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This Common Speaking Habit Is Draining All Your Negotiating Power

“John – we are receiving some feedback about the team and their presentation style. In particular we get comments about the inflection of their voice going up at the end. Can you work on this with folks on the team?”

Uncertain Language vs. Command Language 

This is something I see a lot. I call it “uncertain language,” vs. “command language.” Let me explain. The problem with using voice inflection at the end of a sentence when it is not a question is that it makes your statement sound like a question, even though it isn’t, and you come across as uncertain. That dramatically reduces the perception of your status and power.

Saying your statement isn’t a question isn’t the complete truth. Often, when your voice tone goes up at the end of a statement there is an implied question. It’s usually something like “do you agree?” “Am I being understandable?” “Are you okay with this?” “Can we just all get along?” or some desire for approval and connection. It can makes you sound like you’re uncertain, and/or lower status than you actually are. 

When you’re speaking; when you’re the host, or tour leader, or speaking to groups of people, your listeners want to believe that you know what you’re talking about. They like to know that you’re in charge and that you’ve got things handled. Going up at the end of your sentences robs you of that.

Lower, Slower and Louder

There is a discipline called Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Pseudo-science? Maybe so, but I’ll take things that work from wherever they may come. NLP has something to offer here.

One of the ways you can be more effective and persuasive is to begin consciously using embedded commands. Embedded commands allow you to make powerful suggestions by embedding them indirectly within longer statements.  One key step to doing this is making your voice subtly lower, slower and louder when you embed the command.

NLP calls this technique analog marking. In NLP analog communication is nonverbal communication, while words are referred to in NLP as digital communication. Analog communication goes back to our earliest communication; pre-language communication. Sound and movement. 

When you use analog marking to communicate some part of what you’re saying, the unconscious mind notices and understands your communication differently than the conscious mind does. And, when you use sounds and movement the unconscious mind pays special attention. Body language, movement, voice tone, volume, speed and so on. And, you’re always using analog marking. The question I ask myself is whether it’s supporting my message, or my insecurity.

Commands vs Questions

The difference between “you’re going now.” and “you’re going now?” is pretty obvious. What is less obvious is that when you go up at the end of something you do not intend to be a question it sends a very strong signal to the unconscious mind of the listener and has as big an impact on your credibility as the question mark vs. the period has in the sentences above.

Here are a few examples of embedded commands.

  • “I’m here to talk with you and I want you to feel good about yourself”- I might mark “feel good” by saying it slightly louder, