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38 stunning photos of trains taken as they cross America



First, let's recognize that plenty of people have had a gripe with Amtrak in the past. It has an aging (and underfunded) system of trains, and passengers often face delays and high prices.

But there is still something darn romantic about traveling by train — stretching out your legs, gazing out the window as the forest or sea slips by you. It can be casually luxurious in a way flying or driving just can't compete with.

And the beauty you can see out the window as you cut your way across the US can be breathtaking, as evidenced by Amtrak's Instagram account, which showcases the best photos taken by its passengers. The photos span from Seattle to Florida, and from snow to sunshine.

Here are our favorite Amtrak photos that show the enduring romance of trains:

"There's something enchanting and romantic about chugging your way through snow covered Oregon forest, kissing Redding, curving around the Bay, speeding down the I-5 and surfing down the coast."

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"The Empire Builder heading off to Northwest."

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No guy should wear board shorts to the beach — here's what you should wear instead

4 things every business traveler should do to avoid a stressful trip


room service

Traveling can be stressful, especially when you've got work to consider throughout your trip. 

Thankfully, there are some tricks and tips that you can use to make your business trip as seamless as possible. 

We spoke to Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and former flight attendant who specializes in practical tips for business travelers, to get her advice on eliminating unwanted stress. 

Whether you're looking to save time at the airport, have a more comfortable flight, or save time once you arrive to your destination, here are four of Swann's tips to consider for your next trip. 

SEE ALSO: This app wants to be the ultimate social network for golfers

DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

When you're at the airport, look for lines to your left.

If you want to save as much time as possible at the airport, snagging a spot in a shorter line can help.

Swann recommends looking for lines on your left side as opposed to your right. Studies have shown that Americans are more likely to turn right than left when they enter a building, which can sometimes means that lines on the left will be shorter. 

Don't be afraid to ask for certain items or requests on your flight.

According to Swann, flight attendants will often have no problem assisting with requests like moving you to a different seat, as long as the plane has open rows. 

She added that people often feel like they aren't allowed to ask about this, but the request can sometimes prove successful when the space is available. 

Similarly, airlines offer a variety of free items that can range from amenity kits to games. Swann says that customers often don't know to ask for them, since they aren't necessarily advertised. 

Read up on hand gestures.

When it comes to conducting business meetings in other countries, Swann urges travelers to research what various hand gestures mean in the places they are traveling to.

While a gesture might convey a certain message in one country, it might mean the exact opposite in another.

For example, in Ireland and Australia, making a peace sign with your palm facing inward (or a V sign), is equivalent to using the middle finger in the US. Be careful not to send the wrong message. 

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25 of the most obscure terms you see on restaurant menus, and what they really mean

14 of your biggest questions about wine answered with science


cheers with wine glasses

We've all been there.

You're in a liquor or grocery store, trying to pick out wine with a group of friends when, inevitably, some unexpected member offers up their expert opinion.

Truth be told, there's a whole lot of science behind wine. Genetics, chemistry, microbiology, and even psychology all play a role in everything from how it's produced to which ones we buy and when.

To get a better sense of what goes into making that glass of red or white, we chatted with James Harbertson, a Washington State University professor of enology — that's the study of wine.

SEE ALSO: The definitive, scientific answers to 20 health questions everyone has

DON'T MISS: 15 simple ways to relax, according to scientists

Is cheap wine bad for you?

No way. Last year, rumors of a lawsuit that claimed that cheap wines had high levels of arsenic in it began circulating. One small detail the rumors left out: The lawsuit compared the levels of arsenic in wine to that of drinking water. To have any kind of negative experience as a result of this, you'd most likely have to drink about 2 liters of wine — a little more than 13 servings' worth.

That's an awful lot of wine.

What's the difference between a wine that costs $50 and a wine that costs $500?

The short answer? Not a lot — so long as you're just drinking it.

The price comes from a number of different factors — the maker, the type of grape, how long it's aged, etc. But if you're just looking for a solid bottle of wine, an inexpensive bottle could taste just as good if not better than a thousand-dollar bottle.

If anything, there's a bigger psychological component at play. A study that conducted a blind taste test in which people were given samples of wine found that they did not get any more enjoyment from a more expensive wine compared to a less expensive version. In another study, researchers found that untrained wine tasters actually liked the more expensive wines less than the cheaper ones.

If you're collecting, on the other hand, of course the price tag will make a difference.

"In the end, it's just wine," said Harbertson.

What are tannins and what are they doing in my wine?

You know that dry feeling you get in your mouth after a sip of red wine? You can thank tannins, naturally occurring chemicals that are found in wine and other beverages, like black tea.

Tannins give wine its weight — what makes it more milky than watery — so they're integral to all red wines, Harbertson said. They bind to proteins like the ones in saliva, which is what makes your mouth dry out. It's not as simple an experience as tasting something that's bitter, he said. The interaction of red wine in your mouth ends up feeling more like a texture than just a taste, something known as a "mouthfeel."

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This is how billionaires can buy their survival during an apocalypse

17 summer clothing essentials every guy should have

13 ways you can cheat death by using your ashes to become something awesome


4x3_13 coolest uses for your ashes when you dieDeath isn’t cool. It can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. And it doesn’t wait around for you to cross those last few items off your bucket list before dragging you unceremoniously to that great, big junkyard in the sky.

But what if death wasn’t the end? What if there was a way to use your lifeless remains to orbit the Earth. Or become, say, a fireworks display. Or a paperweight.

Here are some of the craziest ways you can use death as an opportunity to become something awesome.


SEE ALSO: 7 unusual and fascinating funeral traditions around the world

DON'T MISS: This biodegradable urn turns you into a tree after you die


Death is no fun. But shooting stuff can be. If you sacrifice just one pound of your ashes, Holy Smoke will fill 250 bullets for your loved ones to do gosh knows what with. If the recipient is a sharp-enough shooter, maybe you’ll have a few furry friends to join you in the afterlife.

vinyl record

The only thing better than jamming out to that perfect tune is jamming out to that perfect tune on a record pressed with the ashes of a loved one. Vinyly will press your ashes into your favorite record so you can live forever in the song of your choosing. You can even record your own audio if you want. Or, if you’re feeling a little creepy, you can leave the record blank, so when the needle drops, nothing but pops and crackles of your cremated remains will fill the room.


Death (and $12,500) might just buy you a ticket into space. A program called Celestis will hitch your ashes to a space shuttle and launch them into the great beyond. If you want, you can take a short trip into space before returning back to Earth. Or, you can book a one-way ticket and spend the rest of your (infinite) days floating in deep space, orbiting the Earth, or even hanging out on the surface of the moon.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

New Yorkers are lining up down the block to get into these massive emo music-themed parties

The US will be totally unrecognizable by the end of this century


lifeguard pool summer

It's hot out. Record-breaking hot. This April was the warmest April on record. It was the 12th month in a row to set a new record.

Calling it a trend would be an understatement. This warming is relentless.

But miserably hot summers aren't even the worst problem facing us in the coming decades.

Here are some of the craziest ways climate change will change the US as we know it:

SEE ALSO: A stunning glacier in Iceland shows exactly how much the climate has changed

DON'T MISS: New York is facing its biggest threat ever, and people are still in denial

As oceans get warmer and northern sea ice begins to melt, sea levels will rise, increasing the frequency of floods. That's because as water warms, it grows in volume. And land ice, such as that of mountain glaciers and giant ice sheets, melts.

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Sources: "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007," NASA

Summer will be more like ... death. That's because climate change lengthens summer months and makes them hotter. By the 2050s, New York City could see as many as seven heat waves per year, with about two months' worth — or as much as twice what we currently experience — of days where the maximum temperature is at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sources: "Shifting Cities" by Climate CentralAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences

As climate change drives up temperatures, wildfire seasons in the western US will begin to start earlier, last longer, and be more intense.

Source: National Wildlife Federation

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

If you're getting married because you think it'll make you happy, you might want to reconsider


Couple Laughing Together

Thinking about tying the knot? You're probably wondering if — and how — such a big commitment will impact your relationship.

A friend who knows I'm in a long-term relationship recently sent me a New York Times' opinion piece titled "13 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married." What she probably doesn't know is that she sent me on an entirely different research mission: to see what we know about the effect marriage actually has on peoples' happiness.

Sure, you may have heard that married people report being happier overall over their lifetimes than single folks, or that people tend to say they're more "satisfied" with life just after their weddings.

But is it actually the act of marriage that's causing those benefits?

Probably not.

In fact, there's loads of evidence to the contrary: A 2012 study found that couples who lived together but were not married had higher self-esteem and were happier overall than their counterparts who were married. A 2011 review of the impact of happiness on major life events found that couples who got married generally felt less happy and less satisfied over time than couples who had not.

More importantly to me than all these negative studies, however, was a recent bright spot in the research which suggests that it isn't marriage that's the key to happiness, but the quality of the relationship itself.

A 2014 working paper from the National Bureau of Economics Research found that if the person you call your partner (or significant other, or whatever) is also the person you see as your best friend, you don't actually need to be married to reap the benefits of a long-term relationship. And it's this factor, rather than getting married (or not) that appears to matter the most for happiness.

'Maybe what is really important is friendship'

young coupleFor their 2014 paper, the researchers' initial findings appeared to support the "if marriage, then happiness" idea: They found that couples who were married tended to have higher happiness levels than couples who were not.

But the second part of that finding threw it out the window: It turned out that the couples who were best friends and lived together were just as happy as couples who were best friends and married. In other words, marriage didn't appear to matter much at all.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers studied three separate data sets that included information about thousands of couples: The United Kingdom's Annual Population Survey, the British Household Panel Survey, and the Gallup World Poll. Then, they controlled for couples' age, gender, income, and health conditions (all of which could potentially affect their results).

Here's a chart from the study comparing the "life satisfaction" of couples who were married (blue bars) with couples who lived together but were unmarried (red bars). Couples who said their partner was their best friend are on the left.

marriage happiness chartPeople in a relationship who saw their significant other as their best friend and either lived with that person or married them were happier than couples who saw their best friend as someone outside of the relationship.

"What immediately intrigued me about the results was to rethink marriage as a whole," University of British Columbia economics professor and study coauthor John Helliwell recently told the New York Times. "Maybe what is really important is friendship, and to never forget that in the push and pull of daily life."

This study isn't the first to arrive at this finding.

Other research backs the idea that marriage isn't the key to happiness

coupleIn 2012, four authors published a statistical analysis and summary of 18 studies of people who wed and eight of couples who divorced. Social psychologist Bella DePaulo recently took another look at that meta-analysis in a blog post for Psychology Today.

