long mosaic made of 7,000 circular name tags with a mix of red and white backgrounds, each of them personalized by local schoolchildren and community members. They spell out the message Love Thy Neighbor.

The simple declaration of togetherness and shared purpose is a mission statement for the space, a creative incubator as well as Caves home and studio, which he shares with his partner, Bob Faust, and his older brother Jack. Its also a raison dtre for Cave, an uncategorizable talent who has never fit the mold of the artist in his studio. Best known for his Soundsuits many of which are ornate, full-body costumes designed to rattle and resonate with the movement of the wearer his work, which combines sculpture, fashion and performance, connects the anxieties and divisions of our time to the intimacies of the body.

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Exhibited in galleries or worn by dancers, the suits fanciful assemblages that include bright pelts of dyed hair, twigs, sequins, repurposed sweaters, crocheted doilies, gramophones or even stuffed sock-monkey dolls, their eerie grins covering an entire supersize garment are compulsively, unsettlingly decorative. Some are amusingly creature-like; others are lovely in an almost ecclesiastical way, bedecked with shimmering headpieces embellished with beads and porcelain birds and other discarded tchotchkes he picks up at flea markets. Even at the level of medium, Cave operates against entrenched hierarchies, elevating glittery consumer detritus and traditional handicrafts like beadwork or sewing to enchanting heights.

The artist recalls the first time he saw Barkley L. Hendrickss painting Steve (1976). By Scott J. Ross

In invigorating performances that often involve collaborations with local musicians and choreographers, the Soundsuits can seem almost shaman-esque, a contemporary spin on kukeri, ancient European folkloric creatures said to chase away evil spirits. They recall as well something out of Maurice Sendak, ungainly wild things cutting loose on the dance floor in a gleeful, liberating rumpus. The surprising movements of the Soundsuits, which change depending on the materials used to make them, tend to guide Caves performances and not the other way around. There is something ritual-like and purifying about all the whirling hair and percussive music; the process of dressing the dancers in their 40-pound suits resembles preparing samurai for battle. After each performance, the suits made of synthetic hair require tender grooming, like pets. Caves New York gallerist, Jack Shainman, recalls the time he assisted in the elaborate process of brushing them out I was starting to bug out, because there were 20 or 30 of them only to have Cave take over and do it all himself. Much beloved and much imitated (as I write this, an Xfinity ad is airing in which a colorful, furry-suited creature is buoyantly leaping about), they can be found in permanent museum collections across America.

Their origins are less intellectual than emotional, as Cave tells it, and theyre both playful and deadly serious. He initially conceived of them as a kind of race-, class- and gender-obscuring armature, one thats both insulating and isolating, an articulation of his profound sense of vulnerability as a black man. Using costume to unsettle and dispel assumptions about identity is part of a long tradition of drag, from Elizabethan drama to Stonewall and beyond; at the same time, the suits are the perfect expression of W.E.B. Du Boiss idea of double consciousness, the psychological adjustments black Americans make in order to survive within a white racist society, a vigilant, anticipatory awareness of the perceptions of others. Its no coincidence that Cave made the first Soundsuit in 1992, after the beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991, a still-vivid racial touchstone in American history; almost three decades later, the suits are no less timely. It was an almost inflammatory response, he remembers, looking shaken as he recalls watching Kings beating on television 28 years ago. I felt like my identity and who I was as a human being was up for question. I felt like that could have been me. Once that incident occurred, I was existing very differently in the world. So many things were going through my head: How do I exist in a place that sees me as a threat?

Cave had begun teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with its predominately white faculty, two years before, and in the aftermath of the incident, followed by the acquittal of the officers responsible, he felt his isolation painfully. I really felt there was no one there I could talk to. None of my colleagues addressed it. I just felt like, Im struggling with this, this is affecting my people. I would think that someone would be empathetic to that and say, How are you doing? I held it all in internally. And thats when I found myself sitting in the park, he says. In Grant Park, around the corner from his classroom, he started gathering twigs something that was discarded, dismissed, viewed as less. And it became the catalyst for the first Soundsuit.

For many years after he began making his signature work, Cave deliberately avoided the spotlight, shying away from an adoring public: I knew I had the ability, but I wasnt ready, or I didnt want to leave my friends behind. I think this grounded me, and made me an artist with a conscience. Then, one day, something said, Now or never, and I had to step into the light. Initially, he wasnt prepared for the success of the Soundsuits. For much of the 90s, I literally shoved all of them into the closet because I wasnt ready for the intensity of that attention, Cave says. He began exhibiting the Soundsuits at his first solo shows, mostly in galleries across the Midwest; hes since made more than 500 of them. Theyve grown alongside Caves practice, evolving from a form of protective shell to an outsize, exuberant expression of confidence that pushes the boundaries of visibility. They demand to be seen.

From left: a 2012 Soundsuit made from buttons, wire, bugle beads, wood and upholstery; a 2013 Soundsuit made from mixed media including a vintage bunny, safety-pin craft baskets, hot pads, fabric and metal; a 2009 Soundsuit made from human hair; a 2012 Soundsuit made from mixed media including sock monkeys, sweaters and pipe cleaners. All images Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photos by James Prinz Photography

From left: Speak Louder, a 2011 Soundsuit sculpture made from buttons, wire, bugle beads, upholstery and metal; a 2010 Soundsuit made from mixed media including hats, bags, rugs, metal and fabric; a 1998 Soundsuit made from mixed media including twigs, wire and metal. All images Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photos by James Prinz Photography

Following the phenomenal success of the Soundsuits, Caves focus has expanded to the culture that produced them, with shows that more directly implicate viewers and demand civic engagement around issues like gun violence and racial inequality. But increasingly, the art that interests Cave is the art he inspires others to make. With a Dalloway-like genius for bringing people from different walks of life to the table in experiences of shared good will, Cave sees himself as a messenger first and an artist second, which might sound more than a touch pretentious if it werent already so clear that these roles have, for some time, been intertwined. In 2015, he trained youth from an L.G.B.T.Q. shelter in Detroit to dance in a Soundsuit performance. The same year, during a six-month residency in Shreveport, La., he coordinated a series of bead-a-thon projects at six social-service agencies, one dedicated to helping people with H.I.V. and AIDS, and enlisted dozens of local artists into creating a vast multimedia production in March of 2016, As Is. In June 2018, he transformed New Yorks Park Avenue Armory, a former drill hall converted into an enormous performance venue, into a Studio 54-esque disco experience with his piece part revival, part dance show, part avant-garde ballet called The Let Go, inviting attendees to engage in an unabashedly ecstatic free dance together: a call to arms and catharsis in one. Last summer, with the help of the nonprofit Now & There, a public art curator, he enlisted community groups in Bostons Dorchester neighborhood to collaborate on a vast collage that will be printed on material and wrapped around one of the areas unoccupied buildings; in September, also in collaboration with Now & There, he led a parade that included local performers from the South End to Uphams Corner with Augment, a puffy riot of deconstructed inflatable lawn ornaments the Easter bunny, Uncle Sam, Santas reindeer all twisted up in a colossal Frankenstein bouquet of childhood memories. Cave understands that the lost art of creating community, of joining forces to accomplish a task at hand, whether its beading a curtain or mending the tattered social fabric, depends upon igniting a kind of dreaming, a gameness, a childlike ability to imagine ideas into being. But it also involves recognizing the disparate histories that divide and bind us. The strength of any group depends on an awareness of its individuals.

FACILITY IS THE next iteration of that larger mission, and Cave and Faust, a graphic designer and artist, spent years looking for the right space. Creating it required a great deal of diplomacy and determination, as well as an agreeable alderman to assist with the zoning changes and permits. And while it evokes Warhols Factory in name, in intent, the approximately 20,000-square-foot former masons workshop has a very different cast.

Facilitating, you know, projects. Energies. Individuals. Dreams. Every day, I wake up, he wakes up, and were like, O.K. How can we be of service in a time of need? says Cave, who gave me a tour in the fall of 2018, not long after he and Faust settled into the space. Dressed entirely in black leather pants and a sweater, and sneakers with metallic accents the 60-year-old artist has a dancers bearing (he trained for several summers in the early 80s at a program in Kansas City run by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) and an aura of kindness and irrepressible positivity. One wants to have what hes having. Girl, you can wear anything, he reassures me when I fret about the green ruched dress Im wearing, which under his discerning gaze suddenly strikes me as distinctly caterpillarlike. It comes as no surprise that Caves favorite adjective is fabulous.

