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The latest news from Life

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    royal caribbean symphony of the seas

    • Royal Caribbean's 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship.
    • It debuted in March and spent the summer in Europe before coming to the US in November.
    • The ship's most expensive suite can cost over $170,000, depending on the cruise.


    For Royal Caribbean, bigger is better. 

    In March, the cruise line debuted the world's largest cruise ship, the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas, which follows the previous record holder, Royal Caribbean's 226,963-ton Harmony of the Seas. But according to CEO Michael Bayley, a ship's size is a function of the company's desire to pack enough dining, entertainment, and lodging options to make all of its passengers happy — not a goal in itself.

    "When we set out to design ships originally in the concept phase, we don't get caught up in size. We really get caught up in concept and what we're trying to deliver," he said in an interview with Business Insider.

    At 1,188 feet long and over 215 feet wide, the Symphony of the Seas has a wide variety of food and entertainment options, including 22 restaurants, 42 bars and lounges, theaters, an ice rink, and a zip line.

    Here's a look inside the world's largest cruise ship.

    SEE ALSO: A lawyer who reps cruise-ship workers reveals the most shocking thing he's heard about their job

    The Symphony of the Seas can hold up to 6,680 passengers.

    The ship took three years to build.

    Customers can choose from 2,759 rooms.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman think sad upset

    • The signs that someone is lying aren't always easy to decipher.
    • And, unfortunately, there's no way to determine whether or not someone's being honest with 100% certainty.
    • But there are some obvious signs that someone might be lying. Keep reading for a list of signs you can watch out for.

    How can you tell if someone is lying to you?

    Well, it's complicated.

    Research by Dr. Leanne ten Brinke, a forensic psychologist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and her collaborators, suggests that our instincts for judging liars are actually fairly strong — but our conscious minds sometimes fail us.

    Luckily, there are signs we can look for when trying to detect a lie.

    Dr. Lillian Glass, behavioral analyst, body language expert, and "The Body Language of Liars" author, said when trying to figure out if someone is lying, you first need to understand how the person normally acts. Certain habits, like pointing or over-sharing, might be perfectly within character for an individual.

    Keep in mind that these signs are just possible indicators of dishonesty — not definite proof. Plus, some liars are so seasoned that they might get away with not exhibiting any of these signs.

    With that in mind, here are some signs that someone might be lying to you:

    SEE ALSO: 15 signs your coworker is a psychopath

    DON'T MISS: 4 signs your job isn't enough for you anymore

    SEE ALSO: There's a lesson for any manager or exec in how United handled its PR nightmare

    1. People who are lying tend to change their head position quickly

    If you see someone suddenly make a head movement when you ask them a direct question, they may be lying to you about something.

    "The head will be retracted or jerked back, bowed down, or cocked or tilted to the side," said Glass.

    This will often happen right before the person is expected to respond to a question.

    2. Their breathing may also change

    When someone is lying to you, they may begin to breathe heavily, Glass said. "It's a reflex action."

    When their breathing changes, their shoulders will rise and their voice may get shallow, she added. “In essence, they are out of breath because their heart rate and blood flow change. Your body experiences these types of changes when you’re nervous and feeling tense — when you lie.”

    3. They tend to stand very still

    It's common knowledge that people fidget when they get nervous, but Glass said that you should also watch out for people who are not moving at all.

    "This may be a sign of the primitive neurological 'fight,' rather than the 'flight,' response, as the body positions and readies itself for possible confrontation," said Glass. "When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    per se new york restaurant michelin

    • Five New York City restaurants earned the highest Michelin rating for 2019. 
    • The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, Masa, and Per Se were all awarded three stars.
    • Two of those, Le Bernardin and Per Se, have consistently topped Michelin ratings for 13 years — every year since Michelin started ranking NYC restaurants in 2006.


    Five restaurants in New York City were recently awarded one of the highest honors in the industry: three coveted Michelin stars.

    The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, Masa, and Per Se, all in Manhattan, topped the NYC guide for 2019. All five restaurants are on the pricier side, with meals falling in the $75 and higher category, according to the Michelin guide.

    Two of the restaurants, Le Bernardin and Per Se, have won the highest Michelin rating 14 times, every year since the restaurant guide was established in New York City in 2006.

    Le Bernardin, a seafood restaurant in Midtown West, was opened in 1986 by a sibling duo from Paris who had already established the restaurant there in 1972. It's now run by one of the siblings, Maguy Le Coze, and chef Eric Ripert.

    Read more: Michelin just announced its 2019 New York City restaurant list — and 16 restaurants made the list for the first time

    "When the definitive history of NYC's dining scene is written, Le Bernardin will have a chapter all to itself," reads Michelin's description of the restaurant. "...Seafood restaurants have no hiding place when it comes to cooking fish or crustaceans and this kitchen always hits its marks — whether that's poaching halibut, pan-roasting monkfish, baking striped bass or searing tuna."

    A glimpse from the pass: CAVIAR TARTARE Filet Mignon-Kampachi-Osetra Caviar Tartare; Lightly Smoked Dashi Gelée

    A post shared by Le Bernardin (@lebernardinny) on Apr 10, 2017 at 9:24am PDT on

    Per Se is a newer establishment, opened in 2004 by chef Thomas Keller

    "The kitchen's sourcing is legendary and will make you think again about ingredients you consider familiar," reads the Michelin guide. "For instance, the milk-poached poularde is so exceptionally succulent and flavorsome that any chicken you subsequently sample will seem a disappointment."

    Sixteen restaurants in the city earned Michelin stars for the first time, while five others saw their status elevated: Gabriel Kreuther, Kosaka, Le Coucou, Sushi Nakazawa, and Tuome. In total, 76 New York City restaurants received stars for 2019. 

    Michelin defines a three-star rating as "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey." The stars are based on five criteria: the quality of ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, and value for money and consistency between visits.

    SEE ALSO: Only 10 guests can eat at this Michelin-starred restaurant per night, where a meal costs $600 and the dining room is transformed by high-tech lights, sounds, and scents throughout the evening

    DON'T MISS: 19 Michelin-starred New York City restaurants where you can get lunch for $50 or less

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The author of 'Boy Erased' reveals what gay conversion therapy is really like — and how he survived it

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    Travis Kalanick

    • Travis Kalanick's net worth is $5.45 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
    • Kalanick keeps his personal life fairly under wraps, but it's clear he spends much of his fortune on real estate and travel.
    • He has no clear ventures into philanthropy. 


    Travis Kalanick co-founded Uber in 2009. But, after a series of scandals and a workplace culture where discrimination and sexual harassment were the norm, Kalanick resigned as CEO in 2017. 

