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Retiring abroad: An American couple who retired in Portugal breaks down how much they spend every month

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Porto Portugal

There is no one way to approach retirement, but many people are getting creative in stretching their money for a comfortable — even luxurious — third act of life. One strategy? Retiring abroad.

International Living, a magazine focused on Americans living overseas, released its annual Retirement Index recently. The index was curated by US expats and ranked countries "where you can live a healthier and happier life, spend a lot less money, and get a whole lot more" in retirement. Portugal was named the best country for retirement because of its affordable lifestyle, quality healthcare, temperate climate, and dining.

Business Insider spoke with Tricia Pimental, who retired to Portugal in 2012 with her husband, Keith, from Park City, Utah. They currently live in central Portugal and spend roughly $2,330 in a typical month.

They spend that money across categories including housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment.

Subscribe here to read our feature and see a breakdown of the monthly budget: Portugal is the best country in the world for American expats to retire in. A Utah couple who moved there in 2012 gave us a breakdown of how they live on a $2,330 monthly budget.

Do you have a similar story or budget you'd like to share with Business Insider? Get in touch with this reporter at tborden@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: These are the top 10 countries to retire in this year, according to US expats who have already made the move

DON'T MISS: A Michigan couple who paid off their $200,000 mortgage in 4 years share the exact budget sheet they used, and it accounts for every dollar of their monthly income

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Starbucks is giving away free drinks for the rest of 2019. It's one of the 5 sneaky tactics the coffee chain uses to get you to spend more money.

I flew basic economy on Finnair from New York to Helsinki and it was surprisingly great despite my initial fears — here's why

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Finnair Basic Economy Review Airbus A330

  • Finnair flies between New York and Helsinki with daily service on an Airbus A330-300. I recently flew on it during a trip to Copenhagen for $280 roundtrip in basic economy.
  • Basic economy is known for being the most restrictive fare with strict rules limiting what passengers are entitled to including seat assignments and baggage allowance.
  • Despite flying in basic economy, Finnair's customer service agents didn't treat me like a steerage class flyer and I was able to get extra amenities just by asking. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Finnair is one of the many airlines that connects New York with Europe, offering daily service between the Big Apple and the airline's hub in Helsinki.

The Finnish flag carrier has been faithfully flying the route for over half a century, celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2019, while operating the only current nonstop link between the US and Finland with connections into Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Clicking through Google Flights one day, I noticed an unbeatable flight deal to Copenhagen from New York for Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend that involved two legs on Finnair with a return on British Airways for only $280 in economy. 

The catch: the ticket was a basic economy fare. 

Finnair joined the growing list of airlines adopting a basic economy fare for transatlantic flights in 2018 when it introduced an economy "light" fare. The fare has allowed full-service carriers such as Finnair to fight back against the low-cost carriers that entered the transatlantic market in recent years, selling deconstructed tickets where passengers could select what add-ons they wanted. 

With this ticket, according to the American Airlines website where I booked the ticket, I would have to pay to select a seat, pay to check my bags, and board the aircraft in the last group. While I was getting a great deal, it seemed I was being intimidated to pay more for the standard economy fare, which had a difference of a few hundred dollars. 

As it would only be a quick weekend trip with no reason to check bags, I decided to book it and flew my first transatlantic flight in basic economy from New York to Helsinki on Finnair.

Here's what it was like. 

SEE ALSO: I flew long-haul economy on both American Airlines and British Airways to see which was better — here's the verdict

Finnair operates a once-daily flight between New York and Helsinki, departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport at 7:05 p.m. as Finnair flight AY6.



The airline uses Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a stronghold for American Airlines and the Oneworld airline alliance of which Finnair is a member.



American Airlines is the main tenant in the building, which regards the airport as a gateway rather than a hub but still offers a mix of transatlantic, international, domestic, and regional services.



I arrived at the airport around two and a half hours from the scheduled departure time since early evenings are typically busy at JFK.



Having already checked in on the Finnair mobile app and received my boarding pass, I could skip the check-in desk and head straight to the gate.



Despite not being able to select a seat in advance with the basic economy fare, I was able to select one at check-in free of charge, which is why you should always check-in exactly 24 hours in advance.



I selected a window seat towards the front of the aircraft — not bad for basic economy. I wanted to test my luck and see if there were any rows open so I went up to the counter to ask the check-in agents.



Thankfully, there was no line and I was talking to a check-in agent in seconds.



First, my carry-on had to be weighed to ensure it was under the weight limit of 17.5 pounds (it was).



While there were no rows open to lie down in, the check-in agent offered to put me in an aisle seat and block the seat next to me so I'd have more room. Again, not bad for a $280 basic economy ticket.



After getting my ticket, I head to the security checkpoint where Finnair participates in the TSA PreCheck program.



Being a part of the program, which I get as a perk of being a Global Entry member costing $100 for five years, saved me 32 minutes compared to the normal line.



Only a handful of people were ahead of me in the line and I was through in minutes.



Avoiding the stress of having to wait in that line really made the airport experience more enjoyable.



As I was flying economy and had no elite status, I headed straight to the gate.



Our flight wasn't the only one going to Europe that evening but it would be the only one to Scandinavia.



My gate was in the concourse nearest to security, making for a short walk.



Terminal 8 is one of the more spacious terminals at JFK, with American Airlines renovating it in the early 2000s.



Finnair operates the New York to Helsinki flight with its Airbus A330-300s, formerly the largest aircraft in its modern-day fleet before the arrival of the Airbus A350-900 XWB.



I arrived at the gate two hours early but despite our fight being on a widebody aircraft, boarding wouldn't begin until 35 minutes before departure.



Maximizing chaos at the gate, the boarding area was arranged into only two categories: priority and economy, with no set lines.



And one gate agent holding up signs when it was time for each group to board.



After pre-boarding, the process began with priority customers including business class passengers and any elite status holders.



Economy was divided into groups 3-5, though nobody seemed to pay attention to their group number and just boarded without issue.



The first thing I noticed about the plane was how dark it was for boarding, giving the cabin an icy feel.



The seats were blue with white headrest covers, reflecting the colors of a snowy Finnish day.



My seat was 52H, an aisle seat in the center aisle section of the aircraft.



While it appeared to be cushy just like an older airline, the seat was quite firm and featured a quasi-moveable armrest that didn't really do much for comfort.



According to SeatGuru, the seats feature 32 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width.



A pillow and blanket, headphones, and a bottle of water were left on the seat for passengers to use in lieu of an amenity kit.



Much to my disappointment, the armrests between the seats were only semi-moveable and the aisle armrest was fully immoveable, making the seat seem much smaller. I likely wouldn't have been able to comfortably lie down had the row been open.



Coat hangars were affixed at every seatback, though my heavy winter coat was too big for to coexist with me in the same seat.



The seats had a deep recline but nothing too invasive.



Each seat also had its own in-flight entertainment system that, though weren't the high definition screens found on modern airliners, were loaded with content.



It could either be controlled via the touchscreen or the tethered remote found in the armrest.



The system featured movies, television series, playlists, and games, but required the use of the headphones provided by Finnair as the input was two-prong only.



The highlight, however, was the two exterior cameras that could be viewed from the system, one from the landing gear and the other looking down from the belly.



The seats did have power outlets for 110v AC plugs, but mine didn't work when I plugged in my iPhone charger. Thankfully I packed my portable charger.



Despite having started boarding at 6:30 p.m., we were pushed back from the gate at 7:05 p.m. on the dot.



After a quick taxi to JFK's Runway 4L, we were off to Helsinki.



Our flight path first took us north near Albany before we headed towards Europe.



After takeoff, I started a short movie to pass the time until the meal service, after which I'd head straight to sleep for the overnight crossing.



The flight attendants began the meal service for economy passengers around one hour after departure, announcing the menu would be either chicken with rice or beef stroganoff with complimentary beer and wine.



But first, a "refreshing towel."



I chose the chicken dish consisting of chicken teriyaki, rice, broccoli that came with a small salad, cheese and crackers, and a chocolate crumb cake. As my only meal for the night, I found it very filling and tasty for airplane food.



After dinner, I decided to get some sleep using the eye mask that I brought.



I was able to catch a few hours of sleep before being abruptly awoken by the terrifying, prayer-inducing turbulence that the North Atlantic is known for and wasn't able to fall back asleep for a while.



Eventually, the turbulence passed and I fell asleep again, waking up just as the sun was rising over Scandinavian skies.



The high latitudes that our flight took us to meant sunrise wouldn't come until an hour before landing.



Which is when the breakfast meal service started, with a cold ham and cheese croissant being the only option.



Before being capped off with a before landing chocolate from Karl Fazer.



Finally, after just over seven hours of flight, Helsinki Airport came into view on the camera and our journey had come to an end. Welcome to HEL!

While the Finnair in-flight experience was normal for a transatlantic hop to Europe, the customer service was what stood out. Although I was in basic economy, I wasn't treated as a sub-par passenger who was trying to skirt the system to get a good deal and instead, was given every courtesy.  

When I checked-in for the flight on the app, I had free reign to choose any available seat while other airlines charge for seat changes at check-in for basic economy. Additionally, I was also offered the opportunity to check my bag for free at the airport counter, as well as having the seat next to me blocked off so I could have it to myself. 

This shocked me as my other basic economy experiences have paled in comparison to Finnair and I was glad to be treated as a passenger rather than punished for being a basic economy flyer. Though it wasn't initially my airline of choice for heading to Europe, I certainly would take it again — if the price was right. 



An American family who moved to Nicaragua for a year to live cheaply ended up blowing their $30,000 budget thanks to unexpected costs — but still spent less than life at home in the US

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tew and fro amanda and mark

  • Mark and Amanda Tew and their four children spent a year on a mini-retirement in Nicaragua.
  • Over six years, they saved $30,000 after paying off debt and building an emergency fund, all of which they accomplished by living below their means and maintaining side hustles.
  • That $30,000 should have been enough for the year, but they were surprised by big expenses like health insurance, a car, and schooling for their kids — plus a cancer diagnosis for Mark just before they left.
  • Even with the unexpected costs, including an extra month in Nicaragua, they still spent less than they would have in the US.
  • Mark says that "the experience was worth the investment."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For Mark and Amanda Tew, taking a yearlong mini-retirement in Nicaragua with their four children just felt right.

Mark has always had a love for Latin America, and he previously told Business Insider he felt the whole premise of traditional retirement was faulty.

"Waiting until I'm 65 when I'm likely less able or healthy enough to do the things I've always wanted to do doesn't make a lot of sense to me," he said. "Since I'm not retiring early anytime soon, a mini-retirement seemed like a great way to spend quality time and have a great new experience as a family."

He continued: "One thing I knew was that if I didn't just take the plunge and go have this experience with my family, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Given that I could be hit by a car tomorrow or die of cancer when I'm 42, a mini-retirement is an absolute no-brainer. You just have to have a plan and be smart about it."

The Tews managed to pay off $50,000 worth of student-loan debt, build a six-month emergency fund, and save $30,000 for a mini-retirement over six years. Last year, they moved to Nicaragua, where they rented a house, bought a car, sent their kids to school, and traveled around the country visiting lakes, volcanoes, beaches, and historical sites.

"We wanted to immerse ourselves in a new culture and just live our lives," he said. "We had some fear of missing out by leaving our country for one year, but when we came home and saw all of our friends and colleagues doing essentially what they had been doing before, we realized we didn't miss out on anything."

He added: "No one is going to look back at their life wishing they had worked that one extra year in the rat race or that they had contributed just a little more to their 401(k)."

But there were a lot of costs they didn't see coming.

SEE ALSO: Forget early retirement — people who saved enough money to travel for weeks or years say a 'mini-retirement' is just as rewarding

DON'T MISS: A 24-year-old who's traveling the world says her 'mini-retirement' is more productive than a corporate job

The Tews have always lived fairly frugally and maintained side hustles for extra income.

A full-time financial controller, Mark did tax and accounting work on the side, while Amanda worked as a part-time college instructor and taught private violin lessons.



Implementing detailed financial goals and frequent budget reviews, they were able to pay off $50,000 of grad-school debt in less than two years.

Mark saved his starting bonus and $1,500 a month from his paycheck from May 2012 to January 2014, for a total of $35,000.

He and Amanda saved a total of $15,000 from their side work, and by January 2014, they had paid off their student loans entirely.



After climbing out of debt, they then focused on their emergency fund.

By May 2015, they had saved $30,000 by tucking away at least $1,000 a month from Mark's paychecks, $8,000 from Amanda's violin teaching, and $7,000 from Mark's work as a certified public accountant.



Once their emergency fund (equal to six months' worth of expenses) was in place, they worked their way toward saving $20,000.

They used the same frugality and side-hustle tactics to build a $10,000 "spend fund" for foreseeable emergencies and an additional $10,000 to put toward their mini-retirement. They met their savings goals in December 2015.



In 2016, Mark got a job with higher pay, but a few unexpected costs arose.

Mark and Amanda had to put money toward extra costs like childcare, maternity leave, house projects, and a cancer diagnosis for Mark about six months before they left.

They were still able to save a little more than $1,000 a month, for a total of $15,000 for the year. Combined with the $10,000 from the previous year, they now had $25,000 in their mini-retirement fund.



In the first four months of 2017, they saved another $5,000 from Mark's paychecks and their side hustles.

They also sold their house in Michigan for a $50,000 profit, which they plan to save and use for a down payment if they ever buy again.



In May 2017, they left for Nicaragua.

They went over budget but still spent less than they would have in the US — an average of $4,000 a month compared with $5,000 a month back home in Michigan.



One of the reasons monthly costs were more expensive than anticipated was Mark's cancer diagnosis before the family left for their year abroad.

Mark was uninsurable on international insurance plans, so he had to pay $500 extra a month for his COBRA plan, totaling $6,500.



Health insurance cost much less for the rest of the family.

They paid only $2,000 for a yearlong Latin American health insurance policy for Amanda and the kids. A consultation with a doctor cost $25.



They also spent more on schooling than they had originally planned.

The school they chose for their children didn't work out, so they ended up moving and enrolling them in an international school at $200 per kid per month, for a total of $800 a month.



Mark and Amanda reduced their housing costs by 36%.

They initially reduced their monthly housing costs by 60%, to $500 a month for their house in Nicaragua from $1,250 a month in the US.

But partway through their trip, they moved to be closer to the international school, and their new house cost $800 a month. They had to buy furniture for the first home, which they ended up donating to locals before they left.

Utilities payments for electric, water, and gas were roughly the same as in the US. They also purchased two prepaid phones and paid about $40 a month for internet while in Nicaragua.

Mark said they put down security deposits on their home rentals that they don't expect to get back.



They also spent money on household help in Nicaragua.

They had a housekeeper who came two days a week for 4 1/2 hours and paid her $2 an hour, which is double the typical pay for a housekeeper in Nicaragua, Mark said.

They also had a gardener, who charged less than $7 a week.



Cars and gas are more expensive in Nicaragua than in the US.

Mark and Amanda spent $8,000 to buy a Jeep (plus $20 on a lawyer to help them buy the car), about $4 a gallon for gas, and less than $40 for a mechanic. They planned to sell the Jeep for what they bought it for, as many expats have done, but by the end of their stay the tourism industry and economy had taken a massive dive because of political unrest, Mark said, so they left the car with a trusted friend.



They spent more on food than they anticipated.

For food, the Tews shopped at a chain grocery store with imported items, which were often more expensive. It would have been cheaper had they stuck to the open-air markets, Mark said.



The family ended up staying an extra month in Nicaragua and spent more than they had planned to, but Mark said the investment was well worth it.

"For someone like me who watches every penny, it was a bit painful to shift my mindset with regard to the additional expenses," Mark said.

"We could have absolutely done it cheaper, but the experience was worth the investment," he added. "We had to be willing to make financial adjustments to have the experience that we wanted. And I actually ended up working and growing my accounting business a bit more than I anticipated and was able to more than offset our unanticipated increase in expense with what I earned."



