Venmo Users: Set Your Accounts To Private And Do It Now!

Venmo Users: Set Your Accounts To Private And Do It Now!


I’ve written about this a million times, and people are still letting everyone see all the details of their Venmo transactions.


For example, I can see that …

  • Somebody I barely know paid for a chicken sandwich for his friend who forgot his wallet
  • I can see that one of my neighbors is paying for her kid’s tutor
  • I can see people paying for babysitters
  • Teacher’s gifts
  • Sunscreen
  • A kale salad with beans
  • Somebody I know thru work treated somebody with a Starbucks for their extra hard work
  • Hairdresser got paid by Venmo

Nothing horrible here but it feels weird to see people’s private lives exposed in public. I’m not quite sure whether you see all your contacts or only facebook friends who also happen to be Venmo users, but it’s a lot of people in your peripheral network. Venmo makes it sound so cool to see what your family and friends are doing, but what you see is way more invasive. For example, a while back, I saw a very casual friend’s weekly payments for a hook-up. I didn’t need to know that much about him.


Here’s how you make the switch to private:

  • Go on your Venmo
  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Privacy and then click on Private.
  • Additionally, click on “past transactions” and switch them to private as well.

And here’s why you should do it per

  • Venmo, which has 40 million monthly active users, makes transaction details public by default. This includes usernames, full names, profile pictures, recipient information, and more.
  • Venmo has stated it keeps the transaction history public by default because it treats them as a social activity. “People open up Venmo to see what their family and friends are up to,” it said last year.
  • But the PayPal-owned company has done precious little to prevent scenarios that could result in the potential abuse of the public API to scrape users’ transaction details.

And that’s it for today’s PSA! You’re welcome!

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Serum Products Are All The Rage. But Why? They’re So Icky.

Serum Products Are All The Rage. But Why? They’re So Icky.


I read all the rave reviews about the new L’Oreal Revitalift – it’s flying off the shelves, it’s out of stock at Ulta. One bottle is sold every 60 seconds in the United States.


I finally ordered it. It is a serum product, and right off the bat, I am not a fan. First, I don’t like its texture and how sticky it makes my skin feel (although this one is way better than other serum products I’ve recently tried, e.g., Korres is super greasy). Second, I’m opposed to the idea of needing two products. L’Oreal doesn’t insist you use it with a moisturizer, but they strongly insinuate it would be a good idea.

I’ve been using it for over a week, and my experience isn’t as over-the-top amazing as reviews suggest it should be, e.g., “This product blew me away. I have tried so many products before, and nothing worked. This Hyaluronic Acid is amazing and reduced my under-eye fine lines in LESS THAN ONE WEEK!”

I will not be reordering Revitalift. And if you’re wondering why I’ve been using all of these serum products when I don’t like them, it’s because I have a few friends in the biz who, for competitive research, buy every new product that’s on the market. And every few months, I get very lucky and am gifted a bag of beauty products they no longer need. I’ve discovered some fabulous products, but the serums are not my thing.

After running into so many gung-ho reviews, however, I had to do some research. While I haven’t uncovered any statistics, sales are booming, and new products are being introduced weekly. Serums have been around forever, but they seem to have gotten their recent kickstart through K-Beauty where serums have become one of the most buzzed-about trends.

Elle also just ran an article on “20 reasons why you need to introduce a serum into your life.”

  • They feature 20 brands (mostly advertisers) including Lancome, Clinique, and La Mer, along with several boutique brands, e.g., 111Skin for $800.

Google Trends indicates top face serum searches are for Strivectin with CBD serums coming on strong.

The newest serum trend coming out of K-Beauty is Double Serum.

  • One of the double serum brands to check out is Sweet Chef (pic above top left). All the serums are made so that you can cocktail them, layer them, and play with them!!


And finally, read on below for a recap of a very well-researched piece from the dermatology department at Harvard Medical School on skin serum and what it can, and can’t do for you. If this is a topic you’ve been curious about, it’s worth reading in its entirety here.

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Nicolas Cole Was My Inspiration This Week.

Nicolas Cole Was My Inspiration This Week.