Vintage bird figurines in the artists studio. Rene Cox

In contrast to his maximalist art practice, his fashion tastes have grown more austere, as of late, and include vintage suits and monochrome classics from Maison Margiela, Rick Owens and Helmut Lang. I have a fabulous sneaker collection, he says. But you know, the reason why is because those floors at the school are so hard, he says, referring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is now a professor of Fashion, Body and Garment. (I also teach at the school, in a different department.) I cant wear a hard shoe, I have to wear a sneaker, he says. Faust teases him: I love how youve just justified having that many sneakers.

Cave met Faust, who runs his own business from Facility, in addition to supporting the artist as his special projects director, when he happened to stop by a sample sale of Caves clothing designs in the early 2000s. The Soundsuits are, for all intents and purposes, a kind of clothing, so fashion has been a natural part of Caves artistic practice since the beginning he studied fiber arts as an undergraduate at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he first learned to sew. In 1996, he started a namesake fashion line for men and women that lasted a decade. If the Soundsuits resist categorization as something to wear in everyday life, they arrive at their unclassifiable beauty by taking the basic elements of clothing design stitching, sewing, understanding how a certain material falls or looks with another kind of material and exaggerating them into the realm of atmospheric psychedelia. That he teaches in the fashion department at an art school further underscores the thin line Cave has always walked between clothing and sculpture, all of it preoccupied in some way with the human body, its form and potential energy. His own clothing designs are slightly only slightly more practical variations on the Soundsuits: loud embroidered sweaters, crocheted shirts with sparkly jewelry. He came in and was like, These clothes are so out there, I cant wear any of this, Cave recalls, laughing. (Faust politely bought a sweater and still wears it today.) At the time, the artist was about to publish his first book and asked Faust to design it; the collaboration was a success, and Faust has subsequently designed all of Caves publications. About eight years ago, the nature of the relationship changed. Before that, I was single for 10 years. I was always traveling, and who is going to handle all of that? Cave says. But Bob already knew who I was, and that makes all the difference. Being with someone who is a visionary in his own right and using this platform as a place of consciousness its very important to me.

In this clip from Caves Here, the artists Soundsuits are captured in Detroit. Nick Cave. Courtesy of The Artist And Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Upstairs is the couples living space and selections from Caves personal art collection: a Kehinde Wiley here, a Kerry James Marshall there. (A lesson from Cave: Buy work from your friends before they become famous.) Cave and Faust opted to leave the floors and walls scarred, bearing the traces of its former use as an industrial building. In a small, sunny room off the kitchen, one corner of the ceiling is left open to accommodate an abandoned wasps nest, a subtle, scrolled masterpiece of found architecture. Fausts teenage daughter also has a bedroom, and Jack, an artist with a design bent, has an adjacent apartment.

Downstairs, in the cavernous work space big enough to host a fashion show, musical or dance performance, are Caves and Fausts studios. Some of Caves assistants he has six of them, Faust has one are applying beads on a vast, multistory tapestry, a project for Chicagos OHare International Airport called Palimpsest. Itll all be gathered and bustled, so theres layers and layers of color. Kind of like an old billboard that, over time, weathers, and layers come off and you see the history, Cave explains. A front gallery is a flexible space where video art visible from the street could be projected a nod to Caves first job out of art school, designing window displays for Macys or young artists could be invited to display work around a shared theme. Facility has already established an art competition and prizes for Chicago Public School students and funded a special award for graduate fashion students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There are lots of creative people that do amazing things but just have never had a break, Cave says. And so to be able to host them in some way, these are the sort of things that are important to us, so we thought, Why not?

AWKWARD PERSONAL disclosures. Long evaluative silences. Talk of coming to form. Art-school crits sessions in which a professor reviews his students work are all pretty similar, but Caves are famous both for their perspicacity and warmth. For all his multi-hyphenates, teacher may be the role that best sums up his totality of being. When someone believes in your work, it changes how you see your future, he says when we meet in the vast, light-filled studios in downtown Chicago, where the graduate fashion students are working.

Its the second-to-last crit of the year for Caves first-year students in the two-year M.F.A. program, and the pressure is on to develop their own distinct visual language before they begin their thesis projects in the fall. One woman from Russia has made a set of dresses from delicate organic 3-D-printed shapes mushrooms, flowers sewing them together and arranging them on a mannequin; they resemble exquisite body cages. Cave suggests that she should work in muslin on a flat surface rather than directly on the mannequin in order to make the silhouette less uptight.

Caves Untitled (2018), which features a carved head and an American flag made of used shotgun shells. Image Nick Cave. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by James Prinz Photography

Next up is a student from China, who directs our attention to an anchor-shaped object suspended from the ceiling. It is made of small blue squares of fabric shes dipped in batter and deep-fried to stiffen. She plays Bjrks The Anchor Song for us on her iPhone and explains that the textile sculpture is an expression of homesickness, longing and the mourning of a long relationship. We stare up at it silently. Theres a faint whiff of grease. After some back and forth with the student, Cave delivers his verdict: Your tent is big, but you need to get on your boxing gloves and get in there, he says. You should be completely, 100 percent in it, and not let your will dictate. Bring all the parts together.

That was pretty raw, says Cave, once we are back in his office, noting that, when given a push, the student with the anchor astonishes everyone with what she can do. He clearly adores all of his charges, and sees teaching as a way of passing on his own teachers lessons: a way of liberating the creative subconscious within the technical rigors of design. Youre looking at whats there fabric, shape and form and asking, How are you coming to pattern, how are you coming to design? And some have just opened up for the first time, and the moment you open up, there are bigger questions, theres a lot more responsibility, theres so much more to grapple with.

A second-year student, Sean Gu, stops by to say hello. Hes just returned from China with a suitcase full of completed samples he wants to show Cave. The garments, jackets and vests, have zips and seat-belt-like buckles and artfully drooping corners that were inspired by Chinese political slogans. Cave and I take turns trying them on: One piece, a vest made of reflective polyurethane with multiple armholes and zippers, is our favorite. (Cave wore it best, of course.) The look on his face is one of pure delight in the cool, fabulous thing his student has made.

Where, one might ask, did Caves seemingly boundless reservoirs of optimism and joy and productive energy come from? The short answer is Missouri, where Cave, born in Fulton, in the central part of the state, and raised in nearby Columbia, was the third of seven brothers. His mother, Sharron Kelly, worked in medical administration (Caves parents divorced when he was young), and his maternal grandparents lived nearby on a farm filled with animals. Now that I look back, it was really so amazing for my brothers and myself to be in the presence of all of that unconditional love, he says. We were rambunctious, and of course you fight with your brothers, but we always made up through hugging or kissing. It was just part of the infrastructure. Personal space was limited but respected, a chart of chores was maintained, and creative projects were always afoot (his aunts are seamstresses; his grandmother was a quilter). Hand-me-downs were individually customized by each new wearer. I had to find ways of finding my identity through deconstructing, he recalls. So, if I didnt want to be in my brothers jacket, Id take off the sleeves and replace it with plaid material. I was already in that process of cutting and putting things back together and finding a new vocabulary through dress.

A detail of Caves 2019 Augment installation, made from inflatable lawn ornaments. Rene Cox

The artist tells an illuminating story about his mother, who managed the household on one income and would still often find ways to send food to a struggling family in the neighborhood. Once, during a particularly tight month, she came home from work to realize that there was no food left in the house except dried corn. And so she made a party of it, showing her sons a movie on television and popping the corn. It doesnt take much to shift how we experience something, says Cave, recalling how she would entertain them simply by putting a sock on her hand and changing her voice to create a character. Its nothing, but its everything, he says. Youre just totally captivated. Its these moments of fantasy and belief thats also informed how I go about my work.

Fashions transformative power was also something he understood young, beginning with watching his older female relatives attend church in their fancy hats. In high school, Cave and Jack, who is two years older, experimented with platform shoes and two-tone flared pants. High fashion came to town, literally, via the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling show launched and produced between 1958 and 2009 by Eunice W. Johnson, the co-founder of Johnson Publishing Company, which published Ebony and Jet magazines, both cultural bibles for black America. Ebony magazine was really the first place we saw people of color with style and power and money and vision, and that fashion show would travel to all of these small towns, he reminisces. Honey, black runway back in the day was a spectacle. Its not just walking down the runway. It was almost like theater. And Im this young boy just eating it up and feeling like Im just in a dream, because its all fabulous and I just admire beauty to that extreme. I was just completely consumed by that. His high school teachers encouraged him to apply to the Kansas City Art Institute, where he and Jack would stage fashion shows, which felt more like performance pieces thanks to Caves increasingly outr clothing designs. I just had what I needed to have in order to be the person I need to be, Cave says.