Here's what the authors found, DePaulo writes:

"Except for that initial short-lived honeymoon effect for life satisfaction, getting married did not result in getting happier or more satisfied. In fact, for life satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, the trajectories over time headed in the less satisfied direction."

But that's not all.

"What is really remarkable about the combined findings of the 18 studies," writes DePaulo, "is that the designs were biased in favor of making marriage look good. At least 11 of the studies included only those people who got married and stayed married."

In other words, the results of this larger paper can't tell us a whole lot about the results of marriage. Rather, they really only give us insight into what happens to people who get married and stay married. We don't know much about what happens to those who get married and then get divorced or separate.

"Too many social scientists simply are not going to give up on the claim that getting married makes you happier," DePaulo writes.

For another 2012 study (this one a survey of American couples), researchers found that couples who lived together but were not married had higher self-esteem and were happier overall than their married counterparts. Both types of relationships, however, were still linked with increases in overall well-being. Other studies suggest that marriage might even be more closely linked with negative outcomes than positive ones: A 2011 review of the impact on happiness of major life events found that couples who got married generally felt less happy and less satisfied with their lives over time.

The key takeaway here? Find a partner you consider your best friend. And don't worry so much about the other stuff.

UP NEXT: Giving thanks could be the key to lasting relationships

SEE ALSO: I tried the app that links you with a therapist over text, and it completely changed my view of therapy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The simplest way to get — and stay — happy, according to psychologists

Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world


main creators ss page

At Business Insider, we believe capitalism can and should be a force for good. With this inaugural edition of Business Insider 100: The Creators, we are celebrating leaders who embody this spirit.

Many rankings focus only on those who have achieved great financial success. Our CEO Henry Blodget sums up the drawbacks of such a focus:

"The more money you make, the implication is, the better and more successful you are. We believe this cheapens the mission and sense of purpose that many great business leaders bring to their companies and products. And it certainly undersells their inspiring accomplishments."

Over the course of several months, we scoured the business landscape for inventive leaders making bold moves to create value for four constituencies: shareholders, employees, consumers, and society.

We scoured the business landscape for inventive leaders making bold moves.

We found companies from around the world, both public and private, across many industries. We considered not only what they have created, but how. We consulted a variety of databases, including Glassdoor to gauge employee sentiment and Wealth-X to chart noteworthy philanthropic missions.

Not every company is a standout in each criteria. Companies with a questionable record with their employees, for example, weren't necessarily eliminated, but they rank lower than similar companies that make employee welfare a priority. Size wasn't a deciding factor. Small companies adding great value to the world, like Toms, outranked many multinational conglomerates, such as IKEA. Other entrants, such as Uber and Snapchat, make the list primarily because they have created dramatic economic or cultural impact, attracting millions of customers daily.

To celebrate many of these inspiring people and success stories, we're pleased to present Business Insider 100: The Creators.

The Creators: Ranked 1 to 100

The Creators: Sorted A to Z by company

Edited by Alex Morrell. 

Additional editing and reporting by Matthew DeBord, Diane Galligan, Mo Hadi, Ashley Lutz, Lydia Ramsey, Matt Rosoff, Sara Silverstein, Dave Smith, and Matthew Turner

100. Andras Forgacs

Cofounder and CEO, Modern Meadow

 Modern Meadow’s cofounder and CEO, Andras Forgacs, believes that as our population grows to 10 billion people in the next few decades we will need 100 billion animals to sustain our meat, dairy, and leather needs. Modern Meadow has found a way to grow food and leather in its lab using biofabrication, which takes small biopsies from animals, leaving them unharmed.

Modern Meadow says its solution will mean 99% less land required for animals, 96% less water to create the meat, 96% fewer greenhouse gases emitted, and 45% less energy needed to produce the meat.

Forgacs, who also cofounded the 3-D organ printing company Organovo, says  he meat takes about a month to produce, and the leather takes a month and a half. Compared to the years it takes to raise animals, that’s almost like no time at all, Modern Meadow just needs to figure out how to commercialize it first. Forgacs told Crain’s he sees the products hitting the market in 2018.

99. Jessica Alba

Cofounder, The Honest Company

In 2011, Jessica Alba pivoted from entertainment to entrepreneurship, launching The Honest Company — a startup dedicated to producing eco-friendly household and beauty products. The idea came to her years before, when she was starting a family and tested a baby detergent that caused her to break out in a rash. Alba was frustrated to find dubious ingredients and safety records for many other household products, so she took matters into her own hands, starting The Honest Company with entrepreneur Brian Lee.

Though it began as an online shopping site, The Honest Company’s products eventually hit the shelves in stores like Costco, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods. As it has expanded, its dedication to creating sustainable products and making a social difference hasn’t wavered, earning it B Corporation certification in 2012. Alba also takes care of her more than 500 employees, announcing this year a benefit of up to 16 weeks paid parental leave for new parents, up from 10 weeks.

But the brand has hit a few bumps in the road. It has faced a spate of lawsuits alleging its products — including baby formula, shampoo, detergent, and sunscreen — contain the same nonorganic, unsafe ingredients the company was created to avoid. The Honest Company has denied the accusations and is fighting the lawsuits.

Alba hasn’t let the flap slow it down. The budding retail operation, which has raised over $200 million in funding and is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion, has been flirting with an IPO this year.