Here's exactly how to get into Harvard Law School, according to the chief admissions officer, 2 students, and 2 admissions consultants

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harvard law school graduates

  • Kristi Jacobson, the chief admissions officer at Harvard Law School, Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep's executive director of admissions programs, and Anna Ivey, a professional admissions consultant, spoke with Business Insider about how to prepare and optimize your application to Harvard Law School.
  • When you send in your application matters, so applying strategically is smart. 
  • HLS takes the GRE — but the LSAT is still a better bet. 
  • Fancy titles don't make for better letters of recommendation — and less is more when it comes to personal essays and addendums. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Cameron Clark started training for a future legal career when he was still a teenager. In high school in Houston, he sharpened his rhetorical and critical-thinking skills on the debate team. In college at The University of Texas at Austin, he cultivated relationships with professors, interned, and kept his nose in the books and his GPA high. That diligence ultimately earned him acceptance-letter gold: entry to Harvard Law School. 

Even in light of all his hard work, admission into the highly selective program was still an impressive feat. Clark graduated in 2018, the year that, according to data from the American Bar Association, the number of lawyers in the United States reached a 21st-century high. Only a small fraction are HLS grads: In 2018, the school — currently third in the rankings, behind just Stanford and Yale — received 7,419 applications and offered admission to just 12% of applicants. Kristi Jacobson, chief admissions officer at HLS, shared that there are currently a lean 561 students enrolled in the 1L class of 2022.  

Cameron Clark

But while Clark's story sounds like an archetypal path to the Ivy Leagues, it's also far from the only way to get there. Per law school admissions coaching consultant Anna Ivey, a former dean of the University of Chicago Law School herself, "HLS admissions officers are very conscientious about recruiting minorities of various kinds: They want a diversity of colleges people and geographic areas," including veterans and older applicants.

Which is all to say: There is no standard profile for an HLS student. And though the bar is incontrovertibly high, with the right preparation and knowledge, it could be more reachable than you imagine. Read on for expert insight about how to approach the LSAT, optimize your application materials, and avoid errors admissions officers see year after year. 

Be strategic about when you submit your application 

Some students, like Clark, begin laying the groundwork years before ever actually applying. Others decide they want to go to law school during college after working for a few years, or later in life. 

But when it comes to the application cycle for next year's enrollment: "All things being equal, earlier is better," explained Jacobson, HLS' chief admissions officer. 

Anna Ivey

Historically, the school has admitted students on a rolling basis. But in 2019, it made the shift to rounds of admission, posting the three dates applicants would be admitted on the detailed and informative Harvard Law School admissions blog: December 16, February 10, and March 16. The switch was designed to stagger the volume of submissions as well as give anxiety-ridden applicants more concrete insight into the process. The idea is that if you're cutting it close to one date, it's unlikely your materials will be reviewed during that round and thus it's more sensible to aim for the next window instead of rushing. 

That being said: Don't dawdle, urged Ivey. "With law school admissions, there [are] all kinds of stuff that happens after you submit," she explained. Interviews, always conducted via video, must be scheduled and completed for those moving onto the next round. 

Take the LSAT even though you can use the GRE 

Historically, the LSAT has been the go-to exam for would-be law students. But in recent years, a number of schools across the country— HLS among them — have allowed students to submit GRE scores instead. Still, most of the time, it's wise for students to stick with the LSAT, explained Jeff Thomas, Kaplan Test Prep's executive director of admissions programs. 

Jeff Thomas

The reason being that if you're applying to schools that don't take the GRE, you're going to have to take the LSAT anyway. And if you take the LSAT, the ABA rules require that schools evaluate you using those scores. 

"The bottom line is: Unless the only schools you apply to take the GRE, don't bother to take it," said Thomas. Plus, there's a silver lining to all the LSAT work you'll put in. The test is designed to mimic the skills one uses in law school, so consider it pre-training for your future scholastic pursuits. 

Focus your study routine on areas of high impact 

People often ask Thomas if it's true that the LSAT is such a heavily weighted factor. "The answer, quite frankly, is yes," he said. The range for the LSAT score is 120 to 180, with 151 as the median 50th percentile score; spots at elite schools typically go to the top 1% to 2%, or those with a 170 or above. You have to be in the ballpark to be competitive — nor can you write or interview your way around poor scores. 

The good news is that practice makes … well, perhaps not perfect, but high potential for improvement. 

"I equate it to learning how to play a sport or a musical instrument: Just because you don't have the skills today doesn't mean you can't develop them tomorrow," said Thomas. The test is given nine times every year. Thomas encourages applicants to pick their date for a time when they can spend three months beforehand treating it as a top priority. 

Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie

While it's tempting to immediately sign up for a prep course, consider testing your skills solo, offered Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, HLS class of 2021. "Before you sink a ton of money into a class or a tutor — or even the books, which are $50 each — think about where you are. Not everyone needs to learn in a classroom setting," she said. In her case, practice tests revealed that logic games were her weak point, so she doubled down on studying for that section.

Clark added another element to his studying. "You have to take [practice exams] in as arduous of conditions as you can," he said. Prepare for the nerves you'll feel on the day and try to mimic those during practice exams, he advised. In his case, that meant taking practice tests in distracting circumstances, including chilly temperatures and a noisy Starbucks. 

It paid off: The day Clark sat for the LSAT, the room was freezing and the room was a chorus of sniffles, but he had no trouble staying focused. 

Pick recommenders who can champion your accomplishments

When it comes to asking people to write a letter on your behalf, you might assume that impressive titles are a priority. Not so, said Jacobson. "It's about substance over signature," she explained, adding that someone who has more to say about you is a better choice than someone who you encountered only briefly. "The letters are really important and they're much more meaningful if we have a strong sense of who you are from someone who knows you well," she added. 

Kristi Jacobson

When reaching out to these people, it can be helpful to share samples of your work or jog their memories with anecdotes about your background together. Just make sure you're giving them adequate lead time — Jacobson recommends three months at least. 

"I can't tell you the number of times I've read a letter of recommendation where the recommender says something like, 'I didn't have enough time to prepare this because so-and-so asked me only two weeks ago,'" she shared.

Keep your personal statement brief — and personal

In total, there are four essential components of the HLS application: the academic record starting with college, LSAT (or GRE) scores, the interview, and the personal statement. HLS doesn't require that the personal statement be about why you want to go to Harvard or even why you want to go to law school, necessarily.

"The emphasis on the personal statement is 'personal,'" said Ivey. "You're not writing it as if it were a term paper or a dissertation: The actual topic is you." 

The two-paged, double-spaced essay shouldn't be a rehash of your resume either, added Jacobson. Rather, it should complement everything else you've submitted without marching the reader through information they've already encountered. She also recommended having someone who doesn't know you well read it over and summarize it back to you: If their description doesn't capture what you're trying to convey, it's time to revise. 

Clark surmounted this challenge by leaning on the tools of narrative journalism. His personal statement opened with a description of a Black Lives Matter die-in protest he attended during undergrad that happened to occur during a major civil rights anniversary. Building on that structure, he was able to delve into his passions and goals and touch on Harvard's legacy of educating civil rights leaders throughout history. 

Clark also submitted an optional statement, something that applicants should only do if they really feel there is something that hasn't been covered in other areas of their application, according to every expert Business Insider spoke with. This one-paged, double spaced supplement has an analog in the "diversity statements" applicants write for other law schools. 

"You can take it in lots of directions. One of my favorites from last year was someone who wrote about being a unicyclist," said Jacobson. 

In Clark's case, he wrote about what people who are not white, male, or of means bring to the HLS community-at-large: "A lot of the time, you come into a space like that if you're black, queer, low-income, or an immigrant, and your experiences are the topics being debated," he said. "You need me to do the unpaid labor of teaching your students about black culture and queer culture and these issues."

But it's also worth remembering that just because you can submit more information doesn't mean you must — or should. Ivey argued that something that seems so important that it seems to merit an addendum may be better incorporated into your personal statement.

"Even if a school invites you to submit something, if it's not required, you should really have a good reason for sending it," said Ivey. Overdoing it can look self-important, and admissions staffers are already neck-deep in paperwork.

Do your research before going into the interview 

Clark recalled his interview as being really "anticlimactic" — a straightforward video session where people are asked to speak in depth about why they want to go to law school. When counseling current applicants, he reminded them to keep their online presence updated — particularly LinkedIn — and read up on the person who will be interviewing them.

"Basically, remember that people are researching you," he added. 

Ivey recommended being prepared to talk about why you want to pursue a law degree and what you hope to accomplish. "A lot of people apply to law school as a path of least resistance, and admissions officers are looking to weed out people who are there for prestige or rankings," she said. "The interview is less about a right or wrong answer and more about: Can you have a conversation? Can you sound like a thoughtful person?" 

Last but not least, Jacobson added that applicants should consider anything they included in their materials fair game, and to refamiliarize themselves with what they wrote. Once, a few years ago, an applicant listed "baking bread" as one of their personal interests — when Jacobson asked them about it, they blanked. If it's in your file, she said, "You need to be prepared to talk about it."

SEE ALSO: Here's exactly what it takes to get accepted into Harvard Business School, according to 5 grads and the managing director of admissions

READ MORE: BUSINESS SCHOOL LIBRARY: Everything you need to know about applying to business school and financing your degree

Join the conversation about this story »

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The Style Series: How a millennial entrepreneur turned her knitting blog into a million-dollar business

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Christian Fagan Pardy

Christina Fagan-Pardy turned her college knitting blog — where she'd show off the cool items she would knit — into a million-dollar business. By using Instagram as a marketing tool, she was able to build a sizable millennial following and consumer base, selling the items she once knitted for fun on her blog. Today, the likes of  journalist Katie Couric and TV personality Kristin Cavallari are fans.

In an interview with Business Insider, Fagan-Pardy spoke about her career beginnings and the lessons she's learned since founding her business in 2015. 

"I started [my knitting] blog in college in 2012, but at that point it was very much like a fun project."

I actually ended up founding [Sh*t That I Knit] in 2015. I was using Instagram as a platform and to connect with people and gained so much momentum that I decided to make it into more than just a side hustle. I quit my full time job in May 2015.boston seaport place shit that i knit 3

"In September 2015, we did a Kickstarter and the goal was $15,000."

It was very much bootstrapped in the beginning and very much a side hustle. In September 2015, we did a Kickstarter and the goal was $15,000. We raised that in under 24 hours and then went on to raise $25,000 ... We were profitable within our first year of business. We raised [more funding in] smaller friends and family rounds the following year, and [in another round] this past summer.

"We employ 170 women in Lima, [Peru]. Here in Boston, in our headquarters, we have seven people on the team."

It's been so new for me going from working by myself to managing six other people ... figuring out how to outsource to another country when I have had really no experience in importing, manufacturing, producing, freight forwarding, or anything like that was definitely a big challenge.

"I actually went to a trade show during the wrong season."

I went to a trade show in New York City that was very expensive for me at the time, and very time consuming. And it was for Spring/Summer and I was selling knit hats! So that is definitely something I've learned over the past couple of years — how the retailer buying cycle works and how much farther in advance they buy for wholesale. boston seaport place shit that i knit 2

"I was marketing on Instagram."

The majority of the women who applied to work for me were millennials in their twenties and thirties. I think that there was definitely a resurgence of the DIY space between 2012 and 2015, with Pinterest and Instagram exploding. People love to share what they're knitting on Instagram, and it's a great community of people on there. 

"Our customer base is very much a millennial shopper."

I think [millennials] gravitate toward us because of branding — also because of our product, obviously —but because it's how millennials shop. It has to do with believing the brand has some connection to whoever is running it and also having some sort of social giveback. People love that we're employing women in Peru and that we also donate knitting kits to ... people who can learn how to knit while undergoing cancer treatment.Christina Fagan Pardy   Ladd Lavender

"Having a physical space and being able to connect with the customer is still important."

We realized [the benefit of] having our own pop-up as a place for customers to come and test out and see our products and interact with us as a brand. As we see more and more e-commerce brands popping up, you'll see more pop-ups where people can actually go in. I think the average consumer still wants to go in and interact [with the product] in person ... [The Current at Boston Seaport] has allowed us to be really flexible [with a month and a half lease]. That would be really nerve wracking if you were signing the lease for an entire year.

"Fifty of us won [theTory Burch Fellowship],which was great."

It was a nice opportunity for me. Burch flew us to New York to attend workshops and network and go out for dinner to have time to spend with other female entrepreneurs. It was so therapeutic to have conversations with other women who own their own brands.

boston seaport place shit that i knit 1

"I definitely do deal with a little bit of imposter syndrome."

Making big decisions, especially with the team now, is big for me. But I think we're moving so quickly. I don't really have a lot of time to dwell on it, so I just have to keep moving forward. To be honest, [there are] definitely really stressful moments here. We have a lot going on. We're all traveling and moving around and sales are going crazy, but we're having a lot of fun. We're selling something that's a really happy product that people love .... So I've gotten better at dealing with stress over the years. 

"I'm not one of those people who grew up saying 'I'm going to be an entrepreneur some day.'"

That was never a part of what I thought my career path is going to be. I was in sales prior to this, so I think that experience has really helped me in starting my own business .... I think because I love this company so much, it's made me a a great entrepreneur, because it's such a passion for me that I am thinking about it 24/7. It's my hobby. It's everything to me. So it's made me a very natural entrepreneur. I love it so much.

SEE ALSO: How one millennial CEO built a luxury eyewear brand that's been spotted on everyone from Jeff Bezos to Brad Pitt

DON'T MISS: The CEO of Tiffany said customers 'don't care' who owns the brand just days before the company agreed to be bought by luxury giant LVMH

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This woman is making a fortune selling $900 blankets she knits without needles

The best Instant Pot and electric pressure cookers

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  • Electric multicookers are so versatile, they can make all kinds of meals and even replace several different appliances.
  • The latest multicookers can handle pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, stewing, and other cooking functions, all in one pot. 
  • Of all the options out there, the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker is our top pick because it is affordable, can perform different functions, and make all kinds of food.

The mark of perfectly prepared ribs is the meat falling off of the bone. However, if you want that level of quality, you need to keep your slab of pork or beef in a smoker for 12-plus hours, right? Not when you have a modern multicooker.

Electric multicookers are quickly supplanting single-function appliances like rice cookers and slow cookers because of their ability to make dinner in a hurry with little fuss. These countertop multicookers can do a variety of functions, with pressure cooking being the most popular; they can also slow cook, sauté, steam, make porridge and yogurt, and warm, while some can even air-fry.

Pressure cooking isn't a new concept, but electric pressure cookers have made it easier and safer to do. For the purposes of this guide, we are going to focus on electric ones since they are much more popular and functional. You may hear these multicookers being referred to colloquially as an "instant pot," which is in reference to the brand of multicookers, Instant Pot, the darling product that's made pressure cooking popular.

But Instant Pot isn't the only manufacturer (some will argue that Instant Pot isn't even the originator of this type of product, as they've been popular in Asia). You'll find plenty of imitators, but there are also ones that rival an Instant Pot. And, if you are someone who hates cluttering a kitchen with cooking appliances and tools, trust us: the flexibility and efficiency of a multicooker will be worth sacrificing some counter space. 

We conducted our testing whenever possible, to determine which multicookers do what they say they can do, provide consistent performance over extended use, and offer great value for your money. Whether it's an Instant Pot or another brand of multicooker, here are the best you can buy.

Here are the best electric multicookers you can buy:

Prices and links are current as of 1/24/2020. 

SEE ALSO: The best Crock-Pots you can buy

The best multicooker overall

Easy to use, the Instant Pot Duo makes delicious home-cooked meals a cinch, even when you have to work late. It's a great option for pressure-cooking beginners, and the 8-quart version is ideal for feeding large families.

The Instant Pot Duo gives you a fast and easy way to prepare wholesome meals. All you need to do is load the ingredients in the pot, cover it, and start cooking. This multicooker can have juicy pulled pork or falling-off-the-bone ribs ready for you in less than an hour.

Not only does it reduce cooking time by up to 75%, but it also helps the food retain all of the important water-soluble vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is not just a pressure cooker: You can also use it as a steamer, rice cooker, warmer, and slow cooker. You can brown and sauté with it, as well as make yogurt (although that isn't a very popular function, nor is it that great at it).