    Though he's no longer leading the global ride-hailing company, Kalanick remains wealthy. He's worth $5.45 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    Here's how he spends his fortune:

    SEE ALSO: Tim Cook is worth $625 million and leads a $1 trillion company — but he reportedly buys discounted underwear and wants to give his money away after paying for his nephew's tuition

    Travis Kalanick presently has a reported net worth of $5.45 billion. Much of that is from holding 7% of Uber's stock, a company now valued at $76 billion.

    Source: Bloomberg

    As Business Insider previously reported, he was, up until recently, relatively "cash-poor for a billionaire." But his liquid assets saw a boost after he sold $1.4 billion in Uber shares to Japanese tech giant SoftBank.

    Source:Business Insider

    Kalanick grew up in the middle-income Los Angeles neighborhood of Northridge. He wanted to be a spy when he grew up.

    Source:Business Insider, LA Times

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    panic room jodie foster


    Forget penthouse views and rooftop pools. The ultra-wealthy are shelling out up to $500,000 for an unexpected amenity: luxurious panic rooms complete with flat-screen TVs, high-end décor, and even bars.

    "Panic rooms have become more popular, particularly in London, especially with international clients from the Middle East and Russia, where they are prevalent," Richard Westell, commercial sales manager for Safe and Bolt Co. and Opulent Safes, companies that make and install safes, vaults, and panic rooms, told Mansion Global. "These people want to replicate what they have in their other houses."

    In New York City, some members of the urban elite have built panic rooms into opulent homes such as an $88 million Upper East Side mansion that the New York Times called an "urban fortress." Internationally, Business Insider Australia reported in February 2018 that American billionaire Peter Thiel was building a panic room into his $4.8 million house in New Zealand.

    Of course, safety is still paramount in these fancy safe rooms, which are made of blast-proof and bulletproof material. But some have decorated their panic rooms to look like a 1920s speakeasy and or a Ralph Lauren catalog, as Chris Cosban, the owner of New York-based Covert Interiors, which makes luxury panic rooms for the elite of New York City and the Hamptons, told Mansion Global.

    These luxurious panic rooms cost between $50,000 and $550,000 for the basic armored room, and more for the furnishings and décor, according to Mansion Global.

    Interest in luxe panic rooms has spiked as mass shootings become more and more prevalent, said Chris Acevedo of Panic Room USA, a panic room firm based in Parkland, Florida.

    "The volume of our business increases commiserate to the increase in gun violence," he told the site.

    After decreasing for years, homicides and suicides that involve guns have been on the rise, according to recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    SEE ALSO: New York City has more penthouses available than it can fill — and it suggests a change in the way wealthy people are looking at luxury real estate

    DON'T MISS: Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich owns the second-largest yacht in the world and a customized airplane with a 30-person banquet hall — see how else he spends his fortune of at least $11 billion

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The author of 'Boy Erased' reveals what gay conversion therapy is really like — and how he survived it

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    Hotel President Wilson 1

    • Some luxury hotels avoid posting their most expensive and exclusive rooms online.
    • Many of the rooms are available only for well-connected clientele who have heard of the rooms via word of mouth — and have the funds to pay for them.
    • Hotels keep their rooms unlisted for a variety of reasons, including to protect their assets and to create buzz.

    How are you supposed to book a room that isn't listed on a hotel's website?

    Well, the point, as reported by Bloomberg, is that you probably can't, unless you're connected enough to have heard about it by word of mouth.

    That's often the case with ultra-luxurious rooms and suites that high-end hotels purposely omit from their listings. There are no photographs, no descriptions, and no prices available; to anyone who isn't in the know, it's as if they don't exist.

    Hotels keep such rooms secret for a variety of reasons, whether protecting the hotel's assets or protecting the guest's identity and privacy.

    Then, of course, there's the thrill of exclusivity. As The New York Times put it, hotels use these unlisted rooms "as a way to delight valued guests or generate buzz."

    Read more:A 5-star boutique in Switzerland with a world-famous infinity pool no longer has to pay for advertising, thanks to Instagram

    These rooms go by a variety of terms — owner's suites, partnership suites — but one thing they have in common is a hefty price tag.

    Take, for example, Blue Lagoon— one of Iceland's most recognizable tourist attractions. The Retreat is a luxury hotel with 62 suites that can be booked online, some of which offer direct access to the lagoon. But tucked away within The Retreat is The Blue Lagoon Suite. There's no mention of it on The Retreat's site, but, according to Bloomberg, it goes for $10,050 a night — and requires a minimum two-night stay.

    Booking details vary for these unlisted rooms. In some cases, an interested guest has to call ahead and specifically request the suite. Other hotels require that their penthouse suites be booked by email in advance, so that managers have time to vet the guest before making a decision.

    Even if booking an unlisted hotel room is a bit (or a lot) out of your budget, there are still ways to customize your five-star hotel experience with some semisecret perks. That can include free Champagne or chocolate-covered strawberries and even special decorations in your room.

    And hotels aren't the only businesses that build a name for some of their products — if not their entire brands — by choosing not to advertise them. Consider Goyard, a two-century-old Parisian brand.

    As Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower previously reported: "Goyard's prime press strategy is silence. It forgoes any advertising, e-commerce, and celebrity endorsements. It rarely grants interviews and very occasionally makes products available to the mass market."

    Clearly, in some cases, not talking about your luxury product is the best way to make people want it.

    SEE ALSO: The world's 10 most expensive hotel suites

    READ MORE: This futuristic hotel is going to be built at the base of a glacier in remote, northern Norway — and it looks like it's straight out of a sci-fi movie

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The author of 'Boy Erased' reveals what gay conversion therapy is really like — and how he survived it

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    wine friends

    • Picking the right wine to bring to a holiday party can be tricky — you want it to complement the food being served and you want everyone to like it.
    • We talked to a sommelier and beverage expert for her picks on the best bottles of wine to bring to seven different types of holiday parties.
    • Our expert gave bottle suggestions at three different price points: under $20, $20 to $50, and $50 and up.

    'Tis the season for parties — and unlimited trips to the wine store.

    From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas, it's not surprising that wine consumption spikes in October, November, and December, according to The Beverage Spot.

    Bringing the right bottle to any holiday party or dinner can be tricky — there's a lot of pressure to pick a bottle that complements the food you'll be eating and guests' palates, especially if you're on a budget. 

    We talked to Gretchen Thomas, sommelier and vice president at Del Frisco's Grille and Barcelona Wine Bar, to get her picks on the best wines to bring for eight different holiday occasions. The holidays can get expensive, so we included three different price points: under $20, $20 to $50, and $50 and up.