Have any of you ever heard of Nicolas Cole? I hadn’t. But if you want to dial up your social media game, you’ve got to check him out (links below).


I stumbled across him on Ladders. They published an article by him entitled “The 1 Painfully Obvious Reason Nobody Follows You On Social Media.” Reading it was a wake-up call, like having cold water tossed in my face.

But, kudos to him for being such a compelling writer. Both his message and his backstory are incredibly powerful.

What became apparent to me in reading his article was how much more value I need to provide to my readers to get the engagement I want. I need to seriously up my game if I want to write more insightful, useful articles.

Cole claims 99 percent of people don’t put in the necessary effort. I thought I did, but in reading how he got his start, I see that my effort can stand improvement.

For example, here are the lengths he went to in order to establish himself as a writer:

  • When he was in his early 20’s, he was writing on Quora. He soon realized that Quora had columns with all the major publications.
  • He studied what each publication liked to republish from Quora, specifically the topics, the headlines, and the way they seemed to want the content written. And then he replicated it.
  • He created formulas for himself that matched the style guide of each publication. Then, he would write an Answer on Quora (to someone else’s Question) formatted the same way an article would appear on Inc. or Forbes, or Business Insider.
  • That’s a lot of effort, but it paid off.
  • Every single publication republished his work – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s the link to his Ladders article on why nobody follows you on social media.

  • For those of us on Instagram, he includes tips on photography as well as how to write persuasive first and second paragraphs. His perspective on hashtags is worth considering, as well (hint: he’s not into using a million of them just because you can).
  • He also offers excellent insights on how many social media platforms you actually need to be on. I was surprised that he has a relatively small following on twitter (7.5K) but 51K on Instagram and 42K on Medium.
  • His biggest tip for writers: get on Quora. That’s the platform that has been his secret sauce. For example, even after he got millions of readers from being republished by major news sources, he doubled down on his commitment to Quora.


It’s also worthwhile checking out the Nicolas Cole site itself – two links in particular. Read on below.

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How Many Steps Should We Be Trying To Get In Daily?

How Many Steps Should We Be Trying To Get In Daily?


First of all, do you know where the 10,000 step a day regimen came from? No? Read on below; it’s pretty funny.


My goal recently has been to get in 12,000 steps daily, which I read is ideal for good health. But I am not reaching that number. I am lucky to rack up 10,000 steps a few times a week.

For 2019, my daily average has only been 6061 steps versus 7834 per day in 2018. This is a result of spending an additional day a week sitting at my desk writing. Fortunately, I do get to the gym every day for a one-hour workout.

Now, however, a new 4-year study of 17,000 women (ages 62-101!) from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that the sweet spot for optimal health is between 4,400 and 7,500 steps daily. The danger zone is anything below 2,700 steps. Drop below that number and your risk of early death increases by 40 percent.

They don’t give you any indication of how the findings vary for a younger age group, e.g., women in their 40’s or for men.

But one thing is certain according to the press release, hitting 10,000 daily steps isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And here’s a fun fact: The 10,000-steps phenomenon became popular as a result of a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer that was invented in 1965, called Manpo-kei (which translates to 10,000-step meter).


Bottom Line.

Despite “10,000 steps” being more of a marketing ploy than science, I am still a believer.

P.S. Happy to report that yesterday (Friday) I got in 11,849 steps!

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Food Allergy Poseurs Need To Stop. They’re Driving Me Crazy!

Food Allergy Poseurs Need To Stop. They’re Driving Me Crazy!


One in 10 Americans have food allergies, but twice as many claim to have them based on a recent study of 40,000 people. What’s up with that?


The place I work goes overboard in asking people about their allergies. It drives me nuts.

This past week I was working at a communal table and overheard somebody ordering the crunchy Asian green salad. It happens to be my favorite, so my ears perked up. The menu describes the dish in detail. It contains cabbage, cashews, carrots, and a ponzu dressing.

My tablemate placed her order and returned to her laptop. That’s when the server asked the obligatory “any allergies?” All of a sudden, she developed an allergy to cabbage and cashews, basically the whole salad. When he asked if they should make a traditional salad for her, she waited a minute and then added she was also allergic to tomatoes. Why not just ask for a green salad with that terrific ponzu dressing – that was clearly the only reason she ordered the Asian green salad.