Also harrowingly formative to Caves outlook was the AIDS crisis, which was at its deadly height while he was in graduate school at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in the late 80s. He became painfully aware of the function of denial in our culture, and the extent of peoples unwillingness to see. Watching my friends die played a big part in my perspective, he says. In those moments, you have a choice to be in denial with them or to be present, to be the one to say, This is happening. You have to make a decision to go through that process with them, to pick up their parents at the airport, to clean to get their apartments ready for their parents to stay. And then you have to say goodbye, and then theyre gone, and youre packing up their belongings to send to their families. And then youre just left there in an empty apartment, not knowing what to feel. In a single year, he lost five friends and confronted his own mortality waiting for his test results. Just choosing not to be in denial in any circumstance, he says.

THE VULNERABILITY OF the black body in a historically white context is a subject generations of African-American artists have contended with, perhaps most iconically in Glenn Ligons 1990 untitled etching, in which the phrase I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background, adapted from Zora Neale Hurstons 1928 essay How It Feels to Be Colored Me, is printed over and over again in black stencil on a white canvas, the words blurring as they travel the length of the canvas. In her book Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), the poet Claudia Rankine, writing about Serena Williams, puts it this way: The body has a memory. The physical carriage hauls more than its weight. The body is the threshold across which each objectionable call passes into consciousness all the unintimidated, unblinking and unflappable resilience does not erase the moments lived through, even as we are eternally stupid or everlastingly optimistic, so ready to be inside, among, a part of the games.

The individual body has a memory, and so do collective bodies, retaining a longer and longer list of names Eric Garner on Staten Island, Michael Brown in Missouri, Trayvon Martin in Florida and so many more innocent black people who have suffered violence and death at the hands of police within it. But that day in 1992, hurrying back to his studio with a cart full of twigs and setting out to build a sculpture from them, Cave had no idea that the result would be a garment. At first, it didnt occur to me that I could wear it; I wasnt thinking about it. When he finally did put it on and moved around, it made a sound. And that was the beginning, he says. The sound was a way of alarming others to my presence. The suit became a suit of armor where I hid my identity. It was something other. It was an answer to all of these things I had been thinking about: What do I do to protect my spirit in spite of all thats happening around me? Throughout the Soundsuits countless iterations, Cave has tinkered with their proportions, thinking about the shapes of power, constructing forms that recall a popes miter or the head of a missile. Some of them are 10 feet tall.

But no matter their variations, these Soundsuit designs have always felt personal and unique, as if only Cave himself could have invented them. And yet he is also aware of how the pain he is addressing in these works is also written into our culture: There is a long lineage of casual cruelty that has shaped Caves art. His 2014 installation at Jack Shainman Gallery, Made by Whites for Whites, was inspired by an undated ceramic container Cave found in a flea market that, when pulled off the shelf, revealed itself to be the cartoonishly painted disembodied head of a black man. Spittoon, read the label. Renting a cargo bay, Cave toured the country in search of the most racially charged memorabilia he could find. The centerpiece of the show, Sacrifice, features a bronze cast of Caves own hands and arms, holding another severed head, this one part of an old whack-a-mole type carnival game simultaneously lending compassion to the object while implicating its beholder. Look, Cave is saying. If were ever going to move past this hatred, we have to acknowledge what it is that produced it.

A collection of racially charged salt and pepper shakers that Cave found in a flea market and keeps in his studio. Rene Cox

Its not that Nick doesnt have a dark side, Denise Markonish, the senior curator and managing director of exhibitions at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass., tells me. Markonish approached Cave in 2013 about planning an exhibition for the museums largest gallery. He wants to seduce you and punch you in the gut. The result, the artists most ambitious seduction to date, was his 2016 show, Until, a twist on the legal principle of innocence until guilt is proven. For it, Cave transformed the football-field-size room into a sinister wonderland, featuring a vast crystal cloudscape suspended 18 feet into the air made up of miles of crystals, thousands of ceramic birds, 13 gilded pigs and a fiberglass crocodile covered in large marbles. Accessible by ladder, the top of the cloud was studded with cast-iron lawn jockeys, all of them holding dream catchers. Its an apt and deeply unsettling vision of todays America, land of injustice and consumer plenty, distracted from yet haunted by all of the things it would prefer not to see.

While they were sourcing the materials for the show, Markonish tells me, they realized how expensive crystals are, and one of the curators, Alexandra Foradas, called Cave to ask if some of them could be acrylic. He said, Oh, absolutely, 75 percent can be acrylic but the remaining 50 percent should be glass. She said, Nick, thats 125 percent, and without pausing he said, Exactly. After the show, Markonish asked Cave and Faust to create a graphic expression of the exhibition, which resulted in a tattoo on the inside of her index finger that reads 125%. Of course, at that point, it wasnt about his use of material, she says, but about his dedication and generosity. It was his idea to open up his exhibition to people from the community, to performers or for discussions about the difficult things he wants to talk about in his work.

One of those themes is the gun violence that has ravaged many black communities; Chicago, Caves home of three decades, had more shooting victims (2,948) in 2018 than Los Angeles (1,008) and New York (897) combined, largely concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. (Cave had hoped to open Facility on Chicagos racially diverse West Side, only to run into intransigent zoning laws; he wants to find a permanent home there for Until and has art projects planned with the areas high schools.) Caves most recent gallery show, If a Tree Falls, which featured sculptural installations and opened at Jack Shainman Gallery in fall 2018, strikes a more somber, elegiac note than his previous work, juxtaposing body parts in bronze monochrome, including casts of his own arms emerging from the gallery walls, holding delicate flower bouquets, which suggest a sense of renewal, of hope and metamorphosis. Hes now working on a new series of bronze sculptures, which include casts of his own hands, topped with cast tree branches, birds and flowers, the first of which is meant to debut at Miamis Art Basel in December. The sculptures will be on a much bigger scale a human form made larger than life with embellishment, not unlike the Soundsuits in approach but with a new sense of gravity and monumentality (they are intended to be shown outdoors). The man famous for bringing a light touch to the heaviest of themes is, finally, stripping away the merry trappings and embracing the sheer weight of now.

Arm Peace, part of a series of sculptures created for Caves 2018 solo show, If a Tree Falls, at Jack Shainman Gallery. Rene Cox

A detail of Tondo (2019). Rene Cox

When I ask Cave how he feels about the critical reception of his work he is one of that select group of artists, like Jeff Koons or David Hockney, who is celebrated by both high art and popular culture he tells me that he stopped reading his shows reviews, but not because hes afraid of being misunderstood or underappreciated; instead, he seems to be objecting to a kind of critical passivity. What I find peculiar is that no one really wants to get in there and talk about whats behind it all, he says. Its not that I havent put it out there. And I dont know why.

I push him to clarify: Do you mean that a white reviewer of your show might explain that the work provides commentary on race and violence and history but wont extend that thinking any further, to his or her own cultural inheritance and privilege?

They may provide the context, but it doesnt go further. Theyre not providing any point of view or perspective, or sense of what theyre receiving from this engagement. I just think its how we exist in society, he replies.

Is art alone enough to shake us from our complacency? Two decades into a new millennium, these questions have fresh urgency: By turning away from stricken neighborhoods and underfunded schools, weve perpetuated the conditions of inequality and violence, effectively devaluing our own people. Weve dimmed the very kind of 20th-century American dreaming that led so many of us, including Cave, to a life filled with possibility. Whether or not this can be reversed depends on our being able to look without judgment and walk without blinders, he believes. It means reassessing our own roles in the public theater. It means choosing not to be in denial or giving in to despair. It means seeing beyond the self to something greater.

I just want everything to be fabulous, he tells me, as we part ways for the afternoon. I want it to be beautiful, even when the subject is hard. Honey, the question is, how do you want to exist in the world, and how are you going to do the work?

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Nick Cave Is the Most Joyful, and Critical, Artist in America - The New York Times

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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Why Is This Philly-Area Construction Company Teaching Its Workers to Take Deep Breaths? – phillymag.com

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Transformation

We visited EDA Contractors to find out how the suburban organization is driving an emotional revolution.

EDA Contractors in Bensalem has instituted an intensive program that involves breathing exercises and emotional intelligence training to help their employees be happier and more productive. / Photograph courtesy of EDA Contractors

Were going to start with one hand on the chest and one hand on the belly button, Pat DeAngelis announces to the quiet room. First, breathe three breaths normal like youd typically breathe. Now take three deep breaths. Notice what happens with your belly and your lungs.

