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10 Best Cities for Love This Valentine’s Day

Anyone who’s seen “Sleepless in Seattle” knows Valentine’s Day on top of the Empire State Building is easier said than done. But what if you’re looking for a date in Washington, DC or Atlanta? Turns out, these are great places to mingle.

To help you find love this Saturday, we looked at cities with more than 250,000 residents and identified those with the highest percentage of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes who could afford a night on the town. Specifically, we ranked the top 10 cities according to:

  • The percentage of singles.
  • The percentage of singles who moved to town in the past year.
  • The median disposable income among single residents (median income minus median rent).
  • The number of restaurants, movie theaters and other date spots per capita.

Based on that data, the 10 best cities for love are:

  1. Washington, DC
  2. Atlanta
  3. Boston
  4. St. Louis
  5. Denver
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Minneapolis
  8. Nashville
  9. San Francisco
  10. Raleigh

Check out the graphic below for more details about the best places to find love this Valentine’s Day, or visit Zillow Research to learn more about our methodology.

Blog_Valentines2015_Zillow_b_01

 

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The hammer comes down on Brian Williams

by Rem Rieder

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay. The suspension comes just a week after he apologized for “misremembering” a military incident while reporting overseas. VPC

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NBC News had to do something to stanch the bleeding.

The Brian Williams situation was getting worse and worse, with a steady media pounding for the embattled anchor and new suggestions of past misdeeds surfacing daily, some seemingly serious, some seemingly sketchy.

And so it did, suspending Williams without pay for six months Tuesday night. That’s quite a hit, and quite a humiliation for a journalist at the top of his profession.

But this may well not be the end of the story. In announcing Williams’ punishment, NBC News President Deborah Turness noted that the investigation of the anchor was ongoing. And she said, somewhat ominously, that the investigation was wider than the incident that triggered the scandal: Williams’ now-recanted story about being in a helicopter in Iraq that had been hit by enemy fire and forced down.

“While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003,” Turness wrote in a statement. “It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken than that last line.

And here’s where Williams’ future risks lie. She went on, “In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field.”

Questions have been raised about Williams talking about his experiences covering Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and while working in the Middle East. In the former, his accounts of seeing a body floating in the French Quarter, which saw little flooding, and encountering menacing gangs in his hotel have been challenged. In the latter, Williams changed his account from having rockets fly in front of his chopper to directly beneath it while covering Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006.

One of the discouraging things about this episode is the way people who know better, including a number of Williams’ fellow anchors, have minimized what Williams had done while heaping praise on his character. It’s one thing to be loyal to friends and colleagues. But an anchor simply can’t play fast and loose with the truth, whether on the newscast or on Letterman. An anchor’s primary job, by far, is communicating honestly with the public.

Tough, maybe, but as an anchor you simply are held to a very high standard.

I’m glad that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke sees the situation more clearly. “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” Burke said. “His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”

Burke went on to say that Williams deserves a “second chance.” That’s an assessment about which reasonable people can disagree.

But the future depends on where the investigation headed by Richard Esposito, head of NBC’s investigative team, goes. Not to mention the digging by other news outlets that the chopper incident set in motion. If this was an isolated incident, that’s one thing. If there is a pattern, game over.

 

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The DoSomething lessons

shanecharity

by Seth -

DoSomething is a stellar success, a fast-growing non-profit that’s engaging with millions of young people around the world. Most organizations can learn something from their recent experiences. Basically, their customers changed. They changed how they consumed media, how they connected with each other and how they acted. If it is happening among teenagers now, it will happen to your audience soon.

Here’s some of what they chose to do:

  1. In a short-attention span, long-tail world, wide might be better than deep. In a typical year, DoSomething would launch 30 projects for their millions of members to take action on. Each project was refined and designed for maximum engagement. Last year, they rethought their process and launched SEVEN TIMES as many projects–more than 200. With the same staff.
  2. Being present in the moment is a great way to engage with people who live in the moment (teenagers). Because they can invent and launch a project in days instead of weeks or months, it’s way more likely that a project will be relevant. More important, they now live almost exclusively in texts, the most urgent permission medium of all.
  3. In a short-attention span world, sometimes you have to go deep, especially when it’s personal. DoSomething has invested a huge amount of effort and money into building a crisis hotline that works by SMS. The data they’ve compiled is stunning, but the lives they’ve saved tell the real story.
  4. Change shouldn’t be made for change’s sake. Change should happen because you care enough to make a difference.