The USDA and Instant Pot's maker say it's safe to use a pressure cooker for canning select items, but the National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against it. We don't know many people who have used an Instant Pot for canning, nor is it a popular function, so it's not something we would recommend. However, it doesn't make this appliance any less useful.

Pressure cookers, specifically the stove-top variety, have a history of being dangerous, but the Instant Pot Duo has passed strict ULC and UL certification. Clean-up is also simple since the removable, non-stick pot and sealing ring are all dishwasher safe. The lid also comes off entirely, although we recommend hand-washing it. This electric pressure cooker also comes with a soup spoon, rack, measuring cup, recipe book, and a rice paddle.

The Instant Pot Duo comes in three sizes: 8 Quart, 6 Quart, and 3 Quart (affectionately known as Duo Mini). They are all essentially the same except in capacity, but the 6 Quart is one of the most popular. Because it's no longer the newest model, it's now much more affordable.

But don't think the lower price means the Duo series is inferior: Compared with the newer Instant Pots, there are definitely improvements that justify their premium price, like a better control panel and adjustable pressure. But in terms of actual cooking capability, the Duo is still a terrific entry-point into electric pressure cooking or as a gift. The nice balance of price, features, and performance make this Instant Pot the overall best multicooker you can buy.

When Insider Picks first reviewed the Instant Pot Duo, the appliance was the latest rage in cooking, taking the internet by storm. By the end of our testing, our reviewer wrote, "If you're looking to add an appliance to your kitchen, I can think of few that would be of more use than the Instant Pot." He also mentioned that people who want to see their food actually cooking, won't be able to do this since the entire unit is sealed during the pressure-cooking period.

Guides Editor Les Shu is an avid user of the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo. He loves the ease of use and the many recipes available in cookbooks and on the internet, from which he has made many delicious meals: chicken tikka masala, Chinese porridge, sweet corn chowder, Hainanese chicken rice, and the best potato salad ever. But usually, the meals aren't fancy: poached chicken breasts (from frozen), chili, and simple soups, to name a few. It's also fantastic for boiling eggs. The Instant Pot is also ideal for making a large batch of food, either for a family or meal prep. Because everything is cooked in one pot (usually), there's less mess and scrubbing the inner pot is no chore, although the lid can be annoying to clean.

Despite being an older Instant Pot series, the Duo is still the most highly recommended among expert reviewers and users alike. The Instant Pot Duo is still Wirecutter's top pick, and has favorable reviews from The Kitchn, Pressure Cooking Today, CNET, and many others.

Read our full review of the Instant Pot Duo

Pros: Easy to clean, safe, stainless steel pot that's easy to clean, versatile

Cons: The gasket tends to retain odors, there is a bit of a learning curve, lid can be annoying to clean



The best budget multicooker

The Instant Pot Lux is a scaled-back and less expensive alternative to our top pick, but it has basic features most home cooks would need.

The Instant Pot Lux was introduced as an entry-level option. The biggest difference is that it has one less use: it does not make yogurt. There are also a few minor differences between Instant Pot's two top models: The Duo has 14 built-in programs versus the Lux's 10, more pre-set temperatures (12 vs. 7), and can keep your food warm for up to 99 hours, while the Lux only does it for 10. If you are willing to live without these features, you can save a little money by choosing the Lux.

The Lux is a capable appliance, and you'll find plenty of bloggers recommending it. Positives include the safety features and the variety of utensils that came with it, and its silent operation. In fact, for most users, the Lux will be just as good as the Duo. You won't miss the yogurt function, as very few people use an Instant Pot for that nor does it do a particularly good job.

So, when isn't the Lux our overall pick? Well, oftentimes, the price difference isn't that big. And when the Duo goes on sale, we've seen it listed at the same price as the Lux, or even cheaper. In this instance, we recommending you opt for the Duo. Other times, when the Lux is much more affordable, we wouldn't hesitate in recommending the Lux either. 

Pros: Most of the same benefits as the Duo but at a lower price

Cons: Doesn't make yogurt, has fewer programs and pre-set temperatures



The best smart multicooker

For slightly more money, the Instant Pot Ultra gives you greater control over your pressure cooking, as well as a fully digital control panel.

If the Instant Pot Ultra was a bit less expensive, it would easily become our overall pick. We think that in terms of price, features, and performance, the Instant Pot Duo is still a terrific buy and is the best multicooker/pressure cooker for most people. With that said, if you're willing to spend a little more, the Instant Pot Ultra is a souped-up model that offers a few more features than the Duo.

There are several noticeable upgrades. Unlike the Duo, the Ultra has gone completely digital with its control panel. Now, all settings are adjusted by using a single knob, scrolling through menus on a large LCD. The LCD also shows more info than before. We think if you're not a fan of digital navigation, you're probably not going to like this. Otherwise, it's relatively intuitive. As a 10-in-1 multicooker, you get extra cooking modes.

The Ultra also has a new steam release valve that automatically resets (opens) with the push of a button. For those afraid of turning the valve on a pressure cooker and getting burned from the steam, worry no more. Otherwise, the lid closes and seals like the Duo's.

The biggest advantage is the adjustable temperature, pressure, and altitude settings (the Duo only has two pressure settings). There's also a low-temperature mode for, as Wirecutter puts it, sous vide cooking, where you cook foods at a low but consistent temperature, similar to how immersion circulators work. When food is done cooking, you can turn on the warming mode, which also maintains the desired temperature without fear of burning or overcooking anything.

Wirecutter chose the Ultra as its "upgrade pick," and we agree. For not much money, you get some very useful features not found in the Duo. At some point, we can easily see the Ultra replacing the Duo as our overall pick (with the Duo becoming our budget pick). For now, the Ultra is great if you're graduating from the Duo or another basic pressure cooker, while the Duo remains the best for first-time owners or anyone who doesn't care about bells and whistles.

The Instant Pot Ultra is available in 3, 6, and 8 quarts; the 6-quart option is the best for most people.

Pros: Adjustable temperature and pressure, altitude setting, reset button for steam valve, LCD shows more info, a consistent low-temperature mode

Cons: Can be hard to clean, some may be turned off by digital controls



The best at quick-heating and pressure

The Zavor Lux LCD is an advanced multicooker that comes up to pressure and temperature quickly, and the 8-quart version is a good value.

When America's Test Kitchen named the Zavor Lux LCD as its favorite multicooker, we took notice. After all, could there be anything better than an Instant Pot? Well, as it turns out, while the Zavor Lux LCD performed just as well as an Instant Pot, there were a few things where it excelled.

While Zavor may be an unknown name, it's the successor (of sorts) of Fagor, a defunct manufacturer of multicookers. The Lux LCD, which is Zavor's flagship model, does all the things other multicookers do: pressure cook, slow cook, saute, steam, etc. There are preset modes for cooking rice, soup, veggies, yogurt, and more. It also has a "Flex" mode that lets you adjust the temperature if "high" and "low" aren't precise enough; this also allows the Lux LCD to have a pseudo-sous-vide function. In terms of features and performance, it's comparable to the Instant Pot Ultra.

We used the 8-quart version of the Lux LCD to sear meats and pressure cook. Something we noticed immediately was how quickly it got hot. In fact, the olive oil we had inside the pot started smoking before it even came to temperature. This is no fault of the Lux LCD, but avoid putting any fats that don't have a high smoking point until you are ready to cook.

With pressure cooking, we thought the Lux LCD got up to pressure slightly faster than the Instant Pot Duo, the overall pick that we tested alongside. What America's Test Kitchen noted is that the Lux LCD has a metal brace to keep gaskets better-sealed. In one test, the power cord came loose and we didn't realize it. As we plugged it back in and reset the pressure cooker, we noticed that the gasket remained sealed, even though the power had been cut. We also like the easy-to-use release valve.

With the LCD panel, you can see if the lid has been properly sealed and see a progress bar of when the cooker comes to pressure or temperature. However, the menus are a bit tricky to navigate. Using a scroll wheel, it reminded us of old iPods. As for navigation and information, the Instant Pot Ultra takes a win here.

One thing we like about the Instant Pot that you won't find in the Lux LCD: There's no place to hold the lid. Also, we miss the chime that tells you the lid is sealed.

If there's a real advantage an Instant Pot has over the Lux LCD, it's that the majority of recipes we found online are written with Instant Pots in mind. It's nice that you can adjust the temperature precisely, but most recipes will either say "low" or "high," which you can do with the Lux LCD. The point is, if you're used to the basic functions of an Instant Pot, the Lux LCD might seem overly complicated. Once you master it, the Lux LCD works as well as an Instant Pot.

At the end of the day, the food we made in the Lux LCD tasted great. In fact, one dish, a Keto-friendly, no-bean chili, was the best we've tasted. Even the "failed" version — when the unit became unplugged — tasted great. With that said, we made the same chili in the Instant Pot Duo and it also came out great.

In general, the 8-quart Lux LCD is less expensive than the 8-quart Instant Pot Ultra; in the 6-quart category, it may be the opposite, depending on if there's a sale. You can get 8-quart Zavor and Instant Pot models that are less expensive, but you lose many of the advanced features. However, for the price, the 8-quart Lux LCD represents a good value thanks to the large capacity, advanced functions, and great performance.— Les Shu, guides editor

Pros: Comes up to pressure and heats up fast, good seal, adjustable temperature, performs as well as an Instant Pot

Cons: Menu system takes time to learn, no place to hold lid



The best combination multicooker

The Ninja Foodi combines two popular appliances — a pressure cooker and an air fryer — into one.

The gargantuan size is what makes Ninja's Foodi so ridiculous looking. It's so big that it may not fit on small countertops. But there's a good reason for its size: It combines a pressure cooker with another trendy small appliance at the moment, an air fryer.

The Foodi looks like an Instant Pot that's had too much to eat over the holidays. The attached lid takes care of air-frying duties, while a separate removable sealing lid is used for pressure cooking. When you're pressure cooking, the air-fryer lid stays open, which makes it look even weirder. When not in use, you'll have to store the pressure cooker lid elsewhere, as you can't fit it on top of the Foodi while also closing the air-fryer lid. A third function is the ability to dehydrate foods, like fruit. There's a basic control panel that's easy to use, although at first glance, it's a bit hard to differentiate what's for frying and what's for pressure cooking.

But once you get over its looks, you'll discover an actually useful appliance that cooks food well. In her review, Insider Picks' Connie Chen said, cooking with the Foodi "is pretty much fool-proof." Wirecutter found the Foodi did well with pressure cooking and "as good a job as any air fryer," but noted that it currently does not recommend any air fryer "since an oven or toaster oven with convection does the same thing and fits more food." Plenty of owners of countertop air fryers would disagree. (Wirecutter did not include the Foodi as one of its top picks, but didn't have anything negative to say about its cooking capabilities.) 

We agree with Wirecutter that the cooking volume is small. Despite its large exterior, its pot only offers 6.5 quarts for pressure cooking (about the same as a 6-quart Instant Pot) and 4 quarts for air frying (via the crisping basket). According to Ninja, that's still enough room for a 6-pound whole chicken. Ninja also offers the Foodi as an 8-quart version with a 5-quart crisping basket, but of course, it's physically bigger. 

One feature we like is something Ninja refers to as TenderCrisp. It's nothing more than just the Foodi's ability to pressure cook food and then crisping it up with the air fryer. Any Instant Pot user who's tried to roast or fry chicken, such as Guides Editor Les Shu, knows what a chore it can be — pressure cooking first, and then transferring it to an oven, broiler, or grill. You also risk having the food fall apart when moved. The Foodi can do both out of one pot, which makes it so much more efficient, especially if you like fried foods or want to add some extra flavor and texture.

Read our full review of the Ninja Foodi

Pros: Three appliances in one (air frying, pressure cooking, and dehydrating), TenderCrisp allows for pressure cooking and air frying in one pot 

Cons: Expensive, very large, cooking volume is small considering its overall size



The best high-end multicooker

Breville's Fast Slow Pro is a high-quality multicooker with a unique safety system, auto steam release, and adjustable pressure settings. It has a really high price, but it successfully slow cooks and pressure cooks food in one easy-to-use appliance.

If you're looking to invest in a quality multicooker that is well-made and smart, look no further than the 6-quart Fast Slow Pro from Breville. This is not a knock on Instant Pot, but from our experience in testing and using Breville products, its small appliances are better constructed, and it's apparent in this cooker. The downside is that Breville charges a premium, but if you want longevity, reliability, and backing from a trusted company, Breville is a go-to.

The Fast Slow Pro is elegant in its design, down to the control panel with its LCD screen and cluster of knobs and buttons. The menu system is reminiscent of Breville's smart ovens, which we've never had issues in using. However, Wired found it difficult for most people to use, which we understand: If you have trouble using the buttons on a microwave, then the Fast Slow Pro will seem intimidating. But you could make that same argument for the Instant Pot and other multicookers.

We like the three-way safety system the removable lid employs, giving us more peace of mind; to be fair, we've never had issues with Instant Pot lids and find them to be just as safe. Although CNET has a favorable review, its reviewer found the lid frustrating to use because it wouldn't seal properly (the problem had to do with a loose nut caused by the locking knob). What we also like is the button to initiate steam release. There are plenty of people who freak out about manually releasing the steam valve of an Instant Pot, so this is a nice feature for those folks.

For cooking, the Fast Slow Pro lets you fine-tune the pressure between high and low, as well as altitude, similar to the Instant Pot Ultra. It has 11 preset cooking modes and a manual setting, and there are sensors to automatically determine the best temperature and pressure during the cooking process. The adjustable temperature also makes it a great slow cooker, and you can steam, sear, sauté, and reduce sauces. What Wired, which was the most negative of any product reviews site, discovered was that food came out disappointing when following pressure cooker recipes, so users may need to play around with the settings (this is something we've had to do with the Instant Pot too).

The biggest complaint among owners is the price, which is more than double our overall favorite, the Instant Pot Duo. You can also get many of the same features in the Instant Pot Ultra. Ultimately, despite our love of Breville products, this wouldn't be our first recommendation, but if you like Breville's craftsmanship and its smart features, it's a fine, albeit expensive multicooker.

Pros: Lid with safety system, auto steam release, 11 preset cooking modes, adjustable pressure

Cons: Expensive, available in one size, complex controls



Other multicookers we considered

Since the Instant Pot came on the scene, we've seen the introduction of many electric multicookers. Some are worthy alternatives that will please many home cooks (they just didn't make our list for one reason or another), while the rest just couldn't offer anything different or better than our favorites. We are also a bit shocked by how expensive some lesser-known brands are, costing the same as the Instant Pot Duo. Here are the models we looked at.

Instant Pot Max and Smart WiFi

The Max is the flagship Instant Pot. Insider Picks' Remi Rosmarin reviewed it and found there was much to like. However, she believes she would have had the same experience from any of the Instant Pot models. It's significantly more than the Instant Pot Ultra, but doesn't add anything radical than what the Ultra offers.

The Smart WiFi is an app-enabled model that lets you control the cooker from a smartphone. You can create custom settings for recipes so that the next time you cook, it's a one-touch affair. You can also control it remotely, which is handy for slow cooking food when you are ready (instead of leaving it on all day). However, we've read plenty of mixed reviews (Wirecutter thought it was more trouble than it's worth) and earlier units were even recalled. If a Wi-Fi-enable multicooker appeals to you, we suggest waiting for a second-generation version (if Instant Pot plans to make one).

Secura 6-in-1 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker

This Secura pressure cooker was our previous pick as the best multicooker for beginners. It received high marks from several product-review sites. However, it only has six functions, costs as much as an Instant Pot, and had quality-control issues. An Instant Pot is just as easy to use and more reliable, so we removed it from our list.

Elite Platinum EPC-808 Maxi-Matic Electric Pressure Cooker

Our former pick for the best multicooker for big meals, we also removed the unit from Elite Platinum from our list because it didn't offer anything that the Instant Pot or Zavor Lux LCD doesn't have. Its only highlight was its 8-quart capacity, but for the price, you can get an 8-quart Instant Pot Lux or even a Duo.