    From Friendsgiving to your best friend's Secret Santa party, here are the best wines to bring to your next holiday party.

    SEE ALSO: The 3 most important things to look for on a wine label, according to an expert

    DON'T MISS: 12 secrets to enjoying the perfect bottle of wine, according to wine experts

    Family Thanksgiving reunion: Pinot noir

    Under $20: Montinore Estate, Willamette Valley

    $20 to $50: Anthill Farms, Anderson Valley

    $50 and up: Domaine de la Cote, Santa Rita Hills

    According to Thomas, Thanksgiving needs a wine that can bridge different flavors and textures since sweet sides and sauces are often served with the meal.

    "The wine also needs to please many palates and work as a complement (not a scene stealer) to what is the most important dinner of the year for many American families," she said. "A fruity, medium to full-bodied west coast Pinot Noir works great for this."

    Friendsgiving feast: Sparkling wine

    Under $20: Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut Nature

    $20 to $50: Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut

    $50 and up: Billecart-Salmon Blanc des Blancs

    "Friendsgiving is my favorite annual holiday, and it's all about eating fall-inspired foods often more adventurous than what might be served at the traditional family Thanksgiving and celebrating life with your best friends," Thomas said. "Nothing works better for this than a great bottle of bubbles."

    A Hanukkah dinner: Sparkling wine, rosé, or a full-bodied red

    Kosher options/non-Kosher options:

    Under $20: LaMarca Prosecco / Gramona La Cuvee Gran Reserva Cava

    $20 to $50: Celler Capcanes Peraj Petita Rosat / Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

    $50 and up: Celler de Capcanes Peraj Ha'abib / Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva Pinot Noir

    Traditional Hanukkah dishes offer an array of flavors, Thomas said, adding that some, like the sweetness of noodle kugel, are difficult for wine pairing, while others, like potato latkes and matzo ball soup, pair easily. 

    "Rather than suggesting one type of wine to cover the entire dinner, the kosher suggestions offer the perfect pairings for the dinner — beginning with a sparkling, [continuing] with a soft and fruit rosé, and finishing the dinner (brisket time!) with a full-bodied and rich red wine," she said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Donald Trump

    • The CIA has reportedly concluded with high confidence that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, directly contradicting Riyadh's denials that the crown prince was involved.
    • President Donald Trump was briefed on the agency's findings Saturday.
    • The development raises a critical question for Trump: will he accept his own intelligence agency's assessment or Saudi Arabia's?
    • Trump previously sided with Russia over the US intelligence community, and if he does the same with Saudi Arabia, there would be one key difference.
    • "The CIA concluded with high confidence that [Crown Prince Mohammed] ordered the assassination of a US resident," said one Middle East expert. "While [Vladimir] Putin stands behind many of his critics' assassinations, no intelligence agency, let alone the CIA, has publicly stated he ordered the killings himself."

    The White House is in a bind following the CIA's reported assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Turkey last month. 

    The crown prince was widely believed to have played a key role in carrying out the Khashoggi killing even before the CIA came back with its findings. The Saudi government denies the allegation, and so far, President Donald Trump has mostly accepted its narrative.

    But the CIA's finding, which was made in high confidence and first reported by The Washington Post, represents the most definitive US assessment to date directly linking Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler to Khashoggi's murder.

    In light of that, Trump is faced with a critical question: will he accept his own intelligence agency's assessment or Saudi Arabia's?

    Read more: Here's everything we know about the troubling disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

    CIA director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey late last month to address the investigation into Khashoggi's death. She met with Trump when she returned to the US a few days later, and national-security experts said it was highly unlikely she didn't fill him in on what the agency had determined.

    On Saturday morning, Trump told reporters he had not yet been briefed on the matter.

    Ned Price, the former senior director of the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, told INSIDER the odds that the CIA had high confidence in its assessment and yet did not brief Trump right away "are virtually nil."

    "Both of these things almost certainly can’t be true," he added.

    Indeed, several Trump aides told The Post he had already been shown evidence of the crown prince's alleged involvement in Khashoggi's murder but was looking for ways to avoid blaming him for the journalist's death.

    Later Saturday, the White House said Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Trump on the CIA's assessment while he was en route to California.

    The agency has also reportedly briefed Congress, which has signaled that it will seek to punish Saudi Arabia for its actions. As of Saturday evening, Trump had not publicly commented on whether he trusted the CIA's findings.

    Donald Trump Saudi Arabia

    'The Saudis have bought the man'

    Robert Deitz, the former general counsel at the National Security Agency, said the president's silence was par for the course.

    "When Trump is in a bind, he tends to temporize, and I think that's what's going on here," Deitz told INSIDER. "The bind is this: Saudi Arabia is the mother of all arms buyers. They're also a very important Middle East ally. So how can the US hold [Crown Prince Mohammed] and Khashoggi's killers accountable while also preserving the alliance? Because it's very challenging for the US to simply dump Saudi Arabia."

    After saying he hadn't been briefed on the Khashoggi investigation Saturday morning, Trump touted the US's economic ties to Saudi Arabia, calling the country a "great ally."

    "They give us a lot of jobs ... a lot of business, a lot of economic development," he said.

    While Saudi Arabia is an important economic partner, fact-checkers have pointed out that the president often overstates the value of the alliance by inflating the number of American jobs Saudi arms sales would create and how much it would help the US economy.

    Trump and his advisers have also stressed the strategic advantages of a US-Saudi alliance, particularly when it comes to containing Iran. But Middle East experts say that with or without a partnership with the US, Saudi Arabia would still push back against its neighbor because of roiling tensions between the two countries that go back years.

    Read more: US hits 17 Saudis with sanctions over Khashoggi, including crown prince's top henchman who reportedly directed killing via Skype

    Glenn Carle, a former CIA covert operative, offered a blunt assessment of Trump's response — or lack thereof — to the Khashoggi investigation.

    "The main pillar of this administration when it comes to the Middle East is that the president wants to make nice with [Crown Prince Mohammed] and Saudi Arabia because he likes dictators and because the Saudis have bought the man," Carle told INSIDER.

    Trump said last month that he has "no financial interests in Saudi Arabia." But during his presidential campaign, he boasted about making "hundreds of millions" of dollars from Saudi customers and said he would maintain close ties with the kingdom because it invested in his properties.

    Ultimately, Carle said, Trump will likely "pay lip service to how killing is bad," but will go back to business as usual by supporting the crown prince and Saudi Arabia.

    Randa Slim, the director of conflict resolution at the Middle East Institute, echoed that view.