98. David Reis

CEO, Stratasys

The world’s largest 3-D printing company, Stratasys develops and manufactures professional printers and materials capable of building everything from factory parts to dental equipment to personal projects. The company also encompasses smaller ventures such as MakerBot, known for leading the charge in desktop 3-D printing.

In 2012, Stratasys merged with Objet, another leader in the 3-D printing space, to become a dominant firm worth an approximate $3 billion at the time. Objet CEO David Reis also came over with the acquisition, taking over as chief executive of the new, larger company.

Under the leadership of Reis, who will step down as CEO this summer, the two companies’ histories abound with milestones for the industry, including introducing the first 3-D printer available for under $30,000 in 2002, launching the world’s first multimaterial 3-D printer in 2007, and building the first printer to combine more than 100 materials in 2012.

In April, Stratasys added one more milestone to that list. It debuted a new printer than can seamlessly switch between 360,0000 colors and up to six materials. To put the technology into perspective, an OtterBox phone case would previously take three full days to prototype, but using the new printer, it can be made in a mere 30 minutes. The technology will help cut down production time — and cost — on everything from stop-motion animation to airplane parts.

Despite year-over-year revenue losses and a slowdown in the 3-D printing industry at large, Stratasys beat Wall Street expectations for its fourth-quarter earnings, and its stock surged nearly 30% in March.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Henry Blodget: Introducing the BI 100: The Creators, celebrating a better capitalism


At Business Insider, we believe that success in business is about more than the bottom line.

Great business leaders and companies don't just make money. They create value. And they create value for many constituencies, not just shareholders.

4x3 the creatorsSpecifically, great business leaders and companies create value for shareholders, customers, employees, and society.

Most celebrations of business success don't acknowledge this. Instead, they judge success by wealth or stock performance or other financial criteria. The more money you make, the implication is, the better and more successful you are.

We believe this cheapens the mission and sense of purpose that many great business leaders bring to their companies and products. And it certainly undersells their inspiring accomplishments.

At Business Insider, we believe the most successful and inspiring leaders create value in four specific ways:

  • They create great products and services that improve people's lives.
  • They create rewarding, inspiring, and dynamic work environments and treat (and pay) their employees well.
  • They treat society and the environment with respect.
  • And, yes, they generate good returns for shareholders.

In short, great leaders and companies make the world a better place.

To celebrate many of these inspiring people and success stories, we're pleased to debut the Business Insider 100: The Creators.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Sal Khan: Educating the world — for free

LinkedIn's fabulous skyscraper office in San Francisco will now be part of the Microsoft empire



This morning, Microsoft announced it would buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, one of the biggest acquisitions in tech since the dot-com heyday.

That means Microsoft will take possession of LinkedIn's fabulous new offices in downtown San Francisco. 

We have seen a lot of over-the-top tech company offices, both in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley to the south. But LinkedIn's new building has a ton of stuff we'd never seen before. Check it out:

SEE ALSO: Inside the happiest office in London — where some employees get a $14,000 travel allowance

Here's the skyscraper. The San Francisco Chronicle's architecture writer panned it, saying it looked as if it was 'designed and built by New Yorkers' and comparing it to Darth Vader. But that seems a little extreme. It's a skyscraper. It's reflective and black. It looks kind of cool, if a little imposing.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Walk inside and the lobby is gorgeous. It's a public space, open to anybody.

It's covered in beautiful wood.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

An IBM executive spent over $200,000 renovating his New York City home — take a look inside



This 1850's Gramercy Park townhome is located at the corner of bustling city life and serene views.

The homeowner, an IBM executive who wanted to be identified only by his first name, Brian, said the location is ideal.

"It’s a fabulous area because you have the parks right outside, so it’s absolutely peaceful and quiet and then you only walk three blocks and you’re on Union Square, Broadway, and 5th Avenue," Brian said.

The IBM executive and European published author has spent over $200,000 on renovations at the Gramercy Park home. He told BI that he draws inspiration from his time spent in Paris, Monaco, and Copenhagen.

"I’ve lived in so many places around the world," Brian said. "It’s just one of these transitions, finding a new space and developing a new product."

SEE ALSO: 14 of the most luxurious homes you can rent in the Hamptons this summer

DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's Lifestyle page on Facebook!

To make the most of the space, Brian had to think creatively. "There's a bookcase in the middle next to the fireplace downstairs that’s actually a murphy bed," Brian said.

When he originally purchased the home, Brian was displeased with the lack of light. "The brick walls were very dark and brown and everything was old," Brian said.

After the renovations, the pristine kitchen offers plenty of storage and counter space, perfect for hosting intimate dinner parties.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This Swedish-inspired coffee chain is taking over New York City



Fika, a Manhattan-based coffee chain, wants New Yorkers to slow down.

At the headquarters on 55th Street, people chat with friends over plates of chocolate and tiny cups of espresso. Other customers sit in "Mad Men"-esque chairs and type on laptops, soaking up Fika's free Wifi and Scandinavian design.

The scene is a startling departure from most NYC coffee shops, which rush you through the line and out the door. Some even have time limits for how long you can sit.

But Fika doesn't mind if you linger — in fact, the shop encourages it. The company's name is a nod to the Swedish word, "fika," the daily ritual of taking a break from work, usually centered around coffee, sweets, and friends. 