Faberware Digital Pressure Cooker

This was Good Housekeeping's number-two and "best value" pick. The Faberware is a 7-in-1 multicooker that offered solid performance, according to GH. It has favorable reviews from buyers, but it doesn't offer anything unique when compared to our favorite Instant Pot, and for the moment, an Instant Pot can be had for nearly the same price. 

Zavor Lux

The Zavor Lux (not to be confused with Instant Pot's Lux series) is the other favorite of Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. Like the Zavor Lux LCD, which we recommend, this has an extra metal brace that keeps the gasket in place, which helps create a tighter seal. Most importantly, the testers said foods came out excellent, which we agree with after cooking with the Zavor Lux LCD. For not much more money, you can get the more advanced Lux LCD (see our review above), which offers more precise cooking and more functions.



Here's how to plan an amazing Valentine's Day dinner date for $100 or less

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  • Valentine's Day is around the corner, and if you haven't budgeted for a fancy night out with dinner and drinks, there is still time to salvage the evening with a romantic night at home, filled with cooking and red wine.
  • If you're already feeling stressed about running around to a bunch of stores to get everything you need, here is how you can order it all delivered right to your door. 
  • We've found all the ingredients for a delicious homemade steak dinner, a bottle of wine, and a fun activity to complete all available to be sent to you in time for Valentine's Day.
  • Best of all, it'll cost you less than $100.
  • Shopping for more Valentine's Day gifts? Check out all our gift guides here.

Whether you're in a long-term relationship, experiencing your first romantic holiday with a new partner, or even hanging with friends, planning Valentine's Day can be frustrating and expensive. Society expects you to put together a fancy outfit and splurge on an expensive dinner at a trendy eatery, all to prove to your Instagram followers that you're in a healthy and thriving relationship.

Reject that unnecessary paradigm this year by crafting a lovely night in with your Valentine. Don't worry, you can still do your humblebrag post on Instagram to make your ex jealous, it just won't cost you half of your week's paycheck.

There is nothing more romantic than working in the kitchen together as a unit, and if you follow these instructions, the end result will be much more satisfying than anything served at the local steakhouse. While there is some extra labor that goes into cooking at home, the benefits of staying in outweigh the additional effort.

Plus, you can down an entire bottle of wine and not have to worry about getting home. And the cherry on top of this lovely evening at home is that you can get everything you need to create a romantic evening for less than $100. 

Here's how to plan an awesome Valentine's Day dinner at home for $100 or less:

Make a delicious dinner together with help from Amazon

Even if you are not a skilled home chef, you can still make a delicious Valentine's Day dinner and get everything you need online.

Since acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon's online food marketplace has become a great resource to conveniently shop for all your grocery needs. You can sign up for services like Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry, or just order from Amazon how you would normally. You need to be an Amazon Prime member to order Amazon Fresh products, but this membership also makes you eligible for special discounts on Whole Foods products.

My girlfriend and I (with her doing the cooking heavy lifting) have made the same Valentine's Day dinner the past few years, and it's become somewhat of a tradition. We use a couple online recipes to make a balsamic vinegar basted steak and dijon roasted potatoes, plus we add a healthy portion of red wine. The recipes are fairly easy to follow, so even an inexperienced chef should be able to execute it properly.

Here's everything you'll need to make our special Valentine's Day steak dinner for two: 

Assuming you already have salt, pepper, olive oil and any other seasoning you like on your steak, this is everything you'll need to make a delicious Valentine's Day dinner at home, all delivered to you with the click of a button.

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Find the right bottle of wine to share from ReserveBar

I feel it is necessary to start this section with a disclaimer that I am not a sommelier. Let's just say that a large percentage of the wine I have consumed in my life has been poured from a cardboard box. However, if you are looking to order an entire Valentine's Day meal without leaving your home, I am confident in recommending ReserveBar as the place find the right bottle of wine online.

Because it is Valentine's Day, red wine seems like the appropriate choice, and there are a few bottles that you can select that will keep you under the $100 mark for the evening. Ordering from ReserveBar does require a shipping and service fee, so we'll put a cap of $20 on the bottle of wine to stay under the $100 mark. Within that price range, there are 21 different red wine options available on ReserveBar, like the Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma Series Merlot bottle for $18 or the Teddy's Cabernet Sauvignon bottle for $17.

Once you have selected your bottle, make sure that you have the right set of tools on hand to open it before finalizing your purchase.

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Piece together a 1,000-piece puzzle for screen-free fun

Streaming services like Hulu and Disney+ give you the ability to stay in and watch a new movie any night. Resist the temptation to stream your favorite Disney Channel original movie and make this night special by eliminating screens and participating in an activity together. I'd even suggest hiding your phones in a different room so that you and your partner are not tempted.

Because Valentine's Day is an inherently romantic holiday, this 1,000 piece puzzle of the beautiful Cinque Terre in Italy is a fun and challenging activity. Plus, once you finish, it will feel like you and your loved one have been transported to the coast of Italy.

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It all adds up to less than $100

If you've been doing the math along the way, you will find that not only have you crafted a lovely evening to share with your partner, but you've also saved money in the process.

You have purchased groceries from Amazon at a price of $47.63, which is about half the price of a fancy dinner out for two. With a $20 cap on the bottle of wine and the shipping and service charge adding up to $38.26, the total becomes $85.89. Finally, the puzzle is $13.99, squeezing your total cost just under $100 at $99.88.

Compared to a night out at a fancy restaurant, this is a great value for any couple looking to save money without sacrificing a lovely evening together.



Check out our Valentine's Day gift guides



Late oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens' massive Texas ranch has been languishing on the market for years — and it just got a $30 million price cut. Here's a look inside.

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T. Boone Pickens, a famous oil prospector, hedge-fund founder, and philanthropist, passed away on September 11,2019, at age 91.

Pickens had a long, successful career in business. He founded the oil and gas company Mesa Petroleum and the hedge fund BP Capital Management.

In 2017, he made headlines for putting his 100-square-mile ranch in the Texas Panhandle, northeast of Amarillo, on the market for a whopping $250 million. However, according to a report by Mansion Global, on January 14, 2020, the property received a $30 million price cut and is now listed for $220 million.

Keep reading for a look inside.

SEE ALSO: There's a house designed to look like a giant wooden tent in the middle of a Japanese village — here's a look inside

DON'T MISS: Inside the $72 million ranch the size of San Francisco and 1 hour east of the Bay Area that the state of California may want to turn into a state park

When Pickens first bought about 2,900 acres of land here in 1971, the only structure was a corrugated metal house that he used to stay warm during days of hunting quail.

Source: Hall & Hall, Mesa Vista Ranch



Since then, the ranch has increased by 22 times its original size and now covers some 64,800 acres.

Source: Hall & Hall



Additionally, there are now a number of different structures: the 12,000-square-foot lake house; the 33,000-square-foot lodge; the 6,000-square-foot family house; the 1,700-square-foot gatehouse; the 1,600-square-foot pub; and the 11,000-square-foot kennel.

Source: Hall & Hall



Pickens' childhood home even sits on the property. The actual structure was moved there from Oklahoma in 2008.

Source:Wall Street Journal



There are roughly 12 miles of water in the form of man-made waterfalls, creeks, and lakes.

Source: Hall & Hall



In 2014, Pickens married his fifth wife in a chapel on the premises. (The couple later divorced.)

Source:The Wall Street Journal



The front door of the lake house used to be situated on Bing Crosby's house. It's a metal door with stained glass.

Source: Hall & Hall



The Lake House has 3,800 square feet of patios and 11,500 square feet of living space.

Source: Hall & Hall



The ranch has its own FAA-approved airport. The hangar has a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment upstairs, which is meant to be for pilots.

Source: Hall & Hall



There is even a home theater that seats 30 people.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



All of the furnishings, farming equipment, pick-up trucks, and hunting gear are included in the purchase price.

Source: Hall & Hall



However, Pickens' personal art collection and other personal effects are not included in the purchase, according to the listing website.

Pickens reportedly owned pieces from artists N.C. Wyeth and Charles M. Russell, as well as an oil painting of his late dog, Papillon, that hangs in the master bedroom of the Lake House. 



The buyer will also get 40 bird dogs. Pickens was a seasoned quail hunter, but according to the Wall Street Journal, he planned to leave the dogs behind because he didn't have the space for them.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



The dogs can be housed in the 11,000-square-foot kennel on the property, which boasts a veterinary lab, an office, a meat-processing center, and an exercise area.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



There's also a single-story structure where ammunition, hunting gear, rifles, and shotguns are stored.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



T. Boone Pickens listed the property for $250 million back in 2017. However, according to a report by Mansion Global, on January 14, 2020, the price was cut by $30 million.

Source: Mansion Global



Here's what you need to know about Grimes, the Canadian singer dating Elon Musk who may have just confirmed she's pregnant (TSLA)

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Grimes

At the Met Gala in 2018, a surprising new couple showed up on the red carpet: billionaire tech CEO Elon Musk and Canadian musician and producer Grimes.

While Musk has long been known to date successful and high-profile women, the two made a seemingly unlikely pairing. Shortly before they walked the red carpet together, Page Six announced their relationship and explained how they met — over Twitter, thanks to a shared sense of humor and a fascination with artificial intelligence.

Since they made their relationship public in May 2018, the couple has continued to make headlines: Grimes for publicly defending Musk and speaking out about Tesla, and Musk for tweeting that he wants to take Tesla private, sparking an SEC investigation. But shortly after Musk's run-in with the SEC, Grimes and Musk unfollowed each other on social media, igniting rumors that the pair had broken up. 

However, the couple appeared to have reconnected soon after, and have been spotted out together. Grimes was in the car when Musk was spotted driving his new Cybertruck prototype around Los Angeles, and Musk made an appearance at the 2019 Game Awards to watch Grimes' performance at the event. 

Now, several social media posts from Grimes throughout January have sparked rumors that the singer is pregnant. The internet has since been speculating whether the father is Musk, and has produced a deluge of hilarious memes about the couple's unborn child.

For those who may be wondering who Grimes is and how she and Musk ended up together, here's what you need to know about the Canadian singer and producer.

SEE ALSO: A company that runs on 'structured chaos' is going viral and selling out products in minutes, from Jesus shoes to toaster-shaped bath bombs

Grimes — born as Claire Boucher — grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She attended a school that specialized in creative arts, but didn't focus on music until she started attending McGill University in Montreal.

Source: The Guardian, Fader



A friend persuaded Grimes to sing backing vocals for his band, and she found it incredibly easy to hit all the right notes. She had another friend show her how to use GarageBand and started recording music.

Source: The Guardian



Grimes has been described as an electronic-pop artist, whose music is "dark and ethereal, catchy and strange." In a 2019 profile, the Wall Street Journal described her music as "the kind of music you imagine a group of vampires would listen to if this group of vampires also happened to be on a cheerleading squad."

Source: Wall Street Journal



In 2010, Grimes released a cassette-only album called "Geidi Primes." She released her second album, "Halfaxa," later that year and subsequently went on tour with the Swedish singer Lykke Li. Eventually, she dropped out of McGill to focus on music.

Source: The Guardian, Fader



In 2012, Grimes signed to the British indie label 4AD and released "Visions," which would become a breakout success. Two years later, Pitchfork named "Oblivion" the best song of the decade so far.

Source: Pitchfork, The Guardian



Grimes signed with Jay-Z's management company, Roc Nation, in 2013.

Source: Fader



As she worked on the follow-up album to her widely acclaimed "Visions" album, Grimes considered a move to Billboard-charting pop music. She even wrote a song in 2014 for Rihanna, who ended up not putting the song on her album. Grimes released the song herself, but fans were upset she was "pandering to the radio."

Source: New York Times



Grimes released her fourth studio album, "Art Angels," in the fall of 2015. The single of the album, "Flesh Without Blood," features a character she created named Rococo Basilisk who is "doomed to be eternally tortured by an artificial intelligence, but she's also kind of like Marie Antoinette," she told Fuse.

Source: Business Insider, Fuse



Beyond singing, Grimes is a producer, and she's been vocal about how the music industry and media treat female artists. "The thing that I hate about the music industry is all of a sudden it's like, 'Grimes is a female musician' and 'Grimes has a girly voice,'" she told the Fader. "It's like, yeah, but I'm a producer, and I spend all day looking at f---ing graphs and EQs and doing really technical work."

Source: Fader



Grimes is also an avid gamer, and she has streamed herself playing the fantasy role-playing game "Bloodborne" on Twitch, the video-game-streaming platform. Her handle, "@Ocarina_of_Grimes," is a reference to the video game "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," released in 1998.

Check out her Twitch channel »

Source: Noisey



In May 2018, Grimes attended the Met Gala with Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. At the time, reports said they had been "quietly dating" for the past few weeks. Musk later told the Wall Street Journal that he loves Grimes for her "wild fae artistic creativity and hyper intense work ethic."

Source: Page Six, Wall Street Journal



Grimes and Musk met on Twitter. Musk was planning to make a joke about artificial intelligence — specifically, about the Rococo Basilisk character in her "Flesh Without Blood" video — and discovered she had beaten him to the punch.

Source: Page Six



Since then, Grimes has taken to Twitter several times to defend Musk and Tesla. In since-deleted tweets, Grimes said Musk has never tried to stop Tesla workers from unionizing, and claims to have encouraged a union vote among Tesla employees. In a 2019 interview, Grimes said she was "simply unprepared" for how much attention her tweets would get.

Source: Business Insider, Wall Street Journal



Grimes contributed her talents to a song on Janelle Monae's album, "Dirty Computer," released in April 2018. After initially teasing an album of her own for 2018, she said on Instagram that she wouldn't be releasing new music "any time soon" and alluded to a rift between her and her label, 4AD.

Source: Spin



In July 2018, Grimes wrote on Twitter that she and rapper Azealia Banks were collaborating on a song. A month later, Banks flew to Los Angeles to work on music with Grimes at one of Musk's properties, which was the beginning of a tumultuous story involving Banks, Grimes, and Musk.

Source: Business Insider



The day before Banks arrived in LA, Musk posted the now-infamous "funding secured" tweet about having enough money to take Tesla private. Banks said she overheard Musk "scrounging for investors" while at his house, and that Grimes and Musk essentially went into hiding as Tesla sought funding. Banks compared her stay to "a real life episode of 'Get Out,'" and said the couple got her to stay with the promise of collaborating on music.

Source: Business Insider



The relationship between Banks and Grimes devolved from there. Banks later shared with Business Insider a series of messages between the two singers, where Grimes states: "he got into weed cuz of me and he's super entertained by 420 so when he decided to take the stock private he calculated it was worth 419$ so he rounded up to 420 for a laugh and now the sec is investigating him for fraud."

Source: Business Insider



Musk deleted his Instagram and unfollowed Grimes on Twitter in August 2018, prompting rumors that the couple may have broken up.

Source: Business Insider



In September 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Musk on charges that he made "false and misleading statements" about taking Tesla private at $420 per share. As part of the filing, Musk said he chose that price-point because he thought his girlfriend, Grimes, "would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price." Musk later settled with the SEC.

Source: Business Insider



It seems that Grimes and Musk reconnected in October 2018: the couple was spotted at a pumpkin patch with Musk's five sons. It was the first time they were spotted in public together since the SEC investigation. Musk also re-followed Grimes on Twitter after a period of flip-flopping on his follow.

Source: Business Insider



Grimes kept a low profile following the "funding secured" scandal. In January 2019, she tweeted she was "randomly" in China on the same day Musk was there to launch Tesla's new factory project in Shanghai.

Source: Business Insider



Grimes returned to the public eye with a profile in the Wall Street Journal's magazine in March 2019. Grimes — who said she now prefers to go by the name "c" instead of her birth name, Claire — referred to Musk as "a super-interesting goddamn person."

Source: Wall Street Journal



In November, Musk unveiled Tesla's new battery-powered Cybertruck. The truck was unveiled by a mysterious "cybergirl" hologram, who many have speculated was actually Grimes (although that hasn't been confirmed). The hologram sported a leg tattoo that appears to match one Grimes has.