    From the onset of the Khashoggi case, she told INSIDER, Trump made clear that "maintaining a close relationship with the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia will trump the need for justice and accountability" for Khashoggi's murder.

    trump putin

    'He doesn't care if it's an ally or an adversary; it's all about what supports his own personal interests'

    If Trump were to continue trusting Crown Prince Mohammed over the CIA after being briefed on the matter, it would be reminiscent of his response to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the US intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to elevate Trump to the presidency.

    When Trump flew to Helsinki for a high-stakes meeting with Putin over the summer, he shocked observers when he said at a press conference that he trusted Putin's denial of Russian interference over US intelligence findings.

    "The president has shown time and again that he will only agree or praise or take note of something that supports his particular perspective, and everything else he will either ignore or denigrate," Carle said. "Thus, his approach to the Saudis will be the same as his approach to Russia. He doesn't care if it's an ally or an adversary; it's all about what supports his own personal interests and beliefs."

    Read more:National security experts warn Trump is behaving more and more like a 'controlled spy'

    Trump, who has a long history of business ties to Russia, often praises Putin and says it's important for the US to foster closer ties with Russia so the two countries can cooperate on matters of mutual interest, like counterterrorism.

    He has faced resistance, however, from Congress and his own administration, which continues approving sanctions and other countermeasures against Russia even as Trump calls for a cozier relationship with the Kremlin.

    The looming quagmire with Saudi Arabia is similar, but with one key difference.

    "The CIA concluded with high confidence that [Crown Prince Mohammed] ordered the assassination of a US resident," Slim said. "While Putin stands behind many of his critics' assassinations, no intelligence agency, let alone the CIA, has publicly stated he ordered the killings himself."

    John Haltiwanger contributed reporting.

    SEE ALSO: Trump administration's reported effort to 'barter' a US resident to convince Turkey to ramp down Khashoggi probe stuns foreign-policy veterans

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Fox News' Harris Faulkner is the only black woman in cable news with a daily show: 'It's a tremendous amount of responsibility'

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    Sri Lanka train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

    The train journey between Kandy and Ella through Sri Lanka's central highlands is well-documented.

    You may recognise the scene above — a train crossing over Nine Arches Bridge near Ella — from innumerable sepia-toned travel blogs with the word "nomad" clumsily shoe-horned into the title.

    A quick search of the route on YouTube will yield dozens of tanned influencers who have documented their journey hanging out of the doors over verdant tea terraces.

    Despite all the puffery, though, nothing could have prepared us for what the journey was actually like.

    I've been lucky enough to travel on a number of extraordinary train journeys, from bullet trains through southern China to the Venice Simplon Orient Express through the British countryside. The 8:47 from Kandy to Ella topped them all, though — and it only cost me $3.

    Scroll down to see exactly what it's like to make the seven-hour journey, from start to finish.

    SEE ALSO: 12 things I wish I'd known before going on safari in Sri Lanka, which I'm convinced is going to be Asia's next tourist hotspot

    We arrived at Kandy station, which is in the heart of Sri Lanka, bright and early. We wanted to catch the 8:47 train to Ella, in the island's famous hill country. To get our tickets, though, we would have to be fast. Second-class tickets are only available on the day and sell out rapidly. Third-class tickets are also available but we didn't fancy standing in a cramped carriage with other travellers for seven hours straight.

    Why didn’t we opt for first class? Well, for starters, tickets sell out months in advance, and you have to book via a travel agency, and nobody has time to be that organised. Secondly, while there is luxurious AC, you can’t open the windows in first-class — meaning you'll never get the same picture-perfect views that you will in second or third class.

    The train tickets in Sri Lanka are absurdly cheap. Our seven-hour, 158 km trip from Kandy to Ella cost us just 210 Sri Lankan Rupees, which is around $3.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    America's 38 essential restaurants to eat at in 2018 have been revealed.

    Eater has published its annual guide compiled by the food site's national critic Bill Addison, who consumed nearly 600 meals in 36 cities in a bid to discover the very best.

    Along the way, Addison says he noticed that what it means for food to be deemed "American" is changing: "Coded culinary language denoting 'them' and 'us' — as 'American' or 'other' — is slowly but inexorably dissolving," he wrote.

    This year, 17 new restaurants make the list.

    Here are the 38 best restaurants in the US in 2018, according to Eater.

    2M Smokehouse, San Antonio

    Addison says the chefs here "transcend the Texas smoked-meats melee by also serving a frictionless combination of dishes that express their Mexican-American heritage."

    Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

    Dominique Crenn won praise for finding "the middle ground between intellect and emotion, between heady presentation and flat-out deliciousness."

    Brennan's, New Orleans

    Brennan's has made the list for perfectly balancing "timeless pageantry and relevant, finely honed cooking."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    David hockney

    • The sale of David Hockney's work smashes auction estimates with $90.3 million sale
    • Hockney is now the most expensive living artist in the world, overtaking Jeff Koons. 

    A British currency trader turned billionaire just catapulted David Hockney to status as the world's most expensive living artist after selling one of Hockney's most famous works for a record $90.3 million

    Joe Lewis, the East End-born owner of financial firm Tavistock Group and the Tottenham Hotspur football team,  sold "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),” putting Hockney, 81, now above American Jeff Koons, 63, who held the title since 2013, when his orange balloon dog sold for $58.4 million. The painting broke its $80 million estimate at a Christie's auction on November 15. 

    Lewis has an estimated net worth of $5 billion and also owns pieces by Picasso, Degas, Klimt, and Freud. 

    The painting was bought by a client of Marc Porter, chairman of Christie's Americas. Bidding started at $18 million and finished at $80 million with the final price including a buyer's premium, Christie's said in a release. Hockney's 1972 work depicts a landscape reminiscent of the South of France containing two men including the artist's former lover Peter Schlesinger.

    Another of Hockney's works, a 1990 landscape “Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica,” fetched $28.5 million at Sotheby's in May. 

    SEE ALSO: The 4 biggest mistakes people make when buying art, according to experts

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: There's so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer save us

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    India Fan Flag

    The world is changing at a rapid pace.

    The last 150 years have seen the most remarkable advancement of technology in history. Electric lighting, cars, plastic, the telephone, and television are all less than 150 years old, while newer innovations such as the internet have spurred ever more rapid societal development.

    In the coming decades, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, and the automation of many low skilled jobs are likely to further change the global economy.

    But which nations around the world are most ready for that technological change? 

    Using the World Economic Forum's recently-released Global Competitiveness Survey, Business Insider decided to take a look. The survey includes a whole section on the "Future orientation of government" which looks at various indicators of individual national governments' preparedness.