Most organizations go too slow, study things too much and most of all, work to not matter too much, because mattering is a good way to get noticed and getting noticed might get you in trouble. The upside of working in a fast-changing world is that you regularly get a new chance to reshuffle the deck and start mattering. Here’s their new book on a workplace culture that embraces this new posture.

The work non-profits do is too important to be afraid of failure, and their work is too urgent to honor every sacred cow. The same thing might be said for the work each of us do.

 

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Massive Anthem health insurance hack exposes millions of customers’ details

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Health insurer Anthem Inc, which has nearly 40m US customers, said late on Wednesday that hackers had breached one of its IT systems and stolen personal information relating to current and former consumers and employees.

The No. 2 health insurer in the United States said the breach did not appear to involve medical information or financial details such as credit card or bank account numbers.

The information accessed during the “very sophisticated attack” did include names, birthdays, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data, the company said.

Anthem said that it immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability and reported the attack to the FBI. Cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc said it had been hired to help Anthem investigate the attack.

The company did not say how many customers and staff were affected, but the Wall Street Journal earlier reported it was suspected that records of tens of millions of people had been taken, which would likely make it the largest data breach involving a U.S. health insurer.

Anthem had 37.5m medical members as of the end of December.

“This attack is another reminder of the persistent threats we face, and the need for Congress to take aggressive action to remove legal barriers for sharing cyber threat information,” US Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement late Wednesday.

The FBI had warned last August that healthcare industry companies were being targeted by hackers, publicising the issue following an attack on US hospital group Community Health Systems Inc that resulted in the theft of millions of patient records.

Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by patients or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.

Security experts say cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion US healthcare industry, which has many companies still reliant on ageing computer systems that do not use the latest security features.

Anthem said it would send a letter and email to everyone whose information was stored in the hacked database. It also set up an informational website, and will offer to provide a credit-monitoring service.

Anthem is in the business of escalating healthcare costs, acting as an unnecessary middleman, denying coverage and claims, and shafting Americans with overly complex and exploitative billing. This country would be better off if they ceased to exist. And yet somehow, their 20% or higher administrative costs didn’t pay for any kind of competent digital security infrastructure. But it probably did pay for Picassos hanging in the boardroom.

 

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The truth about admissions

by Seth icn.seths.head

One in five applicants to Harvard and Stanford are completely qualified to attend—perhaps 20% of those that send in their applications have the smarts, guts and work ethic to thrive at these schools and to become respected alumni.

These schools further filter this 20% by admitting only 5% of their applicants, or about one in four of those qualified. And they spend a huge amount of time sorting and ranking and evaluating to get to the final list.

They do this even though there is zero correlation between the students they like the most and any measurable outcomes. The person they let in off the waiting list is just as likely to be a superstar in life as they one they chose first.

Worth saying again: In admissions, just as in casting or most other forced selection processes, once you get past the selection of people who are good enough, there are few selectors who have a track record of super-sorting successfully. False metrics combined with plenty of posturing leading to lots of drama.

It’s all a hoax. A fable we’re eager to believe, both as the pickers and the picked (and the rejected).

What would happen if we spent more time on carefully assembling the pool of ‘good enough’ and then randomly picking the 5%? And of course, putting in the time to make sure that the assortment of people works well together…

[For football fans: Tom Brady and Russell Wilson (late picks who win big games) are as likely outcomes as Peyton Manning (super-selected). Super Bowl quarterbacks, as high-revenue a selection choice as one can make, come as often in late rounds as they do in the first one.]

[For baseball fans: As we saw in Moneyball, the traditional scouting process was essentially random, and replacing it by actually correlated signals changed everything.]

What would happen if rejection letters said, “you were good enough, totally good enough to be part of this class, but we randomly chose 25% of the good enough, and alas, you didn’t get lucky”? Because, in fact, that’s what’s actually happening.

What would happen if casting directors and football scouts didn’t agonize about their final choice, but instead spent all that time and effort widening the pool to get the right group to randomly choose from instead? (And in fact, the most talented casting directors are in the business of casting wide nets and signing up the good ones, not in agonizing over false differences appearing real–perhaps that’s where the word ‘casting’ comes from).