Source: Business Insider



Grimes' possible appearance as the Tesla "cybergirl" would be fitting, given the e-girl aesthetic that the alt-pop singer portrays. The "e-girl," popularized by teens in 2019, has become a term for the modern-day scene teens who sport a grungy vibe, love video games, and shirk the mainstream, manicured Instagram aesthetic.

Source: Business Insider



A month after the Cybertruck was unveiled, Musk was spotted driving his company's new prototype vehicle around Los Angeles. Grimes was spotted in the truck alongside Musk, who was seen in a video mowing down a traffic sign.

Source: The Cut, Business Insider



Grimes performed in December at the 2019 Game Awards, which celebrates the best of the video game industry. Grimes debuted a new song, called "4ÆM," and it was revealed her music — and voice, for a character named Lizzy Wizzy — would be featured in a not-yet-released video game called "Cyberpunk 2077." Musk made a surprising cameo in the audience to watch Grimes' performance, and even gave a short standing ovation at the end.

Source: Business Insider



The song she debuted at the Game Awards, "4ÆM," is from Grimes' upcoming album, called "Miss Anthropocene," which is scheduled for release in February 2020. Grimes has so far released three singles off the album, including "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth" and "Violence."

Source: Pitchfork



In early January, Grimes shared two photos on Instagram and Twitter that appear to show her pregnant, including one image with a fetus Photoshopped on her stomach. Internet users immediately began to speculate whether the father is Musk, and have already flooded Twitter with memes and jokes about the couple's baby. The couple has also fielded congratulations from various celebrities, including presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Source: Business Insider



Nonetheless, many are unsure what to make of Grimes' posts, since she is known for trolling on social media and she's currently working on another baby: her new album, which is scheduled to be released in February. Nonetheless, Grimes has continued to tease at a possible pregnancy: She recently launched social media accounts for War Nymph, a digital avatar resembling an infant that the singer said she's "been working on for over a year." It is not meant to represent her unborn child, she said, but is rather a "de-aged digital clone."

Instagram Embed:
//instagram.com/p/B7mgTLpFFB1/embed
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Source: Grimes on Twitter, Pitchfork



Although War Nymph's infant image has caused many to speculate the new social accounts are for her unborn child, Grimes has denied that on Twitter — while also seeming to confirm that she is pregnant. "Plz don't try to create controversy about my baby, whose privacy I plan on protecting," Grimes wrote in a tweet.

Source: Grimes on Twitter, Pitchfork



Tantrums, rude parents, and meal prepping: Take a look inside the 13-hour day of an elite nanny for the ultra-wealthy

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nanny with kids

  • Nannies who work for rich and powerful families often work 13-hour days filled with household chores and outlandish requests from parents.
  • Business Insider spoke with several nannies across the US to find out what kinds of things they've been asked to do on the job and what they wish their bosses knew.
  • One nanny, who Business Insider is keeping anonymous to protect their identity, noted that their responsibilities include far more than just shuttling the family's children to their afterschool activities. 
  • The nanny also said that diapers, tantrums, and long hours aren't the most difficult part of the job — it's the parents.
  • Business Insider is refraining from publishing the nanny's name or specific details about the family in order to protect her identity. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Being a nanny for an ultra-wealthy family may seem like a glamorous job — in reality, it's anything but.

The days are filled with household chores and outlandish requests from parents, one Durham, North Carolina-based elite nanny told Business Insider. She takes care of a four-year-old boy and his infant brother, having been hired by the family through an agency when the older child was born four years ago.

However, the perks and pay are unparalleled. Elite nannies can make up to $150,000 with full benefits, according to Katie Provinziano, the managing director of Los Angeles staffing agency Westside Nannies — but the costs are steep too. As a result, many elite nannies change careers after three to five years, Provinziano told Business Insider.

Keep reading to learn what life as an elite nanny is really like.

SEE ALSO: 7 nannies who work for the rich and powerful share one thing they wish their bosses knew — but would never tell them

DON'T MISS: Take a look inside the gala Marc Benioff hosted for USC, where the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed, James Corden emceed, and billionaires dined with Ashton Kutcher

5:15 a.m.: The nanny's alarm goes off.

She now has 45 minutes to get ready for her 13-hour day of caring for two children: a four-year-old and an infant.

The nanny told Business Insider she works Monday through Friday, about 60 hours a week. She's been with the family for four years.



6:00 a.m.: The nanny drives to the family's house in Durham, North Carolina.

When the nanny arrives, she lets herself in, as all of the family members are still asleep.

First, the nanny lets the family's dogs out and cooks breakfast before waking up the family's oldest son to get him ready for school.

That process is usually interrupted when the infant wakes up. The baby will immediately need a bottle and a diaper change.



7:45 a.m.: The parents and older child leave for the day, giving the nanny time to focus on chores.

The mother is a doctor and the father is the CEO of a local corporation, the nanny told Business Insider.

After they leave, the nanny then turns to household chores while keeping an eye on the baby. She uses the time to do the family's laundry, tidy up their house, cook lunch for that afternoon, and prepare a few extra meals to serve later in the week.

She also will take a break to play with the baby and take him for a short walk. Spending so much quality time with the kids is both the best and worst parts of the job, the nanny told Business Insider.



11:45 a.m.: She picks up the older child from school.

As soon as they return home, the boy eats the lunch the nanny prepared that morning.

"If lunch isn't ready by noon, all hell breaks loose," she told Business Insider. 

After lunch, they have some time to play before his swim lesson.



2:00 p.m.: The baby takes a nap and the older child has a swim lesson.

Both children are given baths afterward.

During this time, the nanny also finishes any chores leftover from the morning and begins cooking dinner for the family.



6:30 p.m.: The parents return home from work, and the nanny serves them dinner with the children.

After dinner, the nanny returns home to get some rest before doing it all again the next day. On occasion, she said she'll even spend the night with the kids if the parents are traveling.

The long hours, temper tantrums, and dirty diapers aren't the hardest part of her day, the nanny told Business Insider. Instead, it's dealing with the parents.

"The part I really hate is when the parents tell me something obvious to do," she said. "They always do it in a condescending way and it's like I haven't been taking care of their children from birth for four years."

But, despite the difficulties the job can come with, the nanny had a clear answer when asked about its positives, too.

"They can be the worst part sometimes, too, but there is nothing like loving and being loved by two amazing kids," she told BI. "They really are wonderful, sweet kids and I know that they view me as part of their family. I've been with them since the oldest was six months old so they really do know me as a concrete part of their life."



A Maryland gas station became the first EV charging station in the US that converted from selling oil — here's how it's doing

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RSA EV Charging Station 23

A gas station in Maryland has become the first in the US to switch its petroleum pumps out for electric vehicle chargers.

RS Automotives, a gas station in Takoma Park, Maryland, decided to make the switch after its owner Depeswar Doley decided he was unhappy with oil and gas contracts, CNBC reported

The gas station received a grant of $786,000 from the Maryland Energy Administration and the Electric Vehicle Institute for the project. 

"Maryland is proud to be a national leader when it comes to clean and renewable energy, climate change, and the promotion of electric infrastructure and vehicles," said Governor Larry Hogan in a statement. "This fully-converted, gas-to-electric charging station is a prime example of our administration's commitment to the environment and transportation."

There are over 20,700 registered electric vehicles in Maryland, as well as a local electric taxi service. However, prior to the opening of this new station in September 2019, there were only two public electric vehicle chargers in the area. Now, almost four months later, Doley states that he is "happy" and that "business is okay." 

"We're a few years ahead of the curve, so we didn't expect it to open and and [say] 'wow we're making tons of money.'" Doley told Business Insider. "It's a slow process, but we are happy with the numbers and we see somebody coming in and using the charger [everyday]."

Doley now receives calls from people around the country inquiring how to go about opening their own electric vehicle charging station.

"I am a business owner able to share my thoughts and ideas [about] how to open up an electric [charging station]," Doley said. "It's encouraging many people."

About four to five EV drivers stop by to charge at the station on a daily basis, which is in line with its original goal of achieving daily use, CEO of Electric Vehicle Institute Matthew Wade told Business Insider.

"It's a very unique project and we weren't quite sure what usage was going to look like [and] how it was going to operate," Wade said. "There were a lot of unknowns. [But] based upon the numbers we've been looking at, there's this kind of excitement that it's working.

Take a look at the construction process and the "refuelling" station now:

SEE ALSO: This 'self-charging' electric car has a dashboard filled with dead moss to clean the air

The station officially opened on September 26.



"Our state's energy programs are strategically advancing toward 100% clean electricity, which benefits all Marylanders and the environment," Maryland Energy Department director Mary Beth Tung said in a prepared statement.

Source: The Office of Governor Larry Hogan



Wade believes that EV charging stations — as opposed to gas stations — are a more profitable business for independent gas station owners because of the lack of variability in electricity pricing.



The station has four charging dispensers that are connected to a 200-kilowatt system, CNBC reported. This allows the cars to reach an 80% charge in 20 to 30 minutes.

Source: CNBC



An 80% charge will cost about $5.10, the Washington Post reported.

Source: Washington Post



The gas station is accompanied by an automated convenience store with complimentary coffee, water, and restrooms. It plans to use solar panels for energy.



There are also couches, chairs, televisions, and a screen displaying the charging progress for each dispenser.



"I was just talking to my wife about this stuff happening in Australia [and] you feel so helpless," Wade said. "Working on things like this, from a business perspective is fulfilling, but from the purpose of why we do it, it's better than the cup of coffee ... it gets me up and going to be able to do something."



The new filling stations are nine feet tall with LED lights, touch-screens and credit card slots, not unlike that of a typical gas pump.



Doley, pictured below, has owned the station since 1997, although RS Automotives has been around since 1958.



When he met with the Electric Vehicle Institute, they discussed adding a single charging point but decided to convert the entire station because he was losing money selling gas, according to the Fast Company.

Source: Fast Company



"That part of his business just wasn't working, and he wasn't happy with it," Wade told Fast Company.



"And we said, well, we have this great idea. What do you think about converting it to an all-electric charging station?" Wade continued.



Doley was also reportedly disgruntled with oil and gasoline contract structuring. This included limited use of multiple suppliers and maintenance support, and the inability to extend contracts if the minimum amount of sales weren't met, CNBC reported.

Source: CNBC



“My daughter, who is 17, she is the one who convinced me after I told her that I was going to talk to the [Electric Vehicle Institute] guys,” Doley told CNBC.



When Doley told his daughter Teresa about the potential idea to switch from fossil fuel to EV-charging, she reportedly responded by saying, “Dad, that’s a real good suggestion.”

"She's very passionate about Tesla and the environment, and we listened to her because she's the younger generation," Doley told the Washington Post.



The construction process included removing the underground storage tanks that held petroleum.



They also installed power lines to support the new high-power charging stations.



The station will no longer have the iconic electronic or flip sign that displays the fuel prices-per-grade.



RS Automotive's new chargers are a part of a network of over 600 charging stations in Maryland, according to the Maryland Energy Administration. The state has a goal of having 60,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020, and 300,000 by 2025.

Source: Maryland Energy Administration



"It's not something that I expect to become rich overnight or something like that, but it's a good cause [and] good for the environment," Doley told CNBC.

Source: CNBC



Wade hopes this charging station will inspire people to purchase their own electric vehicle and encourage station owners to "take the plunge" and incorporate at least one EV charging station at their location.



“Electric vehicle (EV) charging will be a gold rush, while gas stations will be just another relic of a bygone age, like phone booths and cassette tapes,” columnist Vitaliy Katsenelson wrote in a piece for MarketWatch.

Source: MarketWatch



Yo Gotti talks about his prison-reform efforts with Jay-Z, recent investment in an esports company, and his upcoming album 'for young hustlers'

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  • Roc Nation rapper Yo Gotti spoke to Business Insider last week about his upcoming album, "Untrapped," which is set for release on January 31, and his recent entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts. 
  • We discussed Gotti's coordination with Jay-Z to help more than a dozen Mississippi prisoners sue the state prison system over its conditions, and his various business investments, including in the esports company FaZe Clan. 

In the lead-up to the release of his 10th studio album, the rapper Yo Gotti has been active on several fronts outside of music. 

Earlier this month, Gotti and Team Roc, the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z's Roc Nation record label, helped more than a dozen inmates hire legal representation to file a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections over the conditions of its prisons. 

Five prisoners died violently in the state between late December and early this month, deaths which the lawsuit called the "culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect."

Gotti, whose real name is Mario Giden Mims, spoke to Business Insider at our Manhattan office last week about the lawsuit and his experiences of working with Jay-Z, his label boss at Roc Nation.  

We also talked at length about his upcoming album, "Untrapped," which is set to drop on January 31, and discussed the various business investments he's made recently, including in the esports company FaZe Clan, and in real estate and commercial efforts in his hometown of Memphis. 

Gotti has since announced his eighth annual "Birthday Bash" music event in Memphis, which is scheduled to take place at the FedEx Forum on June 19. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

John Lynch: I wanted to start out with the news of this week. How did the situation in Mississippi first come to your attention?

Yo Gotti: I first started seeing it from fans DM-ing me pictures on social media, and I was like, "What's this? What's going on?" Then I started seeing the headlines come out about it, seeing the pictures and everything that was going on. And I was like, "Yo, this is crazy."

Lynch: So you had the open letter about it with Team Roc. When did you decide, "we should take legal action on this," that's the way to move forward on it?

Gotti: The first day I seen the pictures, I started looking into it. Me being from Memphis, Mississippi is like our tri-state area. It's so close to home. Like it's several red lights in our city you can go through, and once you pass that red light, you're in Mississippi. So it's literally like our backyard. My whole career I grew up coming through that tri-state area. When we first got word of the news and started seeing the pictures, I knew we had to do something immediately. Got with Team Roc, the whole Roc Nation team, who feel just as passionate, and the situation is just as important to everybody over there, too, and we decided to take action.

Lynch: And you're in the room with Jay for these discussions. He's been increasingly using his voice to shine light on this type of stuff. What have you taken away from his approach to making change happen?

Gotti: I respect him because he stand up for what he believe in, which I think every man should. You know, things that's important to you, things you passionate about, you should fight for it.

Lynch: At the same time, you're having conversations with this billionaire mogul. What have you taken away from him about what moves to make in business?

Gotti: I mean, having a conversation with a hustler, you know what I'm saying? Which I think is one of the greatest talents anyone can have. The talent of hustle. Just to be in the room and to seek knowledge from him. And I'll be able to ask questions, whether it's in general questions or if it's more personal business questions, and get his intake on it. It's valuable as a friendship and a business relationship.

yo gotti

Lynch: You've made an investment in FaZe Clan, an esports company, as esports is rapidly growing. What drew you to that? Why esports, and that company in particular?

Gotti: Well, I think esports is like a big thing. It's only growing, and it's going to be an even bigger thing. And I think FaZe Clan is the best team. You know, I think they're the coolest team, the most cultural team. If you look, I think they got the coolest players, the most influence. Like if one of our FaZe Clan players was to tweet out, "I'mma be at this location," you have thousands of fans out there in seconds. It's the same influence as hip hop and musicians. They line up. So culturally, I just think FaZe Clan the best brand.

Lynch: Do you have any talent for video games? I'm trash at it personally.

Gotti:[Laughs]. I grew up playing the games, man, back when it was just Nintendos and Sega Genesis. They way more advanced nowadays, but that was a big thing. I remember when we couldn't afford to get the game. When all we wanted was the Sega Genesis, or something like that, for Christmas, you know what I'm saying? Just that one item. So to see how the whole gaming world has changed and everything. You know, I slide in my little son room from time to time, pick up the joystick, and see if I can give him a few rounds.

But I've actually been playing the games more, though, being involved with FaZe Clan. Actually being involved with FaZe Clan and the energy around them, being at the office and around the players, 'cause I'm actually cool with the players, like I'm in the community with them. This ain't just like a blind investment type thing. I really rock with the players and the brand hard, so I'm around, it's like a family. We go to games together, Rams games and, you know, be at the house, the mansion, chillin'.

Lynch: I know you have local investments in Memphis as well. How have you been looking at that?