This idea — encouraging customers to unwind and connect IRL — may be the reason why it's the fastest growing coffee chain in NYC.  "It's a way of life in Sweden," Fika's CEO Lars Akerlund tells Tech Insider. "Any workplace in Sweden, whether it's a small gas station or a 5,000-employee corporation, you have a fika in the morning and a fika in the afternoon."


Akerlund emigrated to the US from Sweden in 2005, and founded Fika a year later. 

The coffee chain will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year, with 17 locations spanning from Manhattan’s southernmost tip to 89th Street. Starting later this year, the company plans to expand to five more cities: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, and Chicago.

Eventually, Akerlund wants to expand Fika globally.

He describes his experience as the epitome of the American Dream, but it hasn't been any easy journey.

When he wanted to launch Fika, he tried (and failed) to convince over 70 Manhattan building owners to let him start the business. Only one owner at 41 West 58th Street, Fika's first location, took a chance on him.

By the end of the first day, Akerlund had $247 in his personal bank account, using most of it to launch the store. Fika charged $2 for a small cup of coffee, which was expensive for 2006 (Akerlund recalls a man's baffled reaction to the price: "Why would I pay over a dollar for a cup of coffee?!"). 


At first, it was hard to convince customers to buy expensive coffee, because it wasn't considered an art form like it is today.

When coffee first hit American shores and the country entered the first wave of coffee culture , it was mainly thought of as merely something to wake you up — never mind how it tasted.

Around the late 1980s, Starbucks (inspired by European espresso culture) pioneered gourmet coffee culture in the US, kicking off the second wave and charging higher prices for specialty drinks. Then, near the beginning of the millennium, coffee shops moved toward even more expensive, higher quality brews. Known as the third wave, baristas started concentrating more on the beans' origin and pored over latté art.

Fika opened a few years into the third wave, and people were still warming up to the idea of $2 cups of coffee. But once people started to equate Fika's espresso and coffee with quality, they didn't mind paying more money for it, Akerlund says.


Now, Fika, which charges upwards of $4 for a latté, is taking over Manhattan.

Fika's 5,000-square-foot, two-story headquarters opened in 2014 and is the company's largest location. When you walk in, you immediately see a giant black-and-white photo on the wall (taken by Akerlund) of a street in Sweden.

He has picked out every design detail in the shops, including the furniture, lights, and paintings. The slender chairs, tables, and booths are throwbacks to '60s and '70s Scandinavian design, characterized by minimalist forms and pops of color. Wallpaper featuring illustrations by Swedish artist Josef Frank lines the bar upstairs.

While Fika follows a Scandinavian aesthetic, everything in the stores — from the tables to the floor polish to the milk — is made in the US. For example, Akerlund is friends with the dairy farmers that deliver the shops' milk, and the company buys an organic detergent from a company in Queens. The idea is support other homegrown businesses. 

Akerlund also knows many of the people who farm Fika's coffee plants in places like Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya. The coffee chain's beans are roasted nearby in Brooklyn, so they're still fresh when they arrive at Fika's shops.

"It's more expensive for Fika, but it's worth it," he says.


The food, which is only made by 12 chefs total for all 17 locations, is delicious. The company makes all of its lunches and pastries in its headquarters and then transports them to the other locations, ensuring they're still fresh when they reach the customer.

Only two or three people work in the headquarter's kitchen and bakery at a time. In one day, chef Dean Morrison says he makes up to 400 pastries.


When I visited, Morrison grabbed handfuls of dough from a 30-quart metal barrel. He then molded them into balls to make orange snitt, a Swedish pastry. In the basement, employees prepared wraps and salads to be distributed to the other locations.

Akerlund attributes Fika's culinary success to the fact that the Swedish recipes are handmade with local ingredients.

For example, to make a "Princess Cake," Morrison sculpts layers of raspberry jam, vanilla cream, whipped cream, marzipan, and sponge cake, forming it into a half-sphere shape. This take a long time, he says.


Besides its coffee, the chain is known for its batches of homemade chocolates, which head chocolatier Håkan Mårtensson makes in Fika's Tribeca factory. Sometimes, he carves life-size chocolate sculptures and shows them off on Instagram.

It's important for Fika to have a physical hand in its chocolates instead of using machines, because that's what the store is known for, according to Akerlund. When customers buy a box of chocolates, they know that Mårtensson made it with his own hands, giving the transaction a personal touch.

Hand-making its chocolates also relates back to the fika attitude: slower is not only okay — it's better. The only part of the process that the company wants to automate is the wholesale packaging, which would save time, he says.

As American coffee culture enters its fourth wave — characterized by family-owned shops' ventures into global expansion — Fika wants to ride along.

Akerlund hopes to follow an expansion strategy similar to Apple's, where cities have one flagship location accompanied by smaller satellite stores. Fika currently employees around 160 people (which Akerlund calls a "lean machine"), but the plan is to slowly grow.

Fika's next challenge, like many coffee chains that are trying to jump outside its home city and eventually overseas, will be to retain its fika ethos and practice of only buying US-made supplies.


Starbucks, which has allegedly violated labor laws, evaded UK taxes, and served low-quality coffee for what it charges, has experienced trouble with this.

Even if Fika has the best intentions, keeping the shops' fika tradition alive could be tricky. It's hard for brands to slow down as they grow larger.