    Questions include:

    • How fast is the legal framework of your country in adapting to digital business models?
    • To what extent does the government ensure a stable policy environment for doing business?
    • To what extent does the government respond effectively to change?
    • To what extent does the government have a long-term vision in place?

    Each category is given a score from one to seven, with seven being the highest reading. These are then collated into a single score.

    Many of the nations to make the higher echelons of this list are oil rich Middle Eastern economies looking to diversify and modernise, including the likes of Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, while Northern European states also feature heavily.

    Check out the countries most prepared for the world's digitised economic future below: 

    SEE ALSO: This chart shows every major technological innovation in the last 150 years — and how they have changed the way we work

    T25. Kenya — 4.5

    T25. Tajikistan — 4.5

    T25. Ireland — 4.5

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Typically I take my lunch to work. It's healthier than always eating out and helps me save some dough. But microwaved leftovers and soggy PB&J's can get old.

    So I decided to try out Ritual, an order-ahead app that I've seen advertised all around San Francisco's Financial District. It's also available in most major US cities like New York City, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

    I was initially wary of Ritual. If I wanted a food app for the sole purpose of convenience, why wouldn't I splurge on a food-delivery app like Caviar that would bring food right to me?

    Or if I were optimizing on price, why wouldn't I use MealPal, the monthly subscription service where lunches from local restaurants cost only $6.

    The value propositions of Ritual — order ahead, skip the line, earn rewards — seemed to fall in some awkward middle ground of food apps that didn't seem all too compelling for me.

    Nonetheless, I was curious to see why so many techies around me seemed to be loving it.

    Here's what I found:

    Ritual's main selling point is saving time by ordering ahead and skipping the line. With each purchase, you also earn Ritual rewards.

    Near Business Insider's San Francisco office in the Financial District, there are a ton of options. There are at least 20 restaurants on Ritual within one city block.

    For the entire week using Ritual, I did not travel more than a block and a half. My average commute time was about two minutes.

    You can also browse nearby restaurants in this photo view.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mark Zuckerberg

    • There's yet another spammy chain mail post circulating on Facebook — and this one is actually illegal.
    • "Secret sister" promises that you'll get 36 gifts, in return for only buying one.
    • But it's actually an illegal pyramid scheme, and law enforcement is warning about it.

    There's a "secret sister" gift exchange circulating on Facebook, that promises that participants will receive up to 36 gifts while only giving one of their own.

    It sounds too good to be true, and (unsurprisingly!) it is. And it's not just a dubious idea — it's actually an illegal pyramid scheme.

    It has been circulating in some form since at least 2015, and has had a resurgence in the run up to the holiday season, prompting at least one local police force to issue a fresh warning. So how does it work?

    It spreads via a Facebook post advertising the exchange (36 gifts in exchange for 1!) and asking six people to join in. When someone does so, they're sent a message asking them to: 1) Send a gift worth $10 to the "secret sister #1," the first name on a list they're given, 2) Move the person currently in second place on that list — the person who made the post they responded to — into first place, 3) Put their own name in second place. 4) Re-post the public Facebook post to their own profile, and recruit six more people to do the same thing they just did.

    secret sister pyramid scheme

    If there's 100% recruitment and participation, then the poster receives 36 gifts, as each of the six people they recruited recruits six more people who sends them gifts. 

    But it only works up to a point. It's a pyramid scheme, reliant on a constant inflow of new members to pay old members their promised gifts. This means the people at the bottom have to lose out eventually — as there's only a finite number of people in the world.

    As such, it's not just inadvisable to participate, it's outright illegal.

    Earlier this week, the Wauwatosa Police Department in Wisconsin posted a warning on Facebook about the scam, and linking to an article from the US Better Business Bureau (BBB) about the problems with "secret sister" schemes.

    "The U.S. Postal Inspection Services says that gift exchanges are illegal gambling and that participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud," the BBB wrote. 

    "Pyramid schemes are illegal, either by mail or on social media, if money or other items of value are requested with assurance of a sizeable return for those who participate."

    A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

    Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at rprice@businessinsider.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

    SEE ALSO: I stopped making lunch for a week and switched to Ritual, the order-ahead app sweeping San Francisco that lets you skip the line. Here's what I found.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why autocorrect makes so many mistakes, according to the former Apple engineer who helped create it

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    g7 summit trump trudeau

    • The highlight of President Donald Trump's trade policy has been the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada — the USMCA.
    • The deal must still be approved by Congress.
    • Democrats are generally more skeptical of free trade deals.
    • They now control the House following the midterms and could vote to reject the deal without some important changes.
    • Additionally, some conservative GOP members have raised concerns about provisions in the USMCA that strengthen workplace protections for LGBT workers.

    The biggest success of President Donald Trump's prolonged trade battles has come in the form of a revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico. 

    But recent statements from key members of Congress have potentially thrown the future of that deal in question.

    Creeping doubt from leading Democrats and a group of conservative House members have created fresh concern that the the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was agreed to by the three member countries on September 30, will be able to pass Congress without some significant changes.

    Th USMCA, which is primarily an update of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would make adjustments to rules on cars, dairy, and other goods flowing between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

    But some of the smaller details in the agreement could also cause it to hit some snags.

    Democratic pushback

    The USMCA always faced the headwind that it was moving forward at a heightened period of political uncertainty, such as the presidential changeover in Mexico and the midterm elections in the US.

    Before it comes into effect, each country's legislature must pass the USMCA:

    • In the US, Trump renegotiated NAFTA under what is known as Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.
    • Under TPA, only a majority of lawmakers need to vote for the USMCA to pass.
    • But required waiting periods with TPA mean a vote will likely not come until the next Congress is seated in January.
    • So Democrats will have a chance to leave their mark on Trump's agreement, since the president will need to win over at least a handful to pass the deal.

    Democrats in general are more skeptical of free trade agreements than their GOP counterparts. The original NAFTA was passed with mostly Republican votes despite being agreed to under President Bill Clinton. Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, needed extensive GOP support to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Despite not being able to make large changes to the text — that would require Trump to reopen negotiations with Mexico and Canada — legislation can help determine the level of enforcement of certain parts of the USMCA.

    Rep. Bill Pascrell, who could lead the critical House Ways and Means Committee next year, told Bloomberg that the USMCA can't pass as is. He said there needs "to be not only changes in the legislation but more enforcement" in the deal to get enough Democrats on board.

    Other Democrats have also expressed misgivings. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, considered the frontrunner to be the next House speaker, has called for strengthening the pro-labor and environmental aspects of the deal by making them legally enforceable, instead of just guidelines.