Breathe in, she intones. The 10 people in front of her inhale, eyes closed, concentrating on the simple motion of breathing in and out. Two more, she continues. Oftentimes, when we breathe, were breathing more shallow than we should, she explains. When we breathe deep, there are lots of little blood vessels at the bottom of our lungs, and we oxygenate those vessels. And then it goes to the rest of our body. And it decreases anxiety. And it makes us calmer.

Now just bring your attention to your feet, she says. Do a quick body scan. Just know that youre grounded to the earth through this floor. Notice any tension in your feet and release it. Now just notice your legs is there any tightness? Any sensation? Any tension? And just release it. She repeats the same instructions for the abdomen and pelvis, the chest and shoulders, the throat, the face, the head. When youre ready, she says, you can open your eyes.

When I blink my eyes open, Im surprised at what I see. Even though its only been a few minutes, Pat DeAngelis has lulled me into thinking Im in a yoga class, surrounded by other women in exercise tights, ready to destress after a long work day. Instead, Im sitting in a conference room, the only female at a table of construction workers, many in work boots and jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of EDA Contractors a Bensalem-based company transforming the idea of what it means to be intelligent.

One of the small groups in EDAs leadership academy. / Photograph courtesy of EDA Contractors

In 1999, Ed DeAngelis decided to start a roofing company. The Philly native and St. Josephs University graduate had worked his way through the ranks at Montgomeryvilles Belcher Roofing Corporation and had an inkling that he could do this whole construction thing a little bit better. At the time, his goal was to inject some more professionalism into the business and see if he could make a profit while doing it. Since he knew that most start-ups fail in the first few years of the small businesses founded in America in 2014, 56 percent were still operating in year five he figured he could really say hed made it if his namesake company was around after a decade.

That was two decades ago. EDA has expanded from roofing into exteriors more broadly and grown to a workforce of more than 200. Its suburban headquarters wouldnt be out of place in Silicon Valley. The Inquirer named it a top workplace in the region in 2018 and 2019. The latter has come about because Eds well of ambition hasnt run dry yet. At one point, I said, I have a company, Ed says. Now I want to build a community.

That point was around 2010 or 2011, when Ed decided to make sure EDAs office culture was getting as much attention as its construction projects. Hed been reading book after book on successful business strategies and realized he needed to not only set an example for his workers but also invest in their health and happiness.

He began defining the companys values humility, passion, trust, self-improvement. In 2016, when his managers asked for more structure in this culture space, he brought on his aunt, Patricia, a hospital CEO turned leadership development coach, to teach workshops on a part-time basis. Her methods were rooted in the idea of emotional intelligence (EI), or, as prominent EI coach Justin Bariso defines it, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.

The concept stems from neuroscience and the two neural pathways we can take in response to stimuli: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is the part of the brain we use when we react emotionally, the shorter, easier option when we dont pause to think through whats happening. The prefrontal cortex, the longer route, harbors our more rational responses easier to access when we take a moment and breathe.

Multiple studies suggest that the prefrontal cortex doesnt fully develop until about age 25, which is why many people behave more impulsively as teenagers. But no matter how old we are, virtually none of us is taught to think about managing our emotions. Traditionally, men have been brought up to bury their feelings, that a tough and aggressive exterior is the key to respect among their peers, particularly in male-dominated industries. Its such a non-man thing to do, Ed says. Construction workers arent built to think that youre allowed to do that. Youre supposed to figure it out on your own. But that only works for so long.

Kevin Smith (pictured in the green shirt) talks about blowing up at his five-year-old in a small group session. / Photograph courtesy of EDA Contractors

In the conference room, Patricia is asking the room a question: When in the last two weeks have you completely lost it?

Last night, says Kevin Smith, a burly carpentry foreman with two full sleeves of tattoos. My five-year-old was having a little discipline trouble in school, and I lost it on her. She doesnt handle that well. She shuts me down when I do it like that. A couple hours later, when I went to her and spoke to her in a normal tone of voice and not, You better wise the eff up, she responded to me better.

Pat presses further, asking why Smith reacted the way he did.

What triggered you? she says.

Disappointment, he says.

What is that from? she says. I was disappointed because, she prompts.

My first thought was like, This kids like me. Shes going to be like me. Shes going to be a discipline problem cuz I was a discipline problem, Smith says. Kind of like a letdown, like what am I doing wrong. So my reaction was to take it out on her immediately. After I calmed down, I spoke to my wife, and my wife handles her a little better than me because were like the same exact person, me and my five-year-old.

OK, so what triggered you was disappointment. It was not with your daughter. It was your own fear that what? Pat says. That she might

Be like me, Kevin says.

The silence in the conference room was louder than any words as everyone processed what Smith had just said. It was the kind of epiphany that comes about after months of therapy. Here, surrounded by peers, Smiths vulnerability was thick, binding.

Its a very deep trigger for you, Pat says. It is a very powerful emotion. The more powerful the emotion, the easier it is to get triggered, which is why its so important to breathe. That level of self-awareness, to go backwards and say, Why? Cuz I was disappointed, cuz Im afraid that shell turn out like me.

When I look at you, I see a wonderful, wonderful man, a wonderful father, a wonderful husband, she continues. That is what I see. A wonderful leader, a wonderful worker, an incredibly supportive human being who is making a massive impact in this world because of decisions you have made to help others. Thats part of you, too. There are many parts of you. You went to this part, this other part. But theres a lot of other parts that you didnt think of.

Smith looks touched and a little uncomfortable.

What could you have done that would have been more effective? Pat asks.

I could have took a breath on the ride home and prepared myself for what would happen and thought about it, he responds.

The power is in restraint, pipes up Jason Merlo, a project manager.

The power is in restraint, Pat repeats.

EDA now makes little cards that say breathe to remind their employees to pause before responding. / Photograph by Mary Clare Fischer

The workshops were just the starting line for Eds transformation of his company. Last year, EDA launched a leadership academy for all manager positions, during which the workers meet three times a year in large groups, with two small groups like what I was witnessing in the conference room in between each bigger session. There are culture classes and town hall meetings that hammer the ideas home even further. EDA now has little cards resembling a gift card that say Breathe. People have literally given them to each other when they need a moment to collect themselves.

About nine months ago, Ed convinced Pat, whom EDAs employees affectionally call Aunt Pat, to drop her other clients and come work for him full-time. He kept saying, I want more, Patricia says. It was hard and scary for me to stop all my other consulting work. But whats going on here is so profound. Its insane. This doesnt go on in other places.

Sitting in her sizable office, she tells the story of one EDA employee whod always been an alpha, a dominating person who always had to have the last say. Eventually, she asked him straight up, What is going on to drive that behavior? He told her his parents had abandoned him when he was 12 years old, and his mother had come back addicted to hard drugs. I was the little boy in the corner who wasnt heard, he said to her.

Smith, too, had dealt with addiction issues in the past and speaks openly about how much personal growth hes had at EDA. Ive only been here a year and a half and for me to buy in, I had to believe it, he says. I would have picked out phoniness. I think I have a pretty good ticker on people. But man, this thing works. Im happier when I open my eyes in the morning.

Smith said he started to buy in when a roofer in a wifebeater tank top was speaking at one of the town hall meetings a regular guy given a platform of authority. John Rakus, EDAs director of estimating, roofing & waterproofing said he got on board when he started to see the effects of emotional intelligence outside of work. Everyone starts out with a certain skepticism, he says. You could argue EI is about how to talk yourself through a situation and manipulate emotions to get what you want. But when you can see it in your personal life, you realize this isnt about squares per man. Its more global. Its hard to have an honest conversation with yourself and say, Im a prick, and I have to change that. But I havent lost it with any family members in the last four years. When you see the impact in your family life, you realize this really isnt work-related.

For several others, the clincher was when one man stood up in a meeting while Ed was talking about the importance of safety on EDAs projects and said, I think youre being hypocritical. If you speak platitudes about safety but then only measure profit, he said, then it smells like hypocrisy. The expressions on many faces in the room said they knew this guy was getting fired. But, instead of getting defensive, Ed used the moment to start a larger discussion about how the company does things and the true meaning of success.

Bringing up this moment, tense even in its memory, in front of a reporter loosens the room up, and other people start throwing out their recollections of the incident. All except one, Jimmy Dougherty, a carpentry foreman whos been sitting silent in the corner. Pat asks him to share his thoughts. He pauses. Then he says, I like seeing everybody as one. It feels like a team. Feels like a family.

Everyone marinates in that sentiment. Although I dont hear it, in that moment, it feels like each person here is letting out a deep breath.