Gotti: Yeah, real estate, commercial and residential, we're involved in. Whether it's flipping houses or fix some up and rent some out, to the restaurant business. We got so many things going on. I'm just hustling, man.

yo gotti

Lynch: "Pose," man. Judging by the cars driving in Brooklyn by apartment, it seems like it's moving. How have you seen that move as a single?

Gotti: Yeah, I like it. I like "Pose" a lot. I'm gearing up to drop an album, which "Pose" will be on there. "Put a Date" will be on there. Lot of more bangers.

Lynch: I mean, 10 albums in, right?

Gotti: That many?

Lynch: I think [laughs]. That's what I counted. 10 studio.

Gotti: I would have thought more. I don't know. I can't even keep count, man.

Lynch: How has your approach changed to the buildup to that, the release of a project?

Gotti: Well, the game changed a little bit with the process of how you put an album out. Like I said, "I'm going to drop an album this month," right? And I can not know the date today, and it could literally come out this month, and it's going to come out this month. That's how the game changed. Years ago, you couldn't do that. You needed three, four months ahead of time just to roll it, just to put the album out.

Lynch: Does that affect your creative process at all?

Gotti: Nah. Actually, it gives you more time on it, you know what I'm saying. You could be in the studio longer into the last minute, adding or changing, if that's what you want to do.

Lynch: What about your approach personally? Are you coming in with 40 songs? Narrowing it down to say, "I want these"?

Gotti: 50.

Lynch: 50?

Gotti: 50 to 60. That's always the hardest part of my albums, 'cause I record so many songs, and I don't record in albums cycles. Some people take off recording cycles, but I record year round. I believe that like, as a hustler, you know, how I'm a musician with no music? You get what I'm saying? Ain't no off days. I don't take off on no businesses I do. So I'm in the studio all the time, with so many records, and I guess it's a good problem when it come down to it. You're trying to just pick like what's the 12 or 14 best out of 60. But it's a hard decision.

Lynch: What did you bring to this album that's different from what you've wanted to put out before?

Gotti: I think my messaging in this album is going to be very strong. The space I'm in today, the space I've been in in the last six to eight months, the things I'm talking about on the album. I just think it's gonna be a strong message, really, for young hustlers. You're a young hustler, you're a young boss, this album really for you. Or you want to be a boss one day, this the project that's for you.

SEE ALSO: Meek Mill, Michael Rubin, and the Reform Alliance hosted a holiday shopping spree and VIP trip to a New England Patriots game for families adversely affected by the US probation system

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San Francisco has 16 gyms and wellness facilities per square mile — more than any other US city. It shows where millennials spend their money.

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equinox san francisco gym

San Franciscans sure love their gyms.

The California city has more than 16 gyms and other wellness businesses per square mile, according to the 2020 Wellness Index released by Mindbody, a wellness technology platform. 

Mindbody surveyed 20,000 adults in the 50 most populous US cities on their fitness and wellness habits, and also looked at data from the US Census and business listing services. The report ranked San Francisco the third-healthiest city in the US, largely thanks to its residents' dedication to wellness businesses, which encompasses gyms and fitness studios, salons, spas, and integrative health businesses. 

In addition to its whopping 16.2 wellness businesses per square mile, San Francisco has the highest percentage of people who frequent multiple types of these businesses of any top 50 city, according to the report.

The luxury gym chain Equinox has four locations in the City by the Bay. There are countless yoga studios, four Barry's Bootcamps, three SoulCycle studios, three OrangeTheory Fitness centers, six Fitness SF locations — the list goes on. San Franciscans love dance fitness in particular, with more than 27% of residents attending classes like Pound or Zumba, according to Mindbody's report.

Zumba Class

San Francisco also has plenty of wellness-oriented businesses such as The Assembly, a women's wellness club where members pay $2,700 a year to work, socialize, and get Reiki healings in a century-old church.

But while its gyms and other wellness facilities thrive, many of San Francisco's traditional retailers are closing up shop as more and more people choose to shop online.

"It's really representative of a cultural shift," Matt Holmes, principal of brokerage Retail West, which works with fitness tenants, told The San Francisco Chronicle last year. "The millennials, for all their disdain for regular retail, they all go eat and work out like crazy. It's all about community."

Indeed, millennials have been called "the wellness generation," and they don't hesitate to shell out on pricey gym memberships and boutique fitness classes, Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower reported.

wellness

And fitness brands are becoming increasingly entrenched in every aspect of their customers' lives, as Business Insider's Bethany Biron recently reported. Indoor cycling company SoulCycle has started offering wellness retreats, and luxury gym Equinox is expanding into travel with $6,000 hiking trips to Morocco and a $2,000 running trip through Italy.

"These fitness brands have become a gathering place — both a community gathering place and a social gathering place," Josh Ginsberg, CEO and co-founder of Zignal Labs, told Biron.

Hanging out at these gathering places doesn't come cheap. An Equinox membership in San Francisco starts at $240 a month, and a single SoulCycle class is $35.

But many San Francisco residents can afford pricey fitness classes and memberships. The Bay Area is home to more wealthy people than any other of the most populous metro areas in the US, according to the US Census. The median household income in San Francisco is $107,898 — about 74% more than the national median household income of $61,937.

And many of these affluent individuals are relatively young. About half of all millennial millionaires live in California.

As long as its wealthy residents keep shunning brick-and-mortar retail but shelling out on boutique fitness classes and luxury gym memberships, it looks like more and more of San Francisco's storefronts may turn into luxury gyms.

SEE ALSO: The 10 healthiest cities to live in the US in 2020, where people work out regularly, prioritize self-care, and get a full night's sleep

DON'T MISS: 13 mind-blowing facts that show just how expensive San Francisco really is

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Some YouTube content moderators are reportedly being told they could be fired if they don't sign 'voluntary' statements acknowledging their jobs could give them PTSD

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YouTube

  • Some YouTube content moderators are being forced to sign documents that acknowledge their jobs could lead to PTSD and negatively impact their mental health, according to a new report in The Verge.
  • These employees work out of a site in Austin, Texas, operated by Accenture, one of the companies that hires contract workers to review content for big networks like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • It's possible these documents are a step Accenture is taking to absolve itself from legal blame as more content moderators come forward with lawsuits alleging their jobs directly led to PTSD symptoms.
  • There's a sordid, well-documented history of content moderators reviewing graphic and disturbing imagery —  jobs that have taken tolls on their mental health and led to psychological trauma. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some YouTube moderators are reportedly being told they could lose their jobs if they don't sign a document acknowledging that these jobs — which often involve often gruesome and disturbing content — could lead to PTSD and serious mental health problems.

The Verge reports that content moderators based in Austin, Texas, were given statements to sign about the impact of their jobs on their personal well-being. The document was distributed to employees only days after a report in The Verge shared that several content moderators at that location were struggling with PTSD and psychological drama as a result of their jobs.

The document may be one of the most stark acknowledgments so far of the effects of content moderation on workers' mental health. However, it also raises concerns about whether the document is meant to shift the onus and responsibility of dealing with employee mental health to individuals, rather than the company.

"It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," the document says, according to the Verge. "I will tell my supervisor/or my HR People Adviser if I believe that the work is negatively affecting my mental health."

The moderators in the Verge article are actually employees of Accenture, one of the several companies that hires contract workers to review content on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other tech companies at off-site locations. There are large content moderation sites in US cities like Phoenix, Arizona and Tampa, Florida, as well as internationally in India, the Philippines, and Dublin.

Over the last several years, reports and accounts have increasingly come out of these sites documenting the gruesome and disturbing content these workers are tasked with reviewing, including beheadings, bestiality, and suicides. Other news stories have shed light on the horrible conditions these contract employees function under at these off-site moderation locations, where they earn minimal pay and get few opportunities for reprieve from their emotional jobs.

Furthermore, some content moderators have spoken out about the symptoms of psychological trauma they have ad a result of their jobs. A Verge report in February detailed stories of employees coping by telling dark jokes about suicide, having sex with coworkers at the office, and smoking weed during the day. Others have shared stories of getting diagnosed with PTSD, and their employers' inability to manage their mental health.

Some former content moderators have taken to suing these contracting companies, as well as the big tech firms they moderated for, over the psychological trauma they suffered as a result of their jobs.

It's unclear whether the document Accenture is giving to content moderators is a move to shift the responsibility of mental health care onto individual employees, and thus absolve the company in the face of increasing lawsuits from former moderators.

"I understand how important it is to monitor my own mental health, particularly since my psychological symptoms are primarily only apparent to me," the document reportedly says. "Strict adherence to all the requirements in this document is mandatory ... Failure to meet the requirements would amount to serious misconduct and for Accenture employees may warrant disciplinary action up to and including termination."

Accenture did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. The company told The Verge that the document was voluntary. However, two employees told The Verge they were threatened with being fired if they didn't sign.

In a statement to Business Insider, YouTube said it had no role in directing Accenture to distribute the document, and defended Google's use of outside companies for hiring content moderators.

"Moderators do vital and necessary work to keep digital platforms safer for everyone," the YouTube spokesperson said. "We choose the companies we partner with carefully and require them to provide comprehensive resources to support moderators' wellbeing and mental health." 

Read The Verge's full report here.

SEE ALSO: A company that runs on 'structured chaos' is going viral and selling out products in minutes, from Jesus shoes to toaster-shaped bath bombs

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NOW WATCH: How autopilot on an airplane works

I collect pricey antique rugs, but when it comes to finding well-priced area rugs for my apartment, here's where I shop

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bedroom

  • I consider myself to be mildly obsessed with rugs. I collect antique ones, but I prefer to layer them over more modern, neutral ones to help ground my space.
  • RugsUSA is my go-to place for affordable rugs that aren't vintage. However, the site is huge, and can be a little difficult to navigate.
  • Below, I'll walk you through my tips for sorting through the RugsUSA website, and show you how I styled some of its rugs in my own apartment.

 

I love rugs. I love them enough that my partner is probably considering getting the phrase "No more rugs!" tattooed on her face. I keep buying them anyway.

We moved into a new apartment in February, which gave me a perfect opportunity to acquire more rugs (oops, but not really) — and to switch them from room to room one hundred times before I got it right.

Pretty much all of the antique rugs in our apartment have come from small hole-in-the-wall shops in Brooklyn, but all the base layers have come from RugsUSA, a purveyor of what seems like one million styles, sizes, and shapes of rugs.

I'm more inclined to spend serious money on a unique antique rug than a brand-new one, so I turn to RugsUSA for the more affordable (sometimes downright cheap) base layers that help to ground a room. Of course, you can also find bold and eclectic styles there, but I personally lean toward simplicity when ordering online.

I recently got two rugs for our new apartment from RugsUSA; the Chunky Loop Maui area rug in off-white for our bedroom, and the Monochrome Texture Dunescape rug for our office. Both are textured, neutral rugs that make great base layers in any room, and neither one was priced over $350; the cheaper of the two was under $200 — pretty good for a roughly 8-by-10-foot size if you ask me. Not to mention that they both look way more expensive than they really are.

IMG_3699

How to efficiently sift through the tens of thousands of options

The overall shopping experience of sorting through styles at RugsUSA is made a lot less overwhelming by all of its clever filters. You can select everything from shape to size to color to material to patterns, and can even filter by best-selling rugs, ones with videos, and plenty of other features. Since there are tens of thousands of options on the site, you'll do well to apply as many filters as you can.

I found that searching terms like "textured white rugs" and "woven white rugs" yielded relevant results, and then I used additional filters from there to narrow down my choice. Just don't let the enormous number of rugs paralyze you! It's easy to get overwhelmed, but the more distinct a vision you have for your space, the easier it'll be to pinpoint the right rug for you. The surprisingly large numbers of customer reviews also help.

Even if you don't know exactly what you like, the site has really nicely staged lifestyle photos that let you see the rugs in an actual home setting, so you can envision what it'll look like in your space a little better.

bedroom rugs

How have the rugs I've tried held up?

As far as the rugs I chose go, I have some advice. If you have a pet who likes to chew things or a robot vacuum, a rug with chunky fringe probably isn't your best bet. I should have considered this when ordering since I have both of those things, but I just loved the look of the Chunky Loop Maui rug so much that I risked it. And while it does, in fact, look great in our bedroom, it also traps a lot of dust underneath since the weave is loose enough for small particles to fall through. It's also worth noting that the fringe has unraveled a bit because of the vacuum.

If you're willing to put in a little extra time to clean under the rug every once in a while, I think the Chunky Loop Maui rug is worth it simply for how gorgeous it is. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, and it's the perfect base layer for enclosed rooms like bedrooms or large open areas like dining rooms that could use a big rug to ground the space.

Home office

As for the rug we put in our office, it has held up beautifully over time. It gets a ton of traffic since we have to walk through that room to get to the balcony, and it still looks brand new. There's only one size left of this particular rug, but I would recommend looking for other rugs specifically made by RugsUSA (over the third-party brands it carries) that are made with wool. I have a feeling that it's the durability of the materials that has kept it looking so nice all this time.

The bottom line

If you want to know whether or not RugsUSA is a solid place to shop for nice rugs that don't look cheap, the answer is that yes, it is. The rugs are great quality for the price, the sales are plentiful (never pay full price!), and the options are endless.

However, it's understandable that you may be skeptical of the quality when the site offers approximately one million styles. If that's the case for you, know this: I'm exceptionally snobby about rugs (thanks, Dad), and I feel confident that this is where I'll continue buying my non-antique rugs for as long as my partner doesn't kill me. As long as you go in with a general vision for the type of rug you want, you'll have an easy time sifting through options.

 

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The best hair dryers

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  • With so many different hair dryers to choose from, it's hard to know which ones won't lead to dried out hair, sore muscles, and buyer's remorse.
  • The Rusk CTC Lite is our top pick because it dries hair quickly without damaging it while still being lightweight and easy to hold. It also has seven different heat and speed settings to ensure that your hair looks like it's in a commercial.
  • If you're looking for further styling tools, check out our guides to the best hair straighteners and the best curling irons.

No matter how many curling wands or straighteners you have in your arsenal, you need to have a quality blow dryer in the mix as well. It dries hair quickly, can tamp down frizz better than any styling product, and depending on your dexterity, can also help straighten or curl your hair.

However, finding a good hair dryer can be easier said than done — especially with all the beauty buzzwords surrounding it. If you're searching for a new hair dryer, you're likely running into words like "ionic," "infrared," and "tourmaline," and you may be wondering if you're participating in a scientific discovery rather than finding a simple beauty tool that'll just dry your hair in a few minutes.

Before you throw up your hands in frustration, we've picked out five of our favorite hair dryers so you don't have to worry about making the wrong choice. We've also broken down some terms that are helpful to know along with all the things you should really be looking for in a hair dryer that go beyond the buzzwords on the packaging. 

Hair dryer terminology

You'll come across a lot of different words when it comes to the marketing of a hair dryer. The trick is to know which ones are legit, which are marketing buzzwords, and which are up for debate when it comes to effective hair styling.

An ionic hair dryer shoots out negative ions that break up the positive ions in water more quickly, preventing frizz and speeding up drying time. Tourmaline is a semi-precious mineral that produces negative ions when heated. It's normally used to coat the interior of a hair dryer barrel or grills. This one is potentially tricky — Wirecutter found little difference in their tester's hair when testing hair dryers that claimed to be "ionic." However, some hair stylists swear by this feature, saying that an ionic dryer does reduce frizz and even makes the hair shinier. 

If a hair dryer is called "infrared," it means that it uses long energy wavelengths to penetrate the hair deeply, making for a faster drying time compared to non-infared dryers. Similarly, ceramic and porcelain dryers are designed to do the same, but these materials can also result in more even heating for a more consistent temperature to protect your hair from damage.

And what about fancy terms like "conditioning beads" and "silk proteins" that claim to be housed in the barrel of some dryers? Some things really are too good to be true. The more outrageous the terms, the more likely they are to be marketing hype. 

The features that matter

blowdrying hair

All the marketing mumbo jumbo aside, there are features that you'll want in a hair dryer, especially if you plan on using it often.