    "Most important of all are the enforcement provisions in terms of labor and the environment," Pelosi told The New York Times. "Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement."

    Read more: A top Republican senator just made it clear that Trump's new trade deal with Mexico and Canada could still fall apart

    But amid the early wobbles, most analysts expect the deal to eventually get done. If Democrats don't agree to the deal, Trump could threaten to pull the US out of NAFTA entirely — which would be an economic disaster — and Democrats don't have an alternate track to take.

    "We believe that will happen early next year as we don’t believe Democrats will derail the USMCA without a viable alternative just to deprive Trump of a 'win,'" Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a post-midterm note to clients.

    Conservative pushback

    Given Democrats' hesitation, Trump needs near-unanimous support from his own party to ensure the USMCA's passage.

    On that front, a small clause in the deal could actually cause a revolt among the GOP.

    Forty conservative House members sent a letter to Trump on Friday expressing displeasure with a provision in the USMCA that requires member countries to beef up workplace protections for LGBT people.

    The House members argue that the deal could force the US to make significant changes to labor laws to make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class — or risk getting kicked out of the economically critical deal.

    "A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy," the letter said. "It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress had so far explicitly refused to accept."

    Read more: The US, Canada, and Mexico's new trade pact looks a lot like NAFTA. Here are the key differences between them.

    Losing 40 GOP members in the House would require more than 50 Democrats to flip and support the deal for it to pass, which is highly unlikely. 

    But making any such changes would be difficult. The deal text is set to be signed at the G20 summit on November 30, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unlikely to accept any side deals to allow the US to ease up the protections.

    But without those changes, conservatives say the deal could be in trouble.

    "This is language that is going to cause a lot of people to reconsider their support of the trade agreement, and to the point that it may endanger the passage of the trade agreement unless something is done," GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn told Politico on Friday.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: 'I regret a lot' of the controversial stuff I've said on live television

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    how to undo unsend email gmail hack woman laptop


    Change can be hard, especially when it comes to your inbox. 

    Over the last few months, Google has been rolling out its new Gmail design, and some users aren't so keen on its look and feel. 

    The biggest shock seems to be coming from Gmail's new default view, which is much more bubbly and shows icons on the inbox home screen if there are any attachments within an email -- like images, slides, documents or spreadsheets. 

    Google has stopped allowing users to revert to the old version of its email product. However, there is a workaround that should bring some sanity back into your workflow if the new design is too much for you. 

    Here's how to get your inbox looking like the older version of Gmail: 

    SEE ALSO: I stopped making lunch for a week and switched to Ritual, the order-ahead app sweeping San Francisco that lets you skip the line. Here's what I found.

    Click on the settings gear in the top right hand corner.

    Then click on "Density Display."

    From there, you'll be able to choose your view. The "default" view has the new bubbly design and attachment icons that can be seen right from the inbox.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Applebee's 4

    • Not everyone wants to stay in on Thanksgiving.
    • There are a number of restaurants that will remain open on Turkey Day this year.
    • Keep in mind that many of these chains operate as franchises — so results may vary.
    • If you're set on eating out on Thanksgiving, make sure to call ahead to ask about the restaurant's hours.

    In the United States, Thanksgiving is the day we dedicate to stuffing ourselves in the presence of friends and family.

    But if you'd rather go out to eat — or you end up burning the turkey to a crisp — don't worry. A number of restaurants will remain open on Thanksgiving.

    Offers.com compiled a list of restaurants that are set to open their doors on Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that some of these chains will only be open on a regional basis. Others may be closed depending on the franchisee.

    So, if you're planning on spending Turkey Day at one of these eateries, it's better to be safe and call ahead.

    With that in mind, here are restaurants that are going to be open in some capacity on Thanksgiving:

    SEE ALSO: Walmart is kicking off Black Friday on Thanksgiving with millions of free cookies and cups of coffee

    DON'T MISS: The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody struggle that decimated the population and ended with a head on a stick


    Want to eat good in the neighborhood on Thanksgiving?

    A number of Applebee's restaurants will remain open on Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas Day, this year. And all Applebee's will be opened the day before Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve, with reduced hours.

    A restaurant spokesperson told Business Insider that prospective patrons should contact their local Applebee's to determine the restaurant's holiday hours.

    Bahama Breeze

    A Bahama Breeze spokesperson confirmed that select locations will remain open on Thanksgiving. The chain will offer up a tropical Thanksgiving menu.

    Bob Evans

    Offers.com reported that Bob Evans will be welcoming in dine-in customers on Thanksgiving, although restaurant hours will vary by location. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    rihanna bodyguards

    • Rich people have always been private, but their desire for privacy has increased as they seek more security in a technological age.
    • But in an age of constant connection, some ultra-rich are reeling in the flashiness in the name of safety.
    • Experts in high-end security say wealthy people are living under-the-radar at home and while traveling.

    Perhaps nothing conjures up an image of wealth like Nicki Minaj in her $400,000 pink Lamborghini or Mark Cuban stepping out of his $40 million private jet

    But in an age of constant connection, some ultra-rich are reeling in the flashiness in the name of safety.

    "Privacy and safety are inextricably linked. There was a time when privacy concerns were primarily about financial loss, such as bank wire or credit card fraud," Gary Howlin, senior vice president at Gavin de Becker & Associates, which provides executive protection for wealthy individuals including clients in the Supreme Court and the CIA, told Business Insider.

    "Now, particularly with personal information readily available via internet and social media sources, people are using what was once private information to learn where clients live — or information about their activities in order to seek personal encounters with them," Howlin said.

    As a result, the wealthy are proceeding with caution when it comes to grand displays of wealth.

    Take for example Kim Kardashian West. The Queen of Selfies has always been known for flaunting her diamonds on Instagram and on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," but after being held at gunpoint and robbed of more than $10 million in jewelry in 2016, she became more discreet about her wealth by toning down her social media photos, no longer wearing a lot of jewelry in public, and getting 24-hour security.

    Kim Kardashian West

    But such a harrowing incident isn't a prerequisite for being discreet. 

    CEOs and business moguls, like Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, have always been somewhat private, at least to the general public, but even celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Melissa McCarthy are refraining from putting their wealth on display.

    The wealthy are living under the radar at home

    "There was a time when people really flaunted their wealth; now they don't," David Forbes, head of private office at estate agent Savills, told reporter Kate Allen of the Financial Times. "People's priorities over the years have shifted. Now right at the top of the list, it's security."