"My ultimate vision for Fika has always been to build a global brand," Akerlund says. "There's no doubt in our minds that our spaces and the tradition of the Swedish fika would do very well in many parts of the world."

SEE ALSO: Meet the top 100 business visionaries creating value for the world

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Scientifically proven features men find attractive in women

How New Belgium became the most employee-friendly craft brewery in America


Kim Jordan New Belgium Brewing Company

Twenty-five years after founding New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan still has pinch-me moments.

From 1991 to 2015, Jordan (No. 12 on the BI 100: The Creators) was CEO of New Belgium, which she built into one of the US's largest craft breweries, with $225 million in annual revenue.

The company's success isn't uniquely Jordan's. Since 2013, New Belgium has been 100% employee-owned, which helped solidify Jordan's intent to engage her coworkers in each facet of the business.

In an interview with Business Insider, Jordan, who's now executive chair, discussed the road to employee ownership and how sustainability has been a crucial building block of New Belgium's success.

From basement to brewery

As the story goes, the creation of New Belgium stemmed from a trip Jordan's then husband, Jeff Lebesch, took to Belgium in 1988. As he cruised through the streets on a fat-tire bike and stopped to taste local beers, Lebesch yearned to bring the flavors of Belgian beer back to the US.

Three years later, Jordan, a social worker, and Lebesch, an electrical engineer, installed brewing equipment in the basement of their home in Fort Collins, Colorado. By the summer of 1991, they were selling their two flagship Belgian-style brews, Abbey and Fat Tire, at local beer festivals on the weekends.

At the outset, consumer interest in New Belgium was driven by a void in the market, Jordan said.

"When we started, there was no one in Fort Collins making packaged beer," Jordan said. You couldn't go to a store and buy craft beer to take home. They decided to specialize in 22-ounce bottles of beer, and the cash flow followed.

In their first year of home brewing, New Belgium earned $150,000 in revenue.

Despite the early signs of success, neither Jordan nor Lebesch had quit their day jobs yet. In October 1992, after more than a year of home brewing, the pair finally moved New Belgium from their basement into its first official location in Old Town Fort Collins and took the company on full time.

Introducing employee ownership

In February 1992, months before relocating to the first brewery location, New Belgium hired Brian Callahan — now the company's longest-serving employee aside from Jordan — and gave him a "10% pot of sweat equity" in the company.

By the end of the year, New Belgium was growing fast and hiring bottlers, brewers, and engineers.

New Belgium Brewing Company employees 2013

With a growing team and a booming new business, Jordan said she wanted to create a plan for the succession of the company.

After reading "The Great Game of Business," a book by management expert Jack Stack, Jordan felt inspired by Stack's urge to apply open-book management, the practice of full financial and business transparency within the company.

"It spoke to my desire to have broadly shared awareness of the business and of running the business," Jordan said. "The inclination to have as flat a hierarchy as we could manage and a really trusting, transparent, engaged group of coworkers was really important to me."

In 1995, Jordan began teaching employees about financial statements and enlisting their input for annual planning and long-term strategy. "It was a very collaborative process with a lot of consensus," she said. But she quickly realized that if employees had a say in the company, they should also have a stake in it, and the first iteration of New Belgium employee ownership was born.

Going forward, every employee was formally awarded stock in New Belgium upon their first anniversary at the company.

Becoming 100% employee-owned

In 2000, with a workforce of 90 employees, New Belgium officially transitioned to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), a type of retirement plan that awards employees stock in the company to be distributed upon their exit. The new ESOP purchased Callahan's 10% slice, as well as a portion of Jordan's and Lebesch's shares, bringing employee-ownership to 32%.

A year later, Lebesch left New Belgium to pursue other interests, but it wasn't until 2009 when the couple divorced that New Belgium's board of directors urged Jordan to keep control of the company in the hands of those directly involved with it. New Belgium purchased Lebesch's remaining shares and retired them, bringing the ESOP total to 41%.

updated 25 years of New Belgium graphic

The employee-ownership saga culminated in late 2012, when Jordan and the board of directors decided the best next step for the company would be to place it fully in the hands of employees.

Jordan sold the remaining 59% of the company— her shares, her two sons' shares, and the management's shares — to the ESOP, making New Belgium officially 100% employee-owned.

She announced the sale to more than 450 "thrilled" employees at New Belgium's annual company retreat in January 2013.

Though the sale signified a huge shift on paper, Jordan said, "nothing changed, because we had this culture that we call 'high-involvement culture' deeply embedded within the organization for a very, very long time."

That sets New Belgium apart from other iconic craft breweries, such as Dogfish Head and Lagunitas, which have sold stakes to outside investors. Jordan's sale to the ESOP represents a conscious effort to fight the wealth gap, avoid cuts and layoffs a buyer might have demanded, and keep her employees involved in the future of the company.

"We still expect our coworkers to give us input, rather than feedback, on where the company should be going, both annually and in a longer term," Jordan said. "I think we display a lot of trust by being very open about what we're up to strategically."

B Corporation status

It's typical to associate mass production with unsustainable practices, but the opposite is true at New Belgium. The craft brewery is one of the largest in America and is widelyconsidered the leader in sustainability.

While hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park shortly after founding the brewery, Jordan and Lebesch determined New Belgium's four core values and beliefs (the company now has 10). One value that persists today, Jordan said, is environmental stewardship.

"I love beer, I love drinking beer, I love the beer industry and the people in it, but I wanted our business to be about more than just that," she said.