  • Design and weight: You want a dryer that's comfortable to hold, avoiding awkwardly placed buttons if possible. A lightweight dryer is best — especially if you have thick hair that may take a little more time to dry. No one wants to feel like they've just gotten done with a strength training routine after blow drying their hair.
  • Multiple speed and heat settings: These are a must because they'll give you more control over the style of your hair as well as help to protect your hair from heat damage (though you should definitely use a heat protectant every time you use a heat tool). While not a necessity, a hair dryer that also has a cool air feature is a plus, as it helps seal your hair cuticle once your hair is dry, giving your desired style a smooth finish.
  • High wattage: A higher wattage motor will have more power and can cut down on the time that you're exposing your hair to heat, which can be damaging over time. That being said, most hair dryers hover around 1,875 watts, so this is a good ballpark number.
  • Cord length: To power up your hair dryer, a longer cord length anywhere from 6 to 9 feet is is ideal. You want it to be able to reach from the outlet to wherever you dry your hair whether it's in your bathroom or in front of your vanity. A cord that's too short will restrict your movement, and it's even worse if the cord isn't long enough to reach where you're standing.
  • Attachments: Hair dryers that come with extras like a concentrator attachment or a diffuser are especially useful for achieving different looks and styles.
  • Warranty: As with any product that you're paying a little more for, a hair dryer with a good warranty will provide you with peace of mind that if something breaks. The manufacturer will be able to fix the issue, or if the brand is really nice, even replace lost or broken attachments. Once you find your favorite hair dryer, you'll definitely want to be able to use it for as long as possible.

The stress of finding the right hair dryer may make the price of beauty seem like a real beast, but not to worry — we've done the research for you. After combing through tons of reviews, we've found five notable hair dryers that stand apart from the rest, so you can choose the hair dryer that best fits your needs and budget.

Here are the best hair dryers:

Prices and links are current as of 1/24/2020.

The best hair dryer overall

The Rusk CTC Lite is a lightweight hair dryer that works on all hair types and dries quickly, leaving you with salon-quality results.

If you want to save money with a salon-quality blowout at home, or you just want an all-around reliable hair dryer to get the job done, the Rusk CTC Lite is for you.

It can tackle all different hair types. It especially excels at drying thick hair quickly, and its titanium and ceramic coating allows for even heating, drastically cutting down on drying time. If you consider yourself a bit of a control freak, you'll definitely appreciate the seven different heat and speed settings.

Having multiple settings not only gives you control over how you want to style your hair, but you can also choose how much heat you're using. Using the lower settings can help prevent heat damage, especially if you use your hair dryer often. The hair dryer also comes with a diffuser, which is great for drying curly hair, and a concentrator if you're going for a super sleek look.

At 1,900 watts, this hair dryer packs a lot of power. If you have short hair or fine hair that dries quickly, you may want to lower both the heat and speed settings.

The handle is extremely comfortable, but button placement may be slightly awkward if you're switching settings — it's actually possible to accidentally turn off the dryer while you're using it. If you're used to a different button configuration, it may take some getting used to.

Wirecutter put the Rusk CTC Lite to the test and especially appreciated the thought that was put into its design. Out of all the hair dryers the reviewer tested, the Rusk CTC Lite had one of the most comfortable handles. Its comfortable design and light weight are important features too, especially in an appliance that you'll be using often.

Pros: Lightweight, long cord length, ergonomically designed for comfort, seven heat and speed settings, fast drying time, comes with additional attachments

Cons: May be too powerful for short hair, slightly awkward button placement



The best affordable hair dryer

The Remington D3190 Damage Protection Hair Dryer may be cheap, but it boasts a ton of features, including a high-end ceramic and tourmaline interior.

While there are many cheap hair dryers out there that are likely to break long before their more expensive salon-quality counterparts, there's a sector of hair dryers that'll give you a decent blowout without sucking your bank account dry. The Remington D3190 is one of those excellent budget hair dryers.

It has a decent amount of power at 1,875 watts, which is nearly as high as our top pick. The ceramic coating on its grill allows for more efficient heating, so your hair will dry quicker and won't have to be exposed to heat for long. It also has a negative ion design, which helps reduce frizz. While the true effectiveness of negative ions in a hair dryer is debatable, many users have noticed less frizz since they've started using it.

Aside from the damage control features, it also comes with a diffuser attachment for curly or wavy hair textures, as well as a concentrator if you want a straight style. Additionally, the cool shot feature will help seal your style in place after your hair is dried, and the filter is removable for easy cleaning.

Even though the dryer is super affordable, it also comes with a two-year warranty. But because it is a lower price, there are some noticeable differences between this hair dryer and some of the more expensive ones that are available. The cord is on the shorter side at about five feet long. There are also fewer heat and speed settings than you might find on a more expensive hair dryer.

Pros: Infused with ceramic for even heating, reduces frizz, quick drying, comes with diffuser and concentrator attachments, many features for the low price

Cons: Shorter cord, limited heat and speed settings



The best for thick hair

The Panasonic Nanoe Hair Dryer uses a unique technology to keep more moisture in your hair, reducing heat damage and frizz.

While it may look like a strange weapon from a bad sci-fi movie, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer shouldn't be overlooked — especially if you have thick hair that seems to take eons to dry.

"Nanoe" refers to the technology that lets the dryer take moisture in the air and turn it into particles small enough to penetrate the shaft of your hair. These particles prevent your hair from drying out and help prevent the heat damage that many hair dryers can cause.

High-tech features aside, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer comes with plenty of other perks that make it worth the price. It comes with three different nozzle attachments — one for quick drying, a concentrator for precision styling, and a diffuser for curly and wavy hair. It also has a removable filter for easy cleaning and a cool-shot button to set your style.

While it doesn't have as many settings as other higher-end hair dryers, it still gives you some control with three heat settings and two different speed settings. While it's great for drying thick hair quickly, those with fine hair also liked this dryer, appreciating the volume and shine it added.

At a little over one pound, it's slightly heavier than some of the lighter weight hair dryers out there. However, its efficient drying time means you won't have to be holding it for long.

Its long nine-foot rotating cord also ensures that it will reach wherever you need it to and it won't get tangled. At 1,875 watts, you won't be lacking for power, and the two-year warranty is also a plus.

If you don't mind a little futuristic-looking addition to the rest of your bathroom appliances, the Panasonic Nanoe hair dryer is a worthy purchase for anyone blessed with a thick mane of hair.

Pros: Moisture-infusing technology, fast-drying, tames frizz and adds shine, comes with three nozzle attachments, long cord length

Cons: Awkwardly shaped, on the heavier side, not as many heat or speed settings as higher-end hair dryers



The best for fine hair

With six different heat and speed settings, and infrared heat provided by ceramic coils, the BaBylissPRO Porcelain Ceramic Carrera2 Dryer reduces heat damage and pumps up thin hair. 

The BaByliss name is well-known in the world of professional hair stylists, but compared to many professional hair dryers, it's still affordable for most.

Despite its popularity at salons, there's no beauty school needed to learn how to use the BaBylissPRO Porcelain Ceramic Carrera2 Dryer in the comfort of your own home. This model features a soft-touch rubberized housing for maximum grip, as well as a super long 10-foot cord so you can dry your hair with ease.

While it works well on thick hair, this hair dryer is especially great if you have fine hair that is prone to damage. The infrared technology and ceramic interior make for efficient and even heating, so you won't have to expose your hair to heat for a long time to get a sleek, frizz-free style. The Carerra2 also utilizes negative ion technology with some reviewers saying that their hair did seem to have less static and frizz after switching to this hair dryer.

The Ceramic Carerra2 comes with a concentrator attachment for precision styling, as well as a cool-shot button to set your style. It also has a lengthy three-year warranty. Some users have had trouble with the concentrator attachment coming off too easily, which can be annoying and dangerous if it pops off during styling.

This is a 1,900-watt professional hair dryer that packs a lot of power, and as a result, the nozzle can become hot to the touch very quickly, so use caution if you are utilizing the highest heat setting.

Between the ceramic and infrared technologies, it doesn't come as a surprise that this hair dryer one of the least damaging hair dryers. If you have fine hair — especially straight fine hair — you're likely familiar with the daily battle of trying to give your hair a little extra "oomph" in the volume department. Think of the Ceramic Carrera2 as an ally that will have bad hair days waving the white flag of surrender.

Pros: Ceramic and infrared technology for even and efficient heating, multiple heat and speed settings, long cord length, three-year warranty

Cons: Concentrator attachment comes off easily, the nozzle of the hair dryer can become very hot



The best high-tech hair dryer

It may be pricey, but if you're looking for a high-tech hair dryer that actually lives up to the hype, the Dyson Supersonic may be for you.

It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that Dyson — the company best known for its vacuum cleaners — has come close to creating the perfect hair dryer. The price is steep, and there are plenty of hair dryers out there that are effective enough for a fraction of the price, but it's worth taking a step back and admiring all the thought and engineering that went into the creation of the Dyson Supersonic.

For starters, you won't be in danger of exposing your locks to any heat damage. While you're drying your hair, there's a lot taking place inside this futuristic-looking styling tool. The air temperature is measured 20 times every second to keep the temperature under control, and the high-velocity airflow also makes it possible to dry your hair in a fraction of the time.

Gizmodo put the Dyson Supersonic to the test to see if it was worth the money. The tester was impressed not only with how quickly their hair dried but also with how quiet the hair dryer was, thanks to the motor being housed in the noise-silencing handle.

With more weight in the handle, the hair dryer becomes less top-heavy and more ergonomic, so there won't be any more aching arms as you're drying your hair. In addition to the high-tech specs, the Dyson Supersonic has four heat settings and three airflow settings.

It also comes with three different attachments — a smoothing nozzle, concentrator, and diffuser. There's no danger of any attachments falling off as these attachments connect magnetically and the connection is quite powerful. For the high price, it would be a major miss if this hair dryer lacked a long cord or a cool-shot button, but luckily it has both, along with a two-year warranty.

Pros: Dries hair quickly, light weight, quiet, comes with three attachments, long cord length, good warranty

Cons: High price point



Check out our other hair-care buying guides

The best hair straightener

If you want to achieve sleek, pin-straight hair, a high-quality hair straightener should be in your beauty arsenal. A hair straightener, also known as a flat iron, smooths the follicle of your hair between two heated plates. These are the best you can buy.


The best curling irons

Out of all the heat styling tools you can use on your hair, the curling iron is the one that requires the most practice, particularly to see what type of curl and look you like. However, the results you can achieve are just as reliant upon the type of curling iron you choose. Whether you have fine hair, thick hair, or something that falls in-between, these are the best curling irons.


The best heat protectant sprays

If you use any type of heat styling tool on your hair — whether it's a hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener — a heat protectant is a must-have. Without a properly applied protectant, the heat will dry out your hair, making it brittle and prone to breakage. These are the best heat protectant sprays.


The best anti-frizz products

It's not just the summer heat and sky-high humidity that can wreak havoc on your hair. Rain and damp weather can turn it from smooth to frizzy in an instant. It's important to be prepared and have a good anti-frizz product in your beauty arsenal to prevent bad hair days. These are our top picks.


The best straightening brushes

There's a new type of styling tool in town — the straightening brush. These handy styling tools provide a quick, easy, and effective way to get smooth, shiny hair with professional-looking results. These are the best straightening brushes.



The 7-bedroom mansion made famous by HBO's 'Entourage' just sold for $5.32 million — here's a look inside the Tuscan-style estate

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Entourage Mansion Encino

  • The Encino mansion known for being the fictional home of Adrian Grenier's character Vincent Chase on the hit HBO show "Entourage" has sold for $5.32 million. 
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the 9,300-square-foot home was owned by Jonathan Littman, an Emmy-winning producer who has worked on "The Amazing Race" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." 
  • Littman bought the home in 2011 for $4.2 million, the the LA Times reported. He put it on the market in November 2019 for $5.5 million. 
  • People reports that the home has been sold for slightly below the asking price, though the buyer has yet to be disclosed. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

TV fans will surely recognize this property listing: The fictional home of Adrian Grenier's character from HBO's "Entourage" has finally sold for $5.32 million, People reports. It was listed by owner Johnathan Littman in November 2019 for $5.499 million, the Los Angeles Times reported

The home is located in Encino, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, and is roughly 9,300 square feet. It has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, with a sun room, a wine cellar, a theater room, and a master wing. 

Littman is an Emmy-winning producer, best known for his work on "The Amazing Race" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Littman initially bought the home in 2011 for $4.2 million.

The listing was held by Jill Krutchik of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

Here's a look inside the famous residence.

SEE ALSO: Kanye West just splashed out nearly $15 million on another massive ranch in Wyoming. Here's a peek inside.

DON'T MISS: This $12 million 'mansion yacht' is made entirely of stainless steel — and it's a first for the industry. Take a peek inside.

This Italian-style mansion is best known for being the fictional home of Adrian Grenier's character on the hit HBO show "Entourage," which ran for eight seasons from 2004 until 2011.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



It is located in Encino, a wealthy and popular neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



According to the Los Angeles Times, the home is 9,300 square feet and features a 22-foot ceiling.

Source:Los Angeles Times



It has numerous "bonus" rooms, including a sun room, a wet bar, a wine cellar ...

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



... and a spacious home theater room.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



There's also a simplistic yet chic laundry room.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



In addition, there is a library.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



The massive home has seven bathrooms and 10 bedrooms ...

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



... many of which echo the home's Tuscan architectural style.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



A home office is located in the "master wing" of the home.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



In addition to indoor dining areas, there's an outdoor eating space.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



The home's exterior also features a massive pool, a spa, and a fire pit for plenty of outdoor entertaining options.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times



According to People, the home reportedly just sold for $5.32 million.

Source: Zillow, Los Angeles Times, People



The best bread machines

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  • Making bread isn't just for master bakers when you have a bread machine. 
  • The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is the best bread machine you can buy to make delicious bread at home.
  • It has 13 pre-programmed settings, handles gluten-free recipes, and features a heated lid to help with even baking.

As a work-from-home dad, I try not to buy items from the store that I can make at home. And, since the overpriced bread at the supermarket is packed full of ingredients nobody can pronounce, I was naturally attracted to the fun challenge of baking healthy homemade bread.

With my trusty KitchenAid serving as a competent sous chef, I cut my teeth in the baking world with from-scratch bread. Eventually, the weekly bread dough kneading took its toll on the mixer. And, the demands of parenting and work made my old-fashioned methods inconvenient. In order to meet the high bread standards my family had come to expect (along with the delicious odors making bread produces), I turned to a bread machine.

With the most basic bread makers, you spend five to ten minutes loading the machine with ingredients (most machines come with plenty of recipes), you press a few buttons, and away it goes. You simply wait anywhere from one to four hours for the beeping to let you know it's done.

Appliance makers keep adding features that make these machines the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread —although I'm still waiting for an automatic slicing feature. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, here are some features to consider:

  • Automatic dispensers– Some models have automatic dispensers for yeast or fruits and nuts. The fruit and nut option is helpful because you generally want to add these ingredients later in the process, which then adds another time-sensitive step. With the dispenser, you set everything up and go about your day.
  • Pre-programmed settings – All of the bread machines in our guide have at least ten pre-programmed settings along with three crust shade alternatives (light, medium, and dark). Some common settings include whole wheat bread, sourdough bread, gluten-free, pizza dough, and jam.
  • Quick baking – Many machines offer a quick baking alternative. With this feature, you can have a baked loaf in as little as an hour from start to finish. However, the quality of the bread suffers.
  • Collapsible paddle/blade – Machine-made bread loaves usually have a hole in the base where the kneading blade sat during the baking process. Some manufacturers have remedied this problem by introducing collapsible paddles. Of course, if you don't mind babysitting your machine, you can remove the blade by hand right before the baking phase.

We combed through hundreds of reviews and ratings from home bakers and experts alike as we searched for the best bread machines. The units we chose to include in this guide can make a variety of different bread types, require minimal user oversight, and have a track record of dependability and performance.

Here are the best bread machines:

Prices and links are current as of 1/24/2020. 

SEE ALSO: The best stand mixers you can buy

The best bread machine overall

If you don't mind spending a little extra for a versatile top-of-the-line bread machine, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is your best option.