I may be all wrong about this, but for a specific subset of the population, instead of saying they don’t like a particular food, they feel more comfortable claiming to have an allergy.

I hear fewer guys profess to have allergies – they’ll just come out and request a menu substitution, e.g., “hold the mushrooms.” The women I run into here, all have allergies. I’m starting to feel that an allergy makes you special; it gives you a certain kind of VIP status.

I did some research on this and found an insightful piece in that sheds some light on why people feign allergies.

  • Sometimes, it’s to avoid stuff they don’t like.
  • In some instances, they have a food intolerance (not an allergy).
  • In many cases, they’re trying to lose weight and find claiming an allergy is a more socially acceptable reason to avoid eating certain items (since people will take a supposed medical condition more seriously than a weight-loss diet).


Bottom Line.

Judging by where I work, I would have to believe that three-quarters of the young women in NYC have food allergies. I think that’s absurd.

Or as somebody recently noted, 5000 years of eating bread and in the past decade, everyone is allergic to gluten.

All the evidence I can find indicates the growth in the category is mostly marketing driven. As noted in a recent  “Global Food Allergy Market” report for 2018-2025,  “rising awareness about food allergies, the high unmet needs coupled with novel product introduction in the market are  factors contributing to the growth of the market in the near future.”

I would say that’s 100% correct.

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The Queen Of The Internet Has Spoken

The Queen Of The Internet Has Spoken


I consider this essential reading whether you’re a data nerd, an investor, or someone just curious about where the world is headed.


If you have not yet scrolled through Mary Meeker’s newest 333-page Internet Trends Report, I’ve got an abridged version for you (24 slides).

It’s the most highly anticipated trend deck for Silicon Valley and was presented at the Code Conference on June 11th.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Mary Meeker, she is a highly respected internet analyst who has been publishing this report since 1995 just as Amazon launched and Google was still being dabbled with by two students in a Stanford dorm room. The earliest example I found of using her work is 2008 so I have been fangirling her for over ten years.

The tenor of this year’s report is a bit somber. More of us than ever are online (51% of the global population) but people are becoming increasingly siloed, which is reinforcing our most extreme differences.

Growth is slowing, and there seem to be fewer fun, exciting things on the horizon for consumers. It’s all about data and AI now. The bloom is off the rose on so many aspects of tech and the internet. Interestingly, we are somewhat less freaked out about privacy, but more of us are consciously dialing back the time we spend online.

The report also delves into the on-demand economy, tech startups around the world but especially in Asia, e-commerce and programmatic advertising,  trends in education and health care, and the growth of online gaming which Reed Hastings of Netflix has said is his biggest competitor (especially Fortnite with its 250 million gamers).

My biggest personal surprises were how important YouTube is to consumers both as a learning tool and for where they get their news, the pervasiveness (still!) of Facebook, and the growing role of voice vs. video (great news for all my podcaster friends).


Scroll down for my key takeaways from Mary’s report. I have also included a link to the entire deck at the end. 1000% worth checking out.

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Are Music Festivals The New Fashion Runways?

Are Music Festivals The New Fashion Runways?


“We did our first Revolve festival at Coachella several years ago. It’s the new fashion show for millennial consumers.”   Jesse Timmermans, CFO Revolve.


Coachella has influenced not only popular online retailers like Revolve but also luxury brands like Balmain.

WWD has been covering festival fashion for years, but this is the first time I’ve heard festival dressing called “the new runway.” And, of course, it is. Brilliant call!

Revolve started their Coachella activations as a house party with a few influencer friends back in 2013. It’s now become one of the most sought after invites during Coachella week. Revolve works with the biggest names in social media from fashion blogger Aimee Song (5.3 million Instagram followers) to Kendall Jenner (112 million followers).

Revolve itself has 3.1M followers on Instagram, and their #RevolveFestival has 39K followers. The company made a splash when it IPO’d earlier this month. The stock soared because this was considered the hottest Instagram fashion brand. But don’t get too excited it’s still apparel after all.