In 2013, New Belgium codified its commitment to act sustainably when it became a certified B Corporation, a legal status that pushes the company to meet rigorous environmental and social standards. Whether it's the equipment Lebesch engineered to recover reusable heat from the brewing process, a recent investment of $12 million in a water-treatment plant, or installing solar panels at the brewery, every decision New Belgium makes takes into account its mission to conserve resources.

But as hard as Jordan and her coworkers work to make environmental sustainability an integral part of the business, there's another aspect of sustainability that's incredibly important, Jordan said, and that's earning profits.

"We can all be as groovy as we want to be, but the ultimate form of sustainability is being able to keep the doors open," Jordan said. "Having that vision that has a deeply embedded purpose to it helps to ground you, and having that commitment to making sure that the literal sustainability of the company goes forward — you need that combination."

Change is vital to success

In the past 25 years, Jordan has learned a number of important lessons — some of them difficult — about sustaining a business. Chief among them is the willingness to evolve.

Fat Tire anniversary New Belgium

"One of the things that vibrant organizations have to do is change," she said.

In October 2015, Jordan stepped down as CEO and New Belgium president and COO Christine Perich, who's been at the company since 2000, took over.

Jordan is now executive chair and is focusing on New Belgium's brand and portfolio, as well as strategy.

"The pace of change in the world — more specifically, in craft brewing — has been at a pretty steady clip," she said. "You have to figure out where the right places to make change are, and what are the big bets to put your energy behind. And that's an art form."

National expansion

In May, New Belgium opened its highly anticipated second production location and "Liquid Center" tasting room in Asheville, North Carolina, the heart of the craft-beer movement in the South. The new location significantly increases distribution opportunity on the East Coast, and last week New Belgium rolled out in New York.

"We definitely have our eye on becoming a national brewery — a national craft brewery — and building out our whole US footprint and then building a long-term strategy for international growth," Jordan said. "I'm excited for New Belgium. I can't wait to see what happens next."

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The Business Insider 100: The Creators — from A to Z



Business Insider believes in companies that not only achieve great financial success, but that create lasting value for their shareholders, employees, consumers, and society.

With this in mind, we compiled a list of companies, large and small, that embodies this commitment to a bigger picture of leadership and innovation. These companies transcend the boundaries of capitalism and generate creative worth that challenges the idea of traditional business success.

Here is the complete list of the inaugural class of the Business Insider 100: The Creators, sorted alphabetically by company:

23andMe: Anne Wojcicki (No. 41)

A-Grade Investments and Thorn: Ashton Kutcher (No. 71)

Aerie: Jennifer Foyle (No. 30)

Aetna: Mark Bertolini (No. 57)

Airbnb:Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia (No. 37)

Alibaba: Jack Ma (No. 33)

Amazon: Jeff Bezos (No. 20)

Apple: Tim Cook (No. 29)

Arup Engineering: Gregory Hodkinton, Tristram Carfrae and David Whittleton (No. 84)

Baidu: Robin Li (No. 82)

Berkshire Hathaway: Warren Buffet (No. 18)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:Bill and Melinda Gates (No. 5)

Biobots: Danny Cabrera and Ricky Solorzano (No. 65)

BlackRock: Larry Fink (No. 23)

Bloomberg LP: Michael Bloomberg (No. 42)

Bridge International Academies: Shannon May and Jay Kimmelman (No. 22)

Buzzfeed: Jonah Peretti (No. 96)

Clif Bar: Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford (No. 24)

Codecademy: Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinksi (No. 77)

The Container Store:Kip Tindell (No. 32)

d.Light: Ned Tozun and Sam Goldman (No. 88)

Disney and Pixar Animation Studios: John Lasseter and team (No. 36) 

Dajiang Innovation Technology (DJI): Frank Wang (No. 97)

Duolingo: Luis Von Ahn and Severin Hacker (No. 50)

EbonyLife TV:Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu (No. 56)

Ellen Digital Network: Ellen Degeneres (No. 64)

Epic Systems: Judy Faulkner (No. 26)

ESRI: Jack and Laura Dangermond (No. 45)

Etsy: Chad Dickerson and team (No. 62)

Everlane: Michael Preysman (No. 95)

Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg (No. 1)

Facebook: Sheryl Sandberg (No. 63)

Fair Oak Farms: Mike and Sue McCloskey (No. 39)

Fast Retailing: Tadashi Yanai (No. 93)

FitBit: James Park (No. 89)

Foundation Medicine: Alexis Borisy and Michael Pellini (No. 38)

Gensler: Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins (No. 25)

Gilead: John Martin (No. 44)

General Motors: Mary Barra (No. 53)

GoldieBlox: Debbie Sterling (No. 59)

Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin (No. 6)

Google DeepMind:Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman (No. 70)

Hollwich Kushner and Architizer: Marc Kushner and Matthias Hollwich (No. 54)

The Honest Company: Jessica Alba (No. 99)

Human Longetivity Inc.: Craig Venter (No. 91)

IBM Watson: IBM Watson team (No. 48)

IEX Group:Brad Katsuyama (No. 92)

IKEA:Peter Agnefjäll (No. 34)

Illumina: Jay Flatley (No. 35)

IndiGo: Rahul Bhatia (No. 40)

Intidex: Amancio Ortega (No. 72)