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Why Is This Philly-Area Construction Company Teaching Its Workers to Take Deep Breaths? - phillymag.com

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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How Two Best Friends Are Changing Los Angeles With Their Creative Agency The Edit – Forbes

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Katie Durko and Lauren Fortner

Los Angeles-based best friends Katie Durko and Lauren Fortner left their jobs - in fashion and celebrity partnerships - to found The Edit, a female-led creative social media agency. Launched against the sunny shores of California, they are both dynamic and well-informed, leaving clients immediately at ease after even the first conversation. The Edit thrives, offering approachability paired with results. Their clients reach 50 million people per day on Instagram alone, and nearly 90 million consumers per day across platforms. They know what incentivizes shoppers and what influences millennials. And their catchy cant-miss content and clever tag lines have led them to become one of the most talked-about female-driven businesses out there.

1. How did The Edit begin and what does it offer that wasn't already on the market?

KD: The Edit is not your typical agency. We both love what we do and remain highly involved in all the accounts we work on. When a client signs with us, they know theyre going to get our full time and attention and not be passed on to someone more junior.

LF: We both have over 10 years of experience in digital marketing and werent interested in putting our names on something and letting other people run it or do the grunt work. I will caveat that by saying that while we are hands on, fostering talent and ensuring our team members learn and grow is incredibly important to us. We are committed to building the next generation of digital marketers, but never at the expense of the client.

KD: Right and we can be scrappy and agile because we make the rules. Theres no concept too crazy or too big to try.

2. How has the offering developed since launching?

LF: Our content capabilities and what were able to offer our clients has really expanded as weve grown. We look at what works and where weve been successful and adapt from there. We live in a world where algorithms are constantly changing, so we have to be quick to change too. In terms of our service offering, when Katie and I decided to partner, we had experience in the industry but from very different perspectives. I specialized more in brand partnerships for talent, while Katie had more of an emphasis with brands, specifically in fashion.

KD: Working together, we can offer full-scale social media marketing solutions, from competitor analysis and background research, to execution of digital plans and influencer events. Were Facebook and Instagram partners and are constantly tracking emerging trends so we can be an initial adaptor to the next big thing. Recently were focusing a lot on video, AR, and animation, as we watch whats trending on social, whats working for current clients, and whats not.

An Edit event

3. Tell me about what a client can expect from start to finish when they sign on to work with you?

KD: We tailor our solutions and strategies to each client. Nothing at The Edit is a cookie-cutter strategy. When we sign someone, we make sure to understand exactly what theyre looking for. We define and set our KPIs together, so we can best track success of the strategy. Each client receives a detailed on-boarding with a deep dive into past performance, extensive research on current processes and a competitive analysis.

4. What are some of the joys and pitfalls of working with your best friend?

KD: When we win, its twice as great and when we lose, it is only half as bad. We get to spend so much time together, both at work every day, but also in our personal lives. Having that shared history means we are often on the same page or know what the other is thinking; were in sync.

LF: As female founders, weve encountered our fair share of challenges along the way. Having someone right there beside you to battle those roadblocks, who intrinsically understands what youre going through, especially a best friend, is really important. One of the pitfalls of working with your best friend is that you dont have the benefits of a more detached, professional relationship.

Poosh launch event

5. What might surprise people to learn about the pros and cons of working with your best friend?

LF: The cons are that it is hard to turn off our work brains when were hanging out. Theres a lot of crossover between work and personal life, but thats the nature of this business. We wont know where one ends and the other begins, but we wouldnt have it any other way. We joke about always keeping tabs on each other, and we literally do thanks to Find my Friends.

6. Would The Edit exist without social media? Can you explain?

LF: Absolutely. Social media is obviously a huge part of what we do, but the creative elements and the marketing campaigns and the strategy that drives our social can all be utilized and optimized in other channels. If social were out of the picture (but please keep it alive, Zuckerberg), we would adapt our creativity for other platforms.

KD:A lot of what we do from the content we create to copywriting and graphics is just a different way of approaching more traditional advertising mediums. We also do a lot of influencer marketing and events, which while heavily steeped in social media, is not necessarily a novel concept. Were always alert to how the digital media landscape is shifting- its a part of our job to shift with it. We know that The Edit will lookverydifferent several years down the line. We plan on evolving with the trends to best serve our clients needs.

7. What is something that might surprise people to learn about digital marketing?

KD: Digital marketing is more complex than people realize especially social media which can get a bad rap. People think its superficial or lacks forethought, like were just posting pretty pictures from our cell phone, but digital marketing actually is incredibly analytical. Theres a lot of data that drives the decisions we make. Whether we post a picture with models or a flat-lay product shot is a decision backed by analytics with trackable performance metrics.

LF: As fast-moving and current as social media is, there is long-term strategy and planning involved thats critical to success. Unlike other marketing avenues, social media is incredibly public. The outcome and performance of our work is published for the world to see, so we have to knock it out of the park every time.

Poosh launch event

8. What are some of the most notable trends you are seeing right now and how do you capitalize on them?

KD: Trends that were really seeing explode pretty rapidly now are the growth of comment culture, video, and Instagram group chats. When we see something on the rise, we make sure to scale and learn that skill set so we can integrate it into our existing plans. We want our clients to have the next big thing.Its important to keep up. Not all trends are for all audiences though.

9. What do you know now that you wish you had known starting out?

LF: There are a lot of unknowns when you start your own business. We didnt quite understand how quickly things would take off, and initially we had a lot of trouble delegating. Even as we hired externally and grew our incredible team, we were still protective, so being able to release some of that responsibility and delegate was tough.

10. What does success for The Edit look like?

KD: Success for us is making our clients happy. Of course we love when we sell out of a limited-time collaboration, hit a milestone million Instagram followers in 24 hours, throw a kick-ass activation to celebrate a product launch All of those are incredible wins, but at the end of the day we want our clients to be happy.

11. Walk me through some of the key pinch me moments for the company?

LF: There have been several real pinch me moments. The first one was when we signed the lease on our first office. We thought it would take a lot longer to get to that place and we were just blown away by how quickly it happened. It made things real.

KD: The second pinch me moment was probably when we signed on Kourtney Kardashians company, Poosh, as a client. We got an unexpected call on a Thursday, submitted a brief for consideration on Saturday, talked to her on Sunday, and were launching with her on Monday. So literally over the weekend, our lives changed.

12. Your clients reach 50 million people per day on Instagram alone, and nearly 90 million consumers per day across platforms - what responsibility does that place on them? And you?

LF: Social media, whether you love it or hate it, plays a huge role in todays society. We dont take it lightly that we have an enormous platform. We make sure that the content we produce is something were proud of. It has our name associated with i,t and it reflects back on us. Its an enormous responsibility.

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How Two Best Friends Are Changing Los Angeles With Their Creative Agency The Edit - Forbes

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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‘There Will Be No Darkness’: Laetitia Tamko On The Making Of ‘Vagabon’ – NPR

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Laetitia Tamko's second album, the soon-to-be-released, self-titled Vagabon, is written from the perspective of someone who found not just the space to call home, but also a firm grip on her artistic identity. Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

Laetitia Tamko's second album, the soon-to-be-released, self-titled Vagabon, is written from the perspective of someone who found not just the space to call home, but also a firm grip on her artistic identity.

"I'm naturally soft spoken," Laetitia Tamko says. "But when I sing, I'm not soft spoken."

Much of Infinite Worlds, the first album Tamko recorded as Vagabon, was her with a guitar, singing achingly introspective songs about the search for home and safety. Tamko says when she recorded it, she was uncomfortable with how deep her voice was. But now, hundreds of live performances later, she's embraced it.

She recalls stumbling across a tweet where someone said she sang like she had peanut butter stuck at the roof of her mouth. She gives a self-assured laugh; she thought the image was hilarious.

"I don't know if I'm breaking any singing rules, but to me it doesn't matter," Tamko says. "You know, it's my voice and it's deeply personal and I don't want it to be perfect."

Tamko's second album, the soon-to-be-released, self-titled Vagabon, is written from the perspective of someone who found not just the space to call home, but also a firm grip on her artistic identity, and with it, the luxury of being interested in what happens when carefully set boundaries dissolve. On the new album's "Every Woman," Tamko lets herself sink into the lowest part of her register to sing about generational exhaustion. On "Please Don't Leave the Table," Tamko floats a Destiny's Child reference in a relaxed falsetto: "When you call, say my name, say my name." She tries the folk singer, the popstar and the bedroom indie rocker all on for size.

Tamko is in the middle of a process she calls "the death of [her] imposter syndrome." But the phenomenon feels like it merits a more active phrasing. Tamko is quashing her self-doubt.

She's done with "walking into a space and wanting someone to feel like I'm non-threatening by making myself really, really small." She's also been removing a tendency to downplay the strength of her art.