What sets the Zojirushi Virtuoso apart from other bread makers is that it has two blades for kneading bread and features a heated lid for the even baking of loaves. This unit makes 2-pound traditional rectangular loaves in the inner cooking pan. The bread is positioned horizontally in the machine, whereas most have a vertical alignment. Zojirushi backs this product with a one-year warranty.

There are 10 pre-programmed settings with the bread machine: homemade, sourdough starter, cake, jam, quick dough, quick wheat, quick (prepares bread in about two hours), basic dough, basic wheat, and basic. There are also three crust shades: dark, medium, and light. Lastly, you can choose to delay the baking cycle for up to 13 hours.

The Zojirushi bread maker was runner-up in Bread Machine Pros' in-depth look at the best makers. The reviewers were impressed with how it handled gluten-free recipes and how the heater on the lid browns bread evenly on top. However, it lost points because it doesn't have a yeast or fruit and nut dispenser.

Village Bakery recommends this bread machine because it meets the dietary restrictions of just about anyone, including those who can't tolerate gluten. The reviewers also liked the dual kneading blades, but they would have preferred it if the machine was also able to make smaller loaves.

Pros: Excellent for gluten-free recipes, heater in lid, dual kneading paddles

Cons: Expensive, limited loaf-size options



The best budget bread machine

If you are looking for a cost-effective, no-nonsense bread machine for making fast, healthy loaves, the Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Maker is a smart solution.

Though the name suggests otherwise, the Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Maker can make loaves in a variety of sizes, including 1-pound and 1.5-pound sizes. There are 12 bread settings, including the Expressbake cycle, which makes a 2-pound loaf of bread in less than an hour.

You can choose from three crust settings, and the 13-hour programmable delay baking timer allows you to wake to the smell of fresh bread. This machine comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Heavy liked the many settings, the large LCD screen, and that it's great for families. However, the reviewers were not impressed with the mixing paddle or with how loud it gets. Baking Smart recommends this Oster model because it's user-friendly, compact, and inexpensive.

Most buyer reviews highlight how versatile and intuitive this maker is for its low price. For instance, one shopper used plain, all-purpose white flour (instead of bread flour) and didn't follow the manual's instructions and still had excellent results.

Pros: User-friendly, inexpensive, versatile

Cons: Reports of machine "walking" along counter when making larger batches



The best compact bread machine

If you are a loaf-a-week household, the Sunbeam 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker will pay for itself within a year, and you can customize the bread to your liking.

The Sunbeam 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker is a 600-watt unit designed to produce 1.5-pound and 2-pound loaves. There are 12 pre-programmed settings for sandwich bread, cake, jam, dough ExpressBake (which Sunbeam claims bakes bread in under an hour), sweets, whole wheat, French, basic, and more. It's also compact, measuring only 14 x 9.75 x 9.5 inches, so you won't feel like you're cluttering your countertop with yet another clunky kitchen appliance. 

There are also three crust darkness settings and a delayed 13-hour timer. The unit should only be washed by hand, and you should not use metal utensils on the non-stick surface. Sunbeam offers a one-year limited warranty with this product. 

Bread Maker Machines recommends the Sunbeam Breadmaker if you are looking for a model that has several pre-programmed settings and a non-stick bread pan. However, the reviewers found that it's quite loud and that the included recipe and instruction book is not very helpful.

Consumer Search liked how durable and easy to use it is, and the reviewers were also surprised by the variety of features, given the low price. Bread Machine Pros noted that the Sunbeam does a great job of making tasty bread loaves, including specialty breads.

The main complaints from buyers are that the instruction booklet produces inedible bread and that it's hard to read the LCD screen.

Pros: Small size, dozen preprogrammed settings, affordable, intuitive user interface

Cons: Loud, unhelpful recipe book



The best convection bread machine

The Convection Bread Maker by Cuisinart was designed for fast, even baking of a variety of different bread types.

Much like a convection oven or air fryer (which uses the same technology), the Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker uses a fan to circulate heat allowing it to cook faster and more evenly than its non-convection counterparts.

This 680-watt bread machine can make more than 100 bread, jam, sweet cake, and dough styles. You can also choose three loaf sizes, three crust colors, and 16 pre-programmed menu options. There is also a 12-hour delayed start. The bread machine produces tones that let you know when to add mix-ins and when to remove the paddle. Cuisinart offers a three-year limited warranty on this product.

Steamy Kitchen liked the Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker because it bakes sandwich breads quickly and evenly. However, the reviewer found that the control panel is a bit confusing and inconsistent. Village Bakery was impressed by the detailed product manual and the 16 pre-programmed menu options. 

Pros: 16 preset options, convection fan for even and quick baking, comes with excellent manual/cookbook

Cons: Doesn't always sufficiently mix ingredients



The best for making unique breads

With its automatic fruit and nut dispenser and four loaf sizes, the Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker is ideal for home bakers who like to make a variety of breads.

In addition to its stylish design, the Breville Bread Maker is packed with features. It makes 1-pound, 1.5-pound, 2-pound, and 2.5-pound loaves. Plus, there are three colors to pick from and 13 automatic settings. The kneading paddle mixes ingredients thoroughly then collapses before the baking cycle to minimize the hole in the base of the loaf. 

Perhaps best of all, this bread maker has a compartment that automatically dispenses fruits and nuts during the kneading phase. Plus, the 133-page user manual has 46 step-by-step recipes, including olive and roasted garlic bread and maple pecan bread.

Bread Machine Pros liked that the Custom Loaf Bread Maker has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser, viewing window with light, a nice screen, modern design, and four loaf size alternatives. As for downsides, Make Bread At Home found it to be exceedingly large and noisy. However, the reviewer did like the bread it produced.

Pros: Four loaf size options, 13 pre-programmed settings, automatic fruit and nut dispenser

Cons: May be too noisy for some



Check out our other great guides for home cooks

The best KitchenAid attachments

The best attachments for your KitchenAid mixer can do all kinds of things, from making pasta to churning ice cream. They can even replace other appliances in your kitchen. See more: The best KitchenAid attachments


The best cookie cutters 

A great set of cookie cutters makes those delicious holiday treats even more of a pleasure to make and share. See more: The best cookie cutters



22 years after its publication, 'The Innovator's Dilemma' is still the best book on disruption ever written. Here are 5 key takeaways you may have missed on your first read.

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clayton christensen

  • Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of the seminal work of business theory, "The Innovator's Dilemma," died yesterday at age 67, Deseret News first reported
  • In his book, which was first published in 1997, Christensen describes how established companies are displaced by competition when they fail to self-disrupt.
  • Takeaways from the book spawned a new framework for thinking about innovation that continues to resonate today.
  • Despite its status as a touchpoint, its application is sometimes seen as limited even as many lessons are still highly useful. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

 

Years ago, as an employee at an ecommerce startup that sold quirky household items, I began hearing the word "disrupt" with more frequency than ever before in my life. It figured heavily during all-hands meetings and was often invoked when describing the flash sale model of the site, with products selling at a deep discount for a brief period of time. 

Back then, I took for granted that it was just part of the Startupland vocabulary. But after reading Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms To Fail," I understand that more often than not, "disrupt" was being misapplied. "Disruptive technology" is often used to describe a superficial departure from business as usual. In actuality, it refers to a technology or innovation that significantly affects the way an industry or particular market functions. 

the innovators dilemma

The book, which came out in 1997 midway through the dot-com bubble, is a seminal text that turned its author into one of the most influential business theorists of our time. Christensen, who had been a professor at the Harvard Business School for more than two decades, enlisted real-world examples to make the case that established companies are in a bind: The strategies that make them successful can hamper innovation, but failure to innovate can put them on a path toward demise. The theory itself describes how an innovation can transform a market or sector by "introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high cost are the status quo," as described on the Christensen Institute website

As an example from the text, when digital photography was first emerging, it wasn't initially suitable for the needs of "serious" photographers. Kodak, then an incumbent of the category, did not prioritize getting ahead of that innovation. But over time, digital photography advanced, eventually eclipsing film. Ultimately, Kodak was displaced as a Goliath of the category. 

More than two decades after its publication, "The Innovator's Dilemma" is still a touchpoint in business school classrooms and a staple of executive bookshelves, with a legacy that can't be overestimated (though it also has its critics, too). The book also packs a lot of dense information and theory into 11 chapters; even for a journalist who regularly covers technology and the startup scene, it was a tough read to internalize. 

To that end, I tapped innovation experts to comment on what they think the lasting lessons of Christensen's book are, 22 years later — and its limitations as a business bible. 

Takeaway #1: If you focus all of your attention on your current customers, you're potentially missing out on building your base 

Victor Bennett, an associate professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business in the program's Strategy sub-discipline, cringes when he hears startups talk about "delighting their customers." 

"I tell my classes: These are the last people you should delight because they're already your customer — you should think about the people who aren't buying from you and [be] asking, 'Why not?'" Bennett explained. "For me, that's the lesson of ['The Innovator's Dilemma']: You have to be thinking about the people you're not serving and whether or not you should be." 

This concept is part of Christensen's core argument: Incumbent companies, he reasons, are so trained on serving the needs of the customers they already serve that they neglect to focus on who else they might reach or expand into untapped markets — which are being served by companies that might eventually become competition. At the same time, re-routing resources from a strategy with proven results to one whose ROI is murkier can be a hard sell, too. 

Looking back at the intervening years since the book's publication, you can find a cautionary tale of a dilemma in the evolution of personal computers: Before PCs, mainframes and minicomputers, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and required expertise to operate, were the incumbent products. Then Apple began selling toy computers marketed to children. While at first those products didn't compete with mainframes or minicomputers, over time the PC emerged as a product that could do the work of its technological predecessors and was also smaller and more affordable. Ultimately, the new market for PC replaced the status quo. 

"The heart of innovation is still building a plane on the way down," said Patrick FitzGerald, a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's Entrepreneurship program. "Big companies just aren't always willing or able to take those massive leaps of faith." 

Today, more so than in 1997, Fortune 500 companies recognize the need to innovate and expand scope. Many adopt strategies suggested in "The Innovator's Dilemma" to broaden their strategy and offerings. Still, said FitzGerald, "At the end of the day, if your business model is making cars, and you're really good at making cars and making shareholders happy, it's hard to take a risk and do something else." 

Takeaway #2: No matter how successful your company is right now, assume that someone out there is already nibbling your lunch 

Being too comfortable can do damage. Another legacy of Christensen's theory, according to FitzGerald, is increased awareness among leaders that new contenders are trying to disrupt their industries every day. Regardless of your current status, said FitzGerald, "It can happen to you, because there's young bucks coming up and trying to make new things every day." Also file under: the benefits of healthy paranoia. 

But while Christensen outlines the barriers to innovation at an incumbent company, Mohan Sawhney, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, where he is also the director of the Center for Research in Technology & Innovation, insisted that many companies are able to disrupt from within. He explained that, rather than hinder an established business, resources and infrastructure can be an asset when properly leveraged. 

"If you combine the weight of a dinosaur with the agility of a gazelle, you have a very dangerous animal," Sawhney said. "Size and incumbency are correlated with a lack of ability to disrupt yourself, but correlation is not causation." 

Takeaway #3: Don't underestimate the power of a 'good enough' product 

While "disruption" is most-often bandied about in tech circles, Christensen illustrates the concept across specific fields, including heavy industry. Consider the case of the mini-mill, a '70s era innovation that enabled steel to be produced from scrap metal rather than iron ore. Initially, the incumbents within the industry weren't too concerned: Their time-tested product was stronger and better quality than the "competitor" product, which they didn't view as a competitor at all. But over time, the mini-mills continued to improve in quality and reputation, with the added benefit that they were able to set up shop close to cities instead of being locationally limited to iron ore mines. 

"The definition of innovation is usually to keep climbing in performance and building increasingly more sophisticated, complex, high-performance products," said Sawhney. "What that does is potentially open up a flank in the low end, where customers say: Enough already. I don't need a bazooka to open up a can of peas — I just need a can opener." 

Even as Sawnhey gave Christensen credit for highlighting the value of a "good enough" product, he also thought the title of the book has it backwards. "It's not the innovator's dilemma. It's the incumbent's dilemma," he said — they're the ones that have to adapt to survive. 

Takeaway #4: Disruption isn't (just) a marketing buzzword — it's a systemic redesign of the way things are done 

People use the word "disruption" all the time, often attributing the meaning to Christensen. But, "a lot of what they're talking about is not what he was talking about," said Bennett, the Fuqua professor. "People use 'disruption' when they're talking about a different business model." True disruption, in the Christensen sense, is relatively rare. 

For example: People talk a lot about the ways that the internet has disrupted retail. But Bennett challenges people using the word "disrupt" to consider the secondary innovations and technologies that make online shopping possible. For example, though the internet enables online shopping, robotic distribution centers enable items to be delivered efficiently. Furthermore, inventory management tech systems are essential sales and returns; delivery relies on roads and transportation infrastructure; and Saturday mail makes it easier for people to receive packages. "So is it the internet that's disrupting retail?" he asks, "or the structures that built out around it?" 

At the same time, what counts as "disruption" may be in the eye of the beholder. WeWork, once heralded as a beacon of disruption, looks more like a standard real estate model today. Sawnhey, the Kellogg professor, cited Tesla as a disruptive company — the ability to deploy technological updates is game-changing, as is the sales process. Jeremy Kagan, the managing director at Columbia University's Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, pointed to Uber and Airbnb as examples. What those companies did, he said, was "change the perception of what we can do" by reshaping the way we interact with travel and transportation. 

"Disruption, to me, is typically something that changes the rules of engagement," Kagan said. One example he cited from the dot-com-boom days was when AOL shifted its rates from browsing per minute to unlimited access for a set price. "People didn't feel like the meter was running, so they were willing to try new things. That changed consumer behavior," he explained. 

Another example: Software as a service (SaaS) companies — including Google, Adobe, Slack, MailChimp, and Shopify — make it possible to rent CRM, CMS, HR, and other software in a way that has altered the dynamics of operations. "It's been a tidal wave that has affected everything. It doesn't lock you in. It allows for rapid changes and deploying updates," Kagan said.

To Kagan, the in-vogue "lean startup" methodology follows in the lineage of the ideas outlined within "The Innovator's Dilemma." Quickly launching a shop on Shopify, testing campaigns with marketing software, rapidly creating prototypes — moving fast and breaking things owes a debt to Christensen.

Takeaway #5: Disruption may be more rare exception than broad rule 

Everyone I spoke with pointed to certain limitations of the theories espoused in Christensen's book — among them, the fact that the process by which incumbents are toppled is limited to a handful of examples. Some critics claim that Christensen cherry-picked companies and data, ignoring information that didn't fit his theory. FitzGerald, the Wharton lecturer, also suggested that the kind of game-changing disruptive innovation described by Christensen is "still limited to basically five people per decade." 

Disruption, like the passing of some capitalistic comet, is a generational phenomenon. 

"Everything has gotten faster in the startup world. But the speed to exit or the speed to become a household name: That's still the same time frame," FitzGerald said. "We always think about those overnight successes. But the average innovator or entrepreneur, people still look at them like they're insane."

And becoming Jeff Bezos? "That's not going to happen to 99.9999% of people," he said. 

SEE ALSO: The 20 best VC podcasts to listen to, according to successful investors, founders, and CEOs

READ MORE: I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. I've learned more this year than any other year of my life because I made 5 important changes.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.

LISTEN: 5 key takeaways from 'The Innovator's Dilemma,' the best book on disruption ever written

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Clay Christensen

  • Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of the seminal work of business theory, "The Innovator's Dilemma," died yesterday at age 67, Deseret News first reported
  • In his book, which was first published in 1997, Christensen describes how established companies are displaced by competition when they fail to self-disrupt.
  • Takeaways from the book spawned a new framework for thinking about innovation that continues to resonate today.
  • Despite its status as a touchpoint, its application is sometimes seen as limited even as many lessons are still highly useful. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Listen to this story in audio format:

 

Read this story in text format: 22 years after its publication, 'The Innovator's Dilemma' is still the best book on disruption ever written. Here are 5 key takeaways you may have missed on your first read.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.

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