    He added that while the wealthy still spend money on boats and planes, they don't want to attract the kind of attention open displays of wealth bring; they're increasingly opting for what Allen called "under-the-radar" living, which takes shape on both a small and big scale.

    This involves blocking GPS from locating property with a jamming signal, removing their homes from the grid, and hiring architects to conceal buildings — whether it's designing an underground home or using a "stealth concealment design" for above ground properties, reported Allen.

    These privacy tactics don't come cheap — one underground mansion was listed for $185 million last year. And those without underground homes are paying up to $500,000 to install luxe panic rooms, which are becoming more popular than ever among the rich as gun violence increases, Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported.


    They're also living in affluent neighborhoods that ban Google's photography vehicles from entering — meaning their residences don't show up on Google street view.

    Paul McCartney's mansion isn't visible on street view, and neither are the homes of the residents in celebrity-studded Hidden Hills, California, which include Kardashian West and Kanye West, Lisa Marie Presley, Drake, and Miley Cyrus, according to Vanity Fair.

    Try to drop a pin on Sea Island, Georgia, where a number of PGA tour players live and where the average home costs $3.2 million, and you'll find no results on street view either.

    Read more: 7 places you can't find on Google Maps

    Forbes told Allen that shell companies and ownership structures enable anonymity to property buyers, as do gated communities. Homeowners are also spending more on home security systems, he said.

    Gavin de Becker & Associates provides a very high level of protection. At residential estates, that involves a dedicated security office, elaborate technological early-warning systems, and strict access control to keep people out, Howlin said.

    Mark Zuckerberg

    "It is common for a successful, well-known executive to spend a million dollars a year — or much more — for a comprehensive security and privacy program," Howlin said.

    This year, Facebook approved a $10 million annual security allowance for Zuckerberg and his family, an increase of nearly $3 million from the previous year, Business Insider previously reported.

    The wealthy are also seeking out privacy and security when they travel

    But such security isn't limited to the home — the ultra-rich are also taking steps to travel more discreetly.

    "If you're driving a convertible Bentley right now in the South of France you're asking for trouble, you'll be followed back to your villa by a couple of scooters," Forbes told Allen.

    Perhaps that's partly why so many billionaires drive non-luxury cars. Zuckerberg has been seen in an Acura TSX, a Volkswagen hatchback, and a Honda Fit, each valued at or under $30,000. Meanwhile, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the world's richest woman, drives a 2006 Ford F-150 King Ranch, which retails for around $40,000, according to CNBC.

    But that's just on the road — traveling across the country or internationally is in a whole different league.

    For this, Gavin de Becker & Associates relies heavily on logistical planning and execution — clients want hotel rooms pre-checked under an alias and private ways to get in.

    "Our clients will never be found standing at the lobby desk to check-in, and even walking through the public spaces is optional," Howlin said. The firm also owns and operates the Private Suite at LAX, where rich people pay upwards of $4,500 for solitude when traveling — that includes drop-offs on the tarmac, bodyguard protection, and "private" TSA lines. 

    Read more: I visited the private terminal at LAX where rich people pay upwards of $4,500 to skip the lines and pull up to their planes in BMWs, and it made me feel like a billionaire

    "It's a safe haven offering the best privacy, security, and amenities money can buy," wrote Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback, who toured the luxury terminal herself.

    But that's when they're flying commercially.

    the private suite lax

    Any jet — even a private one — that's registered has a tail number and can be found, according to XOJET, an on-demand private jet operator. Billionaire moguls, CEOs, and celebrities are shifting to on-demand charter jets for more privacy.

    "[For example], if you're a celebrity and you don't want the public knowing your every move, flying charter...allows anonymity as the jets are randomly assigned based on the leg," James Henderson, president of commercial operations at XOJET, told Business Insider. "Meaning you may never get the same jet twice — allowing for complete privacy."

    Jamie Foxx, Fergie, and Kardashian West have all flown on-demand private jet via JetSmarter, according to Travel + Leisure.

    Chartering a private jet doesn't come cheap — a trip from New York to Los Angeles via XOJET is $25,000 one way. But for many wealthy people, privacy is priceless. 

    SEE ALSO: A foreign passport is the latest status symbol, and rich people are spending up to $200,000 to buy it

    DON'T MISS: Rich people of different ages prefer to spend their money in vastly different ways

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Aaron Samuels Blavity

    • Aaron Samuels is cofounder and chief operating officer of Blavity, the LA media upstart focused on African-American millennials, and he is a man of many talents.
    • The Stanford business school grad oversees a team of 48 full-time employees, with a vision to perfect the storytelling art for a generation of people underserved by the current mass-media landscape.
    • Samuels' early years as an artist and poet helped shape that focus, and he believes that by owning your own narrative you can reshape the way you live in the world.
    • With the help of Samuels' cofounders, Blavity is emerging as a media juggernaut, a little more than four years after its founding.

    "When you tell your own story, it changes the way other people see you, and it changes the way you see yourself," Aaron Samuels, cofounder and chief operating officer of Blavity, a digital-news publication geared toward African-American millennials told Business Insider.

    Blavity has been a hot topic in the media world since it closed a $6.5 million Series A round with Google Ventures in July, bringing its total venture investment so far to $8.5 million. That's an almost of unheard-of amount of money for an early-stage, black-owned startup, much less a new digital publication — especially one with a young, black, female CEO, Morgan DeBaun, Samuels' cofounder.

    But it is clearly doing something right. Blavity has only been in business for four years, and it already has seven million readers per month.

    And much of that success is anchored in Samuels' personal mission for the company.

    Come see Aaron Samuels speak at Business Insider's Ignition conference, December 3 & 4 in New York.

    He believes that by creating a company — and a community — that lets black millennials "really control their own narratives" in ways that mainstream media doesn't understand, "we could change the way people see themselves."

    Aaron Samuels BlavityBlavity was founded in 2014, but you could trace its roots back to Samuels' teenage years, when he discovered the power of storytelling through poetry, and later, on the Washington University campus in St. Louis, Missouri, where Samuels and his friends — DeBaun, Jonathan Jackson, and Jeff Nelson — experienced firsthand the phenomenon that would eventually define Blavity's core ethos.

    Samuels calls it "black gravity," a microcosm of black people who would move toward each other in public spaces. At the campus in St. Louis, the lunch table was a central meeting place.

    "The black community at Washington University was really tight. Although Washington University was primarily a white institution, black folks stuck together, we looked out for each other," Samuels told Business Insider in an interview at Blavity's downtown Los Angeles headquarters.

    "That experience represented support; it represented love, and trust," Samuels said. "It was a way for us to flourish and thrive, and also represented all the different kinds of black conversations that were happening simultaneously."