"I feel like I made an amazing record." She pauses, exasperated. "Why can't I say that?"

***

We are arguably at our healthiest when we set boundaries; when we let a relationship or a project enrich our lives without completely consuming us. But it is also very human to be completely torn asunder.

The music of Vagabon is perfect if you want to get a little heady about this tension. What does it take to feel fully alive without getting eaten alive in the process?

Or, as Tamko puts it, "How do I deal with interpersonal relationships as a person ... whose comfort and safety can easily feel threatened?"

"I'm naturally soft spoken," Laetitia Tamko says. "But when I sing, I'm not soft spoken." Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

"I'm naturally soft spoken," Laetitia Tamko says. "But when I sing, I'm not soft spoken."

"I want to make you / A flood in my / Flood in my heart," Tamko sings on the bright and synthy "Flood." She first read the phrase "flood hands" in a book, though she can't remember which one. "It made me so emotional to read that because at that time I felt like I was so ... fragile, I could really seep through people's fingers."

"Flood" is about realizing that good can come out of our fragility. "It's the vulnerability that comes with putting down the barriers enough to let someone destroy you if that's what's going to happen," Tamko says. "And knowing that I could do that too, to someone else. I think because I've always felt victimized through my various traumas I didn't really see myself in that position having that power."

"I came back around / Knowing you'd wreck my s*** all over again / It's funny how I'll never regret / Going low for you," she sings on "Secret Medicine." Here, Tamko, doesn't so much chide the relatable relationship boomerang as self-destructive, she just marks it as just something worth noting.

Tamko and reigning pop queen Ariana Grande make really different music, but Vagabon and thank u, next, Grande's 2019 album about love and loss, both succeed for one of the same reasons: It is refreshing to hear songs about deeply felt emotions, written from the perspective of a woman who is invested in not just being kind to others, but also kind to herself.

"I grew up with a lot of people who were not interested in being self-aware," Tamko says. "And I made this decision that I was going to be as self-aware as I could be, and really introspective, and really interested in how to be a better version of myself."

Tamko describes Vagabon as a flex: she plays many of the instruments you hear on it, and she learned the digital audio software Logic Pro so she could produce it almost entirely on her own (she is the sole producer credited on all but one song). She did not listen to music while writing it because she didn't want to drown out what was already in her head, and she wanted to make music she couldn't reference anywhere else. Nonesuch Records home to a deep roster of musical veterans like Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson will release the album.

To get pumped up to go into the studio and record, Tamko re-opened herself to music from the outside, and listened to a kind of "game day" mix of artists, mostly female rappers: early Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim.

"My faves are not humble bragging," Tamko says. "They're humble in their actions, but they're not humble."

Tamko was born 26 years ago in Cameroon, but has lived in and around New York City since she was a pre-teen; she's part of the generation that saw hip-hop become pop. Inspired by the collage-like music of Frank Ocean, she found a way to cram all of the sounds that personally move her pop, punk, trap, African music into this recording.

Vagabon feels experimental, perhaps exactly because the person who made it was using tools that were new to her. In her short career, Vagabon has been associated with indie rock, but her new music relies on less on the guitar and more on synths, sequenced drums and strings. Vagabon doesn't necessarily "defy genre," to borrow an overwrought cliche, but wonders why genre even comes up when there's so much more to talk about.

Tamko tries out keyboards at a music shop in Brooklyn. Tamko describes Vagabon as a flex: she plays many of the instruments you hear on it, and she learned the digital audio software Logic Pro so she could produce it almost entirely on her own. Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

Tamko tries out keyboards at a music shop in Brooklyn. Tamko describes Vagabon as a flex: she plays many of the instruments you hear on it, and she learned the digital audio software Logic Pro so she could produce it almost entirely on her own.

***

Tamko can remember the first time she realized music made her feel better than anything else. She thinks she was about three. Her family was in the Cameroonian capital city of Yaound, where she was born and spent much of her childhood. It was a Sunday, at a gathering called a reunion, in a circle of about 25 women, singing together.

Tamko got right in the middle of that circle and she danced. An uncharacteristic behavior, perhaps, for a person who would describe herself as a shy kid. It was a feeling she would spend years chasing.

Tamko's family moved to the U.S. so that her mother could get a law degree. Before she could bring the rest of the family over to New York, Tamko's mother worked the counter at a Jamaican restaurant in Harlem (she eventually graduated from the University of Pennsylvania).

The family moved from Harlem to the Bronx, then to Westchester County, where Tamko attended high school. As a teenager, Tamko begged her parents, to no avail, for voice and guitar lessons.

Her parents eventually surprised her with an acoustic guitar when she was 17, just about to graduate. She remembers screaming when she found the instrument in the bathroom (still in its box from Costco) and then setting to work learning how to play it. She worked through the accompanying instructional DVD many times over and supplemented with UltimateGuitar and YouTube. During boring and lonely 12-hour shifts at her mother's parcel business on the weekends, she flipped on her webcam and played covers with her newest obsession.

Tamko's parents eventually surprised her with an acoustic guitar when she was 17, just about to graduate. She remembers screaming when she found the instrument in the bathroom (still in its box from Costco) and then setting to work learning how to play it. Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

Tamko's parents eventually surprised her with an acoustic guitar when she was 17, just about to graduate. She remembers screaming when she found the instrument in the bathroom (still in its box from Costco) and then setting to work learning how to play it.

Tamko had an understanding with her parents: the guitar was just to be a hobby, for the moments leftover after work, school and chores. She "adapted to that to make them feel more at ease," she says, but watching award shows on TV had given her lofty private goals.

"I'm going to write songs and make an album and win a Grammy one day," Tamko says, letting out a big laugh. "That was the dream!"

Tamko lived with her parents while she attended the engineering program at the City College of New York. She started writing songs towards the end of college, inspired by a classmate, and soon she was playing punk shows at night and driving up to the Hudson Valley on the weekends to record.

She released an EP, Persian Garden, on Bandcamp in 2014.

"I got a drummer from the jazz department at my college and a bassist that was recommended by him," Tamko says. She paid everyone. "Now that I think about it, from the beginning I was ... interested in cultivating my vision without feeling tied to other people's things."

She did this all without telling her parents, stealthily moving her guitar in and out of her car when they weren't around to see.

"My parents always said, 'There is no room for starving artists here. After you finish your degree, do whatever you want,'" Tamko says. "I don't believe they knew how seriously I would take that."

Tamko played a cross-country tour the summer after graduation. She told her parents that it was a trip to see the sights this country had to offer and that her friends would be playing music here and there.

After she got back from that trip, Tamko says, "for many reasons that feel a little too personal to share, it became unlivable in my parents' house." She left with a backpack of her belongings, believing she would never return.

"I think it's ... for some reason, a compelling story to see how a person like me has been hurt, or feels hurt, or feels damned or doomed," Tamko says. She gets visibly emotional as she recalls this time, but prefers to keep the details private. "And I think that's why a lot of times when I'm speaking to anybody in the media, I lead with black joy, because that feels more radical and productive to me than, 'Of course that s*** happened.'"

"I'm constantly thinking about 'no suffer porn, no suffer porn, no suffer porn ... that is not how I want to be talked about," she adds.

After she left her family, Tamko spent her days working as a software engineer in Long Island City, and spent her nights playing DIY shows in the insular and overwhelmingly white Brooklyn indie and punk scene.

"My family wasn't speaking to me, I'm in this transitional period of friends and community where I'm done with college ... I'm in this music thing where I'm new and I haven't been in the scene for that long. I'm black," Tamko says. "I felt so displaced. And so a lot of those songs are about wanting to find my space and feel OK ... demanding that I should take up space."

She packed that demand into 2017's Infinite Worlds, Vagabon's debut album. Her lyrics, in particular, were so idiosyncratic that they make a listener grateful for Tamko's strange mind.

"I'm constantly thinking about 'no suffer porn, no suffer porn, no suffer porn ... that is not how I want to be talked about," Tamko said. Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

"I'm constantly thinking about 'no suffer porn, no suffer porn, no suffer porn ... that is not how I want to be talked about," Tamko said.

In May 2017, Tamko couldn't help but notice that one of Spotify's subway ads bore a passing resemblance to a lyric from "The Embers," which opens Infinite Worlds. "Someone made a playlist called 'sorry I lost your cat' when they could have been making flyers," the billboard read, perhaps not realizing that the playlist's creator-maker had named it after Vagabon's song. The copywriter was right to realize that the phrasing was striking, though, even if they had not gotten to the satisfying second clause "It's just that I was so damn mad" which hits in such a way that it makes you realize exactly the kind of mad Tamko is talking about.