Jolt Athletics: Ben Harvatine and Jonathan Lin (No. 94)

Khan Academy: Salman Khan (No. 8)

Kickstarter: Yancey Stricker (No. 21)

Lego Group:Jørgen Vig Knudstorp (No. 79)

LinkedIn and Greylock Partners: Reid Hoffman (No. 78)

M-Kopa: Jesse Moore (No. 27)

Microsoft: Satya Nadella (No. 52)

MOBY Group: Saad Mohseni (No. 43)

Modern Meadow: Andras Forgacs (No. 100)

Momofuku Group: David Chang (No. 68)

Netflix: Reed Hastings (No. 28)

New Belgium Brewing Company: Kim Jordan (No. 12)

Novozymes: Peder Holk Nielsen (No. 13)

Oculus VR: Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe (No. 83)

Opower: Alex Laskey and Daniel Yates (No. 19) 

Panera Bread: Ron Shaich (No. 60)

Patagonia: Rose Marcario (No. 17)

Revolution Foods: Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey (No. 16)

S'well: Sarah Kauss (No. 49)

Salesforce: Marc Benioff (No. 4)

Sanivation: Andrew Foote and Emily Woods (No. 55)

Serum Institute of India: Cyrus Poonawalla (No. 14)

Slack: Stewart Butterfield (No. 85)

Snapchat: Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (No. 80) 

Social Capital:Chamath Palihapitiya (No. 58)

SoFi: Mike Cagney (No. 81)

Spanx: Sara Blakely (No. 61)

Sphero: Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson (No. 74)

Spotify: Danny Ek and Martin Lorentzon (No. 86)

Starbucks: Howard Schultz (No. 2)

Stine Seed: Harry Stine (No. 66)

Stratasys: David Reis (No. 98)

Tencent Holdings: Ma Huateng (No. 76)

Tesla and Space X: Elon Musk (No. 7)

Toms: Blake Mycoskie (No. 11)

Tory Burch: Tory Burch (No. 87)

Tudor Investment Corporation, The Robin Hood Foundation, and Just Capital: Paul Tudor Jones (No. 9)

Uber: Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp (No. 69)

Udemy: Eren Bali and Dennis Yang (No. 73)

Under Armour: Kevin Plank (No. 67)

Unilever: Paul Polman (No. 10)

Union Square Hospitality Group:Danny Meyer (No. 46)

Virgin Group: Richard Branson (No. 31)

Vodafone: Michael Joseph (No. 3)

Volvo:Håkan Samuelsson (No. 75)

Warby Parker: Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa (No. 15)

Whole Foods: John Mackey and Walter Robb (No. 51)

Xiaomi: Lei Jun (No. 47)

Zocdoc:Oliver Kharraz (No. 90)

SEE ALSO: Business Insider 100: The Creators

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Here's how long it usually takes couples to get pregnant



Many women in their 20s and 30s assume that they can get pregnant whenever they want. And so, when the time is right and they decide to start trying for a baby, they typically figure that they'll get pregnant right away.

But in reality, most couples don't conceive immediately after they start trying, according to Dr. Shruti Malik from Shady Grove Fertility in Virginia.

"Most couples will conceive in about six months or less," Malik told INSIDER. "So it's interesting, because I have a lot of patients who spent a good portion of their adolescence trying to prevent pregnancy, and then later find out that it's more difficult than one would necessarily presume."

The fertility expert explained that couples who have no history of infertility, and are having regular unprotected sex, have a 15% to 20% chance of conceiving per cycle.

"So if you were to consider all of those, if you have six cycles of doing that, most couples will conceive in that six-month window," Malik said.

However, if a couple has been having regular unprotected intercourse without getting pregnant for 12 months, it is recommended that they either seek a fertility consultation to get more information, or consider treatment for possible infertility.

"If she has not conceived in that window, there is a higher likelihood that there may be other factors that are contributing to that couple's difficulty in conceiving. And at that point in time, it warrants seeing a physician or fertility specialist," Malik explained.

SEE ALSO: Happy, lasting relationships rely on something way more important than marriage

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16 incredible destinations in Asia that tourists don't know about yet


similan islands thailandFrom islands and beaches to towns and villages, Asia hosts various stunning destinations that haven’t been overtaken by tourists.

While some of these locations are remote, others are hidden gems often overlooked by tourists. 

For those in search of the best spots to visit in Asia away from the masses, we’ve rounded up 16 breathtaking destinations that range from hidden beaches and charming fishing villages to jungle-clad islands. 

SEE ALSO: The 25 best waterfront cities to visit in your lifetime

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At Japan’s Iriomote Island, you’ll feel as though you have an entire jungle to yourself. Nearly 90% of the largely undeveloped island is blanketed with dense jungle terrain and mangrove forests, offering travelers incredible scenery. Head to one of its beaches for prime scuba diving or tour the island's lush setting by boat.

Underwater enthusiasts often head to the sparsely populated Raja Ampat Islands, which are located on the tip of West Papua, Indonesia, in the heart of the Coran Triangle. The islands host three-quarters of the world’s coral varieties, and include a setting of jungles, white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons, and thrilling caves.

Head into Champasak in Laos and you’ll see remnants of the kingdom that used to be here through the colonial buildings that remain. With a variety of accommodations and attractions like the nearby Angkor-period ruins of Wat Phu Champasak, it makes a nice alternatively to the crowded city of Pakse.

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