    They talked about everything from politics to engineering homework to where the party was going to be on the weekend.

    But for Samuels, who grew up in a mixed-race, mixed-faith household in Providence, Rhode Island, with a Jewish mother and an African-American father — both of whom are clinical psychologists — finding common ground is a practiced art.

    His parents taught him to identify with all corners of his cultural identity and to embrace and share it with others. And that ultimately helped him navigate a world where he often found himself in the minority.

    "I could see that learning how to own and tell my story can change the way that others see me, and more importantly change the way that I see myself," Samuels said.

    "I wanted to imagine what happens if we do this on a community level, if everyone who I'm friends with is also owning their own stories and their own narrative," he said.

    Aaron Samuels Blavity

    Living at the office, literally

    His Washington University friends would eventually become his cofounders, but not right away. Immediately after they graduated, they went to work on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.

    Samuels worked as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company in New York, DeBaun became a product manager at Intuit, Nelson was an early engineer at Palantir, and Jackson was a community manager at LinkedIn.

    Those roles taught them the necessary skills they would take to Blavity, but there was a downside.

    With social and political unrest brewing in places like Ferguson, Missouri, Samuels said he and his friends — who were, at the time, separated by distance and their careers — shared a less edifying experience than their happy college days.

    "This time, we didn't have that core black gravity linking us together. The world was exploding. This is 2014; this is coming off the heels of the government execution of Troy Davis; this is after Trayvon Martin. And that was building up to 2014 when Mike Brown was killed," Samuels said.

    Ferguson protests"It was hard to be a black person in primarily white spaces when so many things were happening," he said.

    On some days, Samuels recalled, he would walk into work, and it would feel like none of the political unrest he and other black millennials saw as an existential threat was happening at all.

    So, he did what most black millennials did at the time.

    "I was texting my friends and family, or I was going to social media to feel what needed to be felt, so that at least I knew I wasn't crazy to be like, sad, or upset, or angry, or frustrated."

    Samuels wasn't alone. That's when he, DeBaun, Jackson, and Nelson landed on an idea. They could take their combined experience in digital technology and business strategy, along with the creative people they knew who were sharing stories on social media, to replicate their college-years' feeling of black gravity. And they could do that on a national level, he said.

    So, in July 2014, Blavity was born. Early on, it existed as a virtual company. The team worked via Slack, Asana, and Gmail. After a year and a half of bootstrapping, they opened their first office, inside a large live-work loft in LA's arts district — but the hustle continued.

    Samuels, DeBaun, and the team lived in that loft; they created separate micro-apartments inside — one for DeBaun and the other for Samuels — while the office occupied the rest of the space.

    "It doesn't get any closer than living, eating, and breathing your work," Samuels quipped.

    That early focus on elevating African-American millennials in a digital media landscape where they were inadequately represented proved to be the right move.

    More than two years after Blavity's founding, an October 2016 Nielsen report illustrated just how effectively African-American millennials, with their multibillion-dollar buying power and "undisputed cultural influence" was driving conversations online.

    Blavity team founders Aaron Samuels Morgan DeBaun Jonathan Jackson Jeff Nelson

    A game of endurance

    As if growing a startup with his best friends and living at the office with them weren't enough, Samuels was also attending Stanford business school and traveling.

    He calls his life a game of endurance.

    "It's a statement about the journeys that some entrepreneurs have to go through, that other entrepreneurs never have to go through," he said.

    Things changed after Blavity raised $1.86 million of seed-round funding in April 2017 from the Washington, DC-based New Media Ventures and LA-based Macro Ventures. The company has since gone on to raise $8.5 million total.

    Now the company has an office parked in a pristine high-rise in bustling downtown Los Angeles, where Samuels oversees 48 full-time employees, as well as a new office and staff in Atlanta.

    Samuels is excited about expansion but doesn't want to lose sight of the bigger mission: empowering a generation of leaders.

    Aaron Samuels Blavity AfroTech 2017"I’m really excited about the next phase for our company," Samuels said.

    "I'm also terrified. I think that it is difficult being a black millennial in this country. That is something that has probably always been true for the entire history of this country. And I don’t think that it’s different now."

    Samuels recognizes the progress black people have made in the world, but he warns against using that progress to justify that things still are not as they should be.

    He hopes that Blavity can lead the way in moving the cultural conversation forward. To Samuels, that conversation should include everyone, without neglecting Blavity's foundational principles.

    "I am hoping for more support from our current community to expand, to be welcoming, and to share in our collective excitement about the possibilities of what we can build together," he said.

    Find Aaron Samuels on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram @PoetryAaron.

    Hear more of Samuels' story, building a business as an artist and founder, and the future of black digital media at IGNITION 2018.

    Register now »

    SEE ALSO: Announcing IGNITION 2018 speakers: Don't miss Mark Cuban, Sir Martin Sorrell, Danica Patrick, Troy Carter, and more!

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    Amazon Music Unlimited

    • Black Friday technically doesn't start until November 23, but you can get early access to savings right now.
    • Currently, Amazon Music Unlimited is offering new members access to tens of millions of songs for $0.99 for the first three months (regularly priced at $7.99 per month).
    • You don't need a Prime membership, but if you want to try it free for 30 days, you can sign up here.

    Black Friday is officially on its way, and along with it comes plenty of early deals from Amazon. Though the big day doesn't start until November 23, you can take advantage of savings starting now — including a major deal on Amazon Music Unlimited.

    If you have an Echo device, you've probably asked Alexa to play a song for you. Somewhat frustratingly, you may have noticed that there's a distinct limit to what she can play on if you're not a member of Amazon Music Unlimited. As a consolation for your lack of membership, she generally offers a short sample of the song that cuts off just as you start getting into it. 

    If you'd like to avoid this happening again, it's worth considering a membership to Amazon Music Unlimited, especially right now. Though it'll usually run you a monthly fee of $7.99, it's currently just $0.99 for the first three months of your membership as an early Black Friday deal. 

    And it's not just on your Echo devices that you can listen to the millions of songs on the platform. Similar to Spotify, you can listen commercial-free on pretty much any device — from your computer to your tablet to your phone — via an app that curates personalized listening channels and playlists for every mood. 

    We don't know when the deal will end, but we know it won't last for long. You can start taking advantage of the deal now, which will run for three months from the date of purchase. Once the promotion is over, you can either cancel your membership or continue to pay the full $7.99 rate.

    For a total cost of $1, it'd be a shame to subject yourself to all those half-played samples for the next three months. 

    Get Amazon Music Unlimited for $0.99 for three months here.

    Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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