Depending on who is listening and when, Vagabon lyrics can speak to relationships between friends, or romantic partners or between a person and society.

"I don't have it in me to give everyone everything / Take what you need and go" Tamko sings on "Alive and a Well," the final track of Infinite Worlds.

This slipperiness offers an answer to the political pressure that critics tend to put on Tamko's art.

"Because of who I represent and at what time I decided to share this music, it just became this narrative put on me that I was gonna change the world of indie rock," Tamko told The New York Times for its 2017 iteration of the time-old "women in rock" conversation. "I appreciate that, but I'm really not here to change any world."

Tamko quit her day job at the end of March 2017, a month after Infinite Worlds was released, confident enough from the album's success that she could pay her bills as a full-time musician. She still lives on her own, but says she talks to her parents now, a thing she never expected to do again when she left.

Making Vagabon was painful because of how much pressure Tamko puts on herself; she says there was a whole period of time when she was so creatively paralyzed that she couldn't open her computer to work on arranging songs. But it is also the record that documents the happiest era of her life.

"I was feeling myself in a different way, to be honest," she says. "By the time I sat down to make this record, I went from not being sure I'd be OK to touring the world like, a bazillion times and doing the only thing that makes me happy. And ... I'm just different."

***

Tamko walks with Oliver Hill, a session player on keys, guitar and viola, in Brooklyn. Making Vagabon was painful because of how much pressure Tamko puts on herself; she says there was a whole period of time when she was so creatively paralyzed that she couldn't open her computer to work on arranging songs. But it is also the record that documents the happiest era of her life. Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

Tamko walks with Oliver Hill, a session player on keys, guitar and viola, in Brooklyn. Making Vagabon was painful because of how much pressure Tamko puts on herself; she says there was a whole period of time when she was so creatively paralyzed that she couldn't open her computer to work on arranging songs. But it is also the record that documents the happiest era of her life.

Tamko had fun making the bridge of "Flood": A fill of booming drums takes us into the chorus; It's satisfying, but definitely dramatic.

"It's funny, I just wanted to be a little bit extra, kind of showy about it," Tamko says. "And I remember showing it to a friend when I first laid down the demo, and they were like, 'Woah, these drums are very Phil Collins.' And I'm like, 'Who's Phil Collins?'"

The drums are very Phil Collins. Think the iconic drum break in the 1981 smash hit "In the Air Tonight."

"I still don't know who Phil Collins is," Tamko says.

Despite years of longing for more formal training, Tamko has come to see her musical naivete as an advantage. She describes it this way: "If I try to cover a song, I'll play it so wrong that I'll write a song. If I learn a fifth of an African song on guitar, I will learn it the wrong way and I'll make my own thing. That's what I'm protective of."

Tamko is no longer friends with the classmate from engineering school who inspired her to start songwriting; he told her she was "bad at guitar," and people were only interested in her music because she was a black woman.

"I've had bandmates laugh at me because I didn't know how to speak, like, music language," Tamko says. "And a lot of those people went to school for it and studied jazz ... and I thought that was cool. I wanted to learn from them. But they didn't respect me enough to think that they had anything to learn from me."

For her 2019 fall tour with Angel Olsen, Tamko will play venues that can hold more than 2,000 people; she toured with Courtney Barnett and Julien Baker last year.

As we sit in her red minivan and play songs from Vagabon, Tamko tells me that the beat for "Full Moon in Gemini" was a "happy accident."

"I'm just kind of dragging the snare through all these different plugins that I don't know what they are, I don't know what they're doing," Tamko explains. "Just kind of clicking around, dragging, quantizing kind of wrong. And I'm like, hm, I wonder what a 1/32nd snare sounds like ... I do math and I'm like OK, what if it went really fast? How do I make trap hats? Youtubing, 'How to make hi-hats go fast.'"

The song starts with a kind of swirly mix of strings and synth, but when the chorus kicks in, this trap-influenced beat comes along, too, and Tamko's vocals wind through the newfound structure. That production lends a just-right balance to a song about staying still ("And I'll stay, stay with you in our bed / It feels so, so good") and knowing the moment won't last.

She says this process of taking what's in her head and getting it into an arrangement reminds her "very much how I felt as a programmer. Because I understand the concept, I can just get there by free information. Because the hard part is in me."

***

Tamko gave specific instructions for the Vagabon cover shoot: no black, no dark colors or dark lighting.

"There will be no darkness in any of this," she says. "This album is resilience and strength."

In the photo, Laetitia Tamko sits by herself against a deep orange backdrop, wearing a sleeveless black top and a hexagonal blue hat handwoven by the L.A. hatmaker Ariana Valenzuela. Tamko says that "it calls you in and invites a generous listen."

Does it also matter to her that her audience see her face, and know she's black?

"I think subconsciously it does," Tamko answers. "It was time for it not to be ambiguous. It was time for it to be explicit 'cause I'm explicit on the record."

There's an interlude in "Wits About You" a song about not being able to let something or someone go where Tamko makes a thinly-veiled critique of the indie-rock scene in which she found a fraught home.

"I was invited to the party," she sings. "They won't let my people in / Well then, nevermind nevermind nevermind / We don't want to go to your function."

Tamko is careful not to exclude any of her fans, but she notes that because she makes indie-rock music, and because of the scene she came up in, "a whole array of people" end up at her shows. It's clear she is implying that many are white.

Tamko decided to open for a few Jamila Woods dates at the end of 2017. She was fielding other offers, from big artists that she knew personally, but ultimately she chose to tour with Woods, whom she hadn't yet met. She knew that black people went to Jamila Woods shows.

"It felt important for me not just me emotionally, but for me as a musician to be able to play rock music in front of a 98 percent black audience, and for them to see me," Tamko says. "And it almost felt more nerve-wracking, like I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to impress them."

For all of Tamko's emphasis on artistic independence, she also seems intensely interested in community. She says her group text with musician friends Mitski Miyawaki (who performs as just Mitski) and Sasami Ashworth (who performs as SASAMI) "has saved [her] life so many times." In the liner notes of Vagabon, she credits them for being part of the "chosen family" that made the record possible.

Tamko is not interested in being the so-called "Cameroonian girl in indie rock." The question was never whether she was welcome in rock or any popular music genre, for that matter. "I'm African," Tamko says. "Most of your music will date back to that place." Kholood Eid for NPR hide caption

Tamko is not interested in being the so-called "Cameroonian girl in indie rock." The question was never whether she was welcome in rock or any popular music genre, for that matter. "I'm African," Tamko says. "Most of your music will date back to that place."

Tamko tells me she feels lucky to have them and then corrects herself: "It's funny; I stopped using the word 'lucky.' I have friends like that because I'm that friend. It's what I put out into the world and it's what they collectively have put back into me."

When she played a Pitchfork Music Festival after-party in 2017, Tamko specifically asked for Tasha, the Chicago singer-songwriter now signed to Vagabon's former label Father/Daughter, to play with her.

"When I was deciding to finalize the deal I did with Father/Daughter, I had a really long phone call with her about her experience and about the things she learned from working with this label," Tasha says over the phone. "And then when I was putting together tours and I was working on recordings, I kept going back to her because ... she's really gracious and honest about her experience."

Tasha said it felt especially important to hear another black woman tell her it's all right not to compromise, especially early in her career. It also mattered to hear Tamko's music and know it was coming from a black woman.

"There's just a very comforting feeling that happens when you realize the music that maybe you want to make that it's OK for you to do it, because somebody else is doing it," Tasha says.

Tamko is not interested in being the so-called "Cameroonian girl in indie rock." The question was never whether she was welcome in rock or any popular music genre, for that matter.

"I'm African," Tamko says. "Most of your music will date back to that place."

When asked whether the more electronic sounds on Vagabon were in any way an attempt to move beyond the indie-rock scene with all of its hangups, Tamko describes the shift in sound as a "rejection of being pigeonholed." Ultimately, though, she lands on a much simpler answer.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is that this album is me doing whatever the f*** I want because I can do whatever I want, you know?"

Continued here:
'There Will Be No Darkness': Laetitia Tamko On The Making Of 'Vagabon' - NPR

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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Meet the candidates: Jefferson Hills Council – TribLIVE

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Jefferson Hills Council candidates say public safety and transparency in local leadership are at the forefront of issues that need to be addressed in the municipality. Six newcomers will square off on Nov. 5 for three open, four year seats on borough council.

The Trib asked each candidate three questions. Here are their answers.