Balmain, following in Revolve’s “music festival as runway” footsteps, also just announced, per WWD, that they’ll be doing their men’s spring 2020 collection as part of the Fête de la Musique, an annual all-night musical celebration taking place in the streets of Paris on June 21 to coincide with Paris Men’s Week.

Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing often cites music as a key inspiration in his creative process. After wardrobing Beyoncé and Rihanna for Coachella, he dressed French DJ Gesaffelstein in a custom-made Balmain suit for his performance at the festival this April (photo above, lower middle).

Expect more brands to follow. I’d especially keep an eye on Gucci and Vuitton.


Bottom Line.

I’m intrigued by this move away from traditional fashion shows. They cost an arm and a leg to produce, and I’m not sure if they ultimately deliver.

It’s exciting to see this new generation of designers shake things up in the staid, old world of fashion. The biggest disruptors will be the edgier streetwear designers now ascending the luxury ranks (e.g., Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton).

Exciting times ahead. Hopefully, profitable as well!

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Luxury Home Sales Are Hurting. Why? Not Enough Billionaires.

Luxury Home Sales Are Hurting. Why? Not Enough Billionaires.


Millionaires are now a dime a dozen, but the number of billionaires is dropping. As of 2018, there were 2,604 billionaires in the world – not enough to support all the super-luxury condos and mansions being built.


Even Bernie Sanders, who has made a career out of bashing the wealthy is a millionaire. Since he started running for president in 2015, his wealth has tripled. He also owns three homes (two in Vermont and one in DC).

Per The Real Deal, the super-luxury market is soft, and it’s not about to get any better. It now takes twice as long to get a deal done. Luxury housing sales were down 3.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019, while days on the market rose 23.5 percent.

In Los Angeles, 50 ultra-high-end spec houses developed in posh neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, and Brentwood, are languishing because there aren’t enough ultra-wealthy buyers. Price chops of $100 million are the new norm. (Source: Business Insider)


Millionaires vs. Billionaires

There are 11 million millionaire households in the U.S., i.e., approximately 8 percent of U.S. households.

  • The United States added 700,000 new millionaire households in 2017 (up 6 percent from 2016), according to a new report from the Spectrem Group.
  • 172,000 households have a net worth higher than $25 million (i.e., less than .01 percent of households).
  • The jump in millionaires came from rising stock prices and increased housing prices.
  • The number of millionaires has almost doubled since 2009 when there were 6 million millionaire households.
  • Spectrem defines a millionaire as someone who has at least $1 million in investable assets, not including their primary residence.

Globally, there are 36 million millionaires — a 170% jump in total numbers from the year 2000. Together, these millionaires hold as much wealth as 46% of the population according to Credit Suisse’s new Global Wealth Report 2017.

The number of billionaires around the world is dropping, according to the research firm Wealth-X – one of the reasons we have this glut of luxury housing sitting on the market for years at a time.

  • Globally, the number of billionaires dropped 5.4 percent to 2,604
  • The number of billionaires in Asia dropped 13 percent to 677 in 2018
  • The number of billionaires in the U.S. grew 3.7 percent to 705, thanks to a strong U.S. dollar, interest-rate hikes, and tax reform
  • Fifteen cities were home to 30 percent of the world’s billionaires in 2018 — including New York, with 105.
  • Interestingly, the Nordic countries, on a per capita basis, have the most billionaires vs. the U.S.


Bottom Line.

There’s way too much luxury housing being built for the number of multi-millionaires who can afford to buy it.

In NYC, for example, the number of condos with at least 1,000 square feet, and priced under $1.5 million, is minuscule. And yet, for households with good jobs, there is no inventory in this relatively affordable price range. The number of people who can afford $2 million and up apartments (along with the accompanying carrying charges) is tiny.

Time for developers to get real! They’re killing the goose that laid the golden eggs by focusing solely on condos priced in the millions. Even billionaires are not going to want to live in NYC, if everyone is leaving because it’s too expensive.


Scroll down for some of the top luxury real estate purchases in NYC over the last 12 months. And note while these crazy deals give developers hope, they are anomalies. They do not portend a market shift to the ultra high end.

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