It’s difficult for the picked, for the pickers and for the institutions to admit, but if you don’t have proof that picking actually works, then let’s announce the randomness and spend our time (and self-esteem) on something worthwhile instead.

 

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10 Tips for Succeeding as an Entrepreneur

Richard-Branson-WhiteKnightTwo

by -

If you want to succeed in running your own company but don’t have all the answers, a serial entrepreneur is one of the best people to ask for advice. One such fount of knowledge you might consider is Mitch Berk, CEO of the upscale matchmaking service Selective Search, who has more than 35 years’ experience launching and developing businesses, as well as working on marketing campaigns involving the likes of the Rolling Stones, Kenny Rogers, and Tim McGraw.

Here’s his advice for succeeding as an entrepreneur.

1. Have a clear vision.
When you launch your business, you must be crystal clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. How is what you’re offering the world unique? How does it stack up compared with the competition? What will you do to implement your vision?

2. Believe in yourself.
If you don’t, no one else will. In fact, your conviction must be unflappable in the face of the inevitable testing of your spirit. “Positive energy breeds positive outcomes,” Berk says. “You can never show weakness or a lack of commitment to what you’re trying to do.”

3. Cultivate resiliency.
This may be the most critical trait of any successful entrepreneur, considering that getting beaten up is one thing you can count on more than anything else. “Get used to it,” Berk says. “You [have to] forget about the pains of yesterday and bring all of your positive energy.”

4. Hire smart and committed people.
Hire for character as much as for qualifications. Then, when your company hits bumps in the road, you can rest assured that the very best people are on your side. “Look into their souls to assess whether they’re committed, quality people,” he says.

5. Seek to develop innovation.
Innovation–particularly anything that can be patented or protected–will separate your company from the competition, increase demand for your products or services, and increase your equity when it comes to thinking about your exit strategy. “There’s no place in any business for me-too products or services. There’s no barrier to entry. They get knocked off too easily,” he says.

6. Develop an advisory board.
Smart people surround themselves with wise, trustworthy, and experienced mentors who can lend their advice when it comes to short- and long-term strategy and financial decisions. “You can give this board real authority to have oversight or you can just ask them to serve as advisers, but either way, the kind of information and perspective that you’ll gain from these kinds of smart people will be motivating, stimulating, and very helpful,” he says.

7. Strive to build operating profits and equity value.
While you may be focused on making money and maximizing profits, it’s equally important to properly manage your cash flow. “As an entrepreneur, you’ll make your decisions differently and you’ll operate the company differently if equity value is a parallel objective to profit-taking from the start,” he says.

8. Don’t take any shortcuts.
You’ll never have enough budget to do everything you want, therefore you must prioritize what’s really important and execute it at the highest level possible. “This will prevent the entrepreneur from having to spend more time and more money redoing items that were developed as a Band-Aid approach,” he says.

9. Understand that cash is king.
Your cash flow is what keeps you alive, and the lack of it results in shortcuts, bad decision-making, and taking on too much debt. “All these things can be disastrous in terms of the longevity and livelihood of your business,” he says.

10. Make your good ideas scalable.
Make every decision as if your company will someday be 100 times larger than it is. “There’s a unique value to a scalable business model from day one,” he says. “At some point, that scalability will provide equity…[that] will make you feel gratified for all the long hours of hard work and all the pressure and sacrifices you make to build your business.”

Source: Christina Desmarais / Inc.

 

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Optimistic time (vs. honest time)

wef

by Seth Godin –

Optimistic time seems like a good idea. “We’ll ship in January.” “The conference will start at noon.” “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

The hope is that the expectation of completion will raise our expectations and increase the chances that something will actually happen.

In fact, though, there are huge costs to optimistic time. When you announce things based on optimism, the rest of the world you’re engaging with builds plans around you and your announcement. And the cost of the person who doesn’t have your software or is sitting around a meeting room for hours waiting is high indeed.

The alternative is honest time. Time without recourse or negotiation. The Metro North train leaves at 5:52. Not 5:55, no matter how much you want it to wait.

The software ships, the conference starts–at precisely when we say it will. So the world plans on it and depends on it and effectiveness grows.

It doesn’t ship because it’s ready. It ships because it’s due.

(Amazingly, this rule makes things ready a lot more often).

It’s a point of view and a contract with yourself. It ships when I said it would.

 

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