Karen Bucy

Political affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? I have been attending JH Council meetings since I retired from teaching in South Park School District. My desire was to become more informed on local issues. I want JH Council to treat residents and other JH council members with respect and dignity. I believe that I can help restore common sense, civility and a spirit of cooperative alliance on the board in order to protect the residents of our community. We should be able to work together and move forward productively.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Currently, the UPMC hospital issue and EQT fracking issue seem to be at rest. However, a watchful presence regarding the two issues still needs to be in place. As a result, the internal JH Community tissue of the Jefferson Hills Firehall merger remains in the forefront.

This is a personal issue for me since my father, Ned Barbarich, was a longest-living lifetime member of Pleasant Hills Fire Department before his passing. I sincerely appreciate all the men and women who volunteer their time and service to our community. It is disheartening and disappointing that the JH Fire Department merger has come to a standstill and caused unnecessary division in our community. Fire safety and protection for this entire community without causing an additional tax burden to our residents is a priority. Since our JH community consists of 16.9 square miles, it is essential to have 3 local operating departments spread out among the borough to serve both our residents and schools in the event of a fire. I fully recognize that the decrease in volunteers has caused a manpower issue. Therefore, a consolidation of the three local departments can serve to provide additional assistance, equipment, and services. Communication from all the parties involved must be resumed so that a mutually agreed upon agreement of facilities, workforce and by-laws can be agreed upon.

What do voters need to know about you? I have lived in Jefferson Hills for the past 18 years with my husband and son. I am a retired South Park School District reading and English 7th and 8th (grade) teacher. I have over 30 years of experience working with unions, collective bargaining process and contracts. Respecting and listening to a variety of peoples opinions and researching the facts of the communitys issues is a crucial component to be a public servant. Communication, long term planning, and ability to the bring a compromised closure to issues are strengths that I possess.

Nicole Ruscitto

Party affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for office? I have always been a proud community member of Jefferson Hills. With a focus on property owners rights, I felt compelled to enter the race. I formerly lived at the border of Pleasant Hills and Jefferson Borough. Having strong roots in a community speaks volumes as to the care and commitment I will express. With that said, I also believe that transparency must be at the forefront of our new elected leadership. I have a vested interest in responsible and transparent decision making, regardless of the issue at hand. I welcome the input and challenges ahead and strive to keep the aesthetic character I love about Jefferson Hills at the forefront for our future generations. Community must come first regarding local business, public safety and appropriate community development.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Positive communication skills and transparency must be at the forefront of local government. Being in education for 22 years, I have learned that listening and evaluating input is the best way to learn and lead. If elected, I promise to lend my ear (to) the community monthly at the local borough building. Local residents need a forum other than the monthly council meetings to be heard. I speak from experience that it can be somewhat intimidating to voice concerns at a council meeting.

What should voters know about you? I am a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School and currently have two children in the district. I have taught and coached children in public schools for over 22 years. My late father, George Stoicovy and mother, Monica Stoicovy started their teaching careers in the West Jefferson Hills School District. My father was a beloved guidance counselor and football coach and my mother a librarian. I have a bachelors degree and a masters degree in education and hold dear the fabric of our community and strive to preserve its character for our future generations.

Keith Reynolds

Political affiliation: Democrat

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? Our community is important to me. I am born and raised here and this is where my family has always called home. Recently, I have questioned our current councils decision making on a number of items and I believe that if I am going to question it, I should also be willing to roll up my sleeves and get involved. Being a member of council comes with the responsibility of looking at your neighbors eye to eye knowing that you did your best to protect their families and lead this community into the future. It is not about political parties and agendas, the residents of Jefferson Hills deserve only the best and I am committed to delivering the best possible community for them to raise their families.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? The culture in which our current council has governed our community. Residents elect council to the position and council should always keep the communitys best interest and safety as priority number one. For far too long, we have allowed real estate developers to influence our councils decisions. Growth is good and should be encouraged, but not at the expense of our community. Members of the community have the right to approach council with their concerns and be treated with respect. I promise that I will bring the community back to the people.

What do voters need to know about you? Being born and raised in Jefferson Hills I have always been active in the community and will always continue to do so. I am not a person that will not stand on a fence and waver on issues, the community will always know how I stand. I stood behind the residents in the Say No to UPMC movement because I felt they were mistreated and deserved better. I stand 100% behind the residents of Gill Hall in the recertification of their volunteer firehall. The Gill Hall section of Jefferson Hills is the fastest growing area and we need to take responsibility for their protection. With the decertification of Gill Hall VFC in January 2019, the residents have gone without fire protection from their neighborhood firehall. Having the residents rely on the neighboring fire companies to travel to their area for fire protection is unacceptable in my eyes. Our taxes are high enough, our community deserves better.

Melissa Girman-Steffey

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? After volunteering on the Jefferson Hills Recreation Board for nine years, I have experienced first hand what it is like to work with a cohesive team that has the best intentions when it comes to improving and growing our community. As a mother of three children, I have developed a strong desire to play a more active role in the decision making process that will lead to the betterment of our community.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? There are a number of items that need addressed within Jefferson Hills, but the main issue that should be focused on is the lack of a functioning fire department in the Gill Hall area. Safety and security for the residents will be at the forefront of the agenda.

What do voters need to know about you? I have worked with the current members on council seeking approval for community events, upgrading fields, refreshing our parks and pavilions and seeking ADA grants for a future walkway and playground additions at Andrew Reilly Memorial Park (885 field). Overlapping strategies between council, boards, organizations and individuals will help to ensure the success of Jefferson Hills. I believe open communication is the key to success within every aspect of decision making.

James D. Kingsley

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for office? To combine my business experience and knowledge gained as a committed, active community member to help us achieve the goals of Jefferson Hills as a safe, financially responsible and well-run municipality with forward-looking leadership.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Public safety is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed in Jefferson Borough. Local government has the responsibility in emergency situations to provide the quickest, best trained and equipped first responders that is economically feasible.

What do voters need to know about you? I remain enthusiastic about this growing community where Ive lived and raised my children during the past 35 years. If elected, I pledge to work to create long-term solutions that benefit everyone.

Michael Lewis

Party affiliation: Republican

Municipality: Jefferson Hills

Why did you decide to run for election? I just stepped down as CEO of my company and was looking to get involved with the community. With a background of building and running a business from the beginning, I felt I could use those skills and experience to benefit the community.

What is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed? Ensuring that there is transparency in all of the issues that are being addressed in the community. The issue with UPMC was a major concern for many people. Regardless of which side you are on, there were meetings and discussions that happened behind closed doors that were concerning to members of the community that no one really wanted to talk about. It appeared that decisions were made to allow UPMC to build without concerns of the impact to the community.

What do voters need to know about you? I spent the last 25 years of my career owning a company where my first concern was my employees. My first thought is how can I help others and what can I do to better their lives and provide them with an opportunity to enhance their careers. Putting the needs of others first is something that I have spent my career doing so it is something I look to do as a member of council.

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Meet the candidates: Jefferson Hills Council - TribLIVE

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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Inside a Brazen Scheme to Woo China: Gifts, Golf and a $4,254 Wine – The New York Times

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Mr. Cohrs shared those concerns with the banks lawyers, including Richard Walker, a general counsel. They concluded that Mr. Zhang was operating inside the law, three people familiar with those discussions told The Times.

Mr. Zhang kept going. In 2006 he turned to another consultant named Huang to help the bank secure a role in the I.P.O. of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The stock offering was set to be the worlds largest ever. The banks handling the transaction reaped not only huge fees but also coveted bragging rights.

That man, Huang Xianghui, was lacking in banking experience, and a background check found that the Beijing company he claimed to work for did not appear to exist at the address on his business card. But what he did have, according to the banks documents, was a previous affiliation with PetroChina, the state oil company. Mr. Zhang hired him.

Mr. Huangs original contract said he would receive $3 million for services that were solely focused on the energy industry. In a draft, someone crossed out the energy industry and wrote ICBC, a reference to the giant state-owned bank. Deutsche Bank went on to win a high-profile role in the I.P.O.

The success ingratiated Mr. Zhang with his superiors, especially Mr. Ackermann. Mr. Zhang would escort him to meetings with top Chinese leaders, including the president and premier, as well as to gatherings with cultural and academic experts, Mr. Ackermann said. While at Deutsche Bank, Mr. Zhang was appointed to a top government advisory body, signaling his insider status.

He introduced me to all sorts of people, Mr. Ackermann said in the interview. He was always an honest person and had good ethical standards.

But Mr. Cohrs, who was the head of investment banking, warned the companys lawyers that he was scared of how Lee Zhang was doing business and whether there was money being passed around in envelopes, the documents show.

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Inside a Brazen Scheme to Woo China: Gifts, Golf and a $4,254 Wine - The New York Times

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:47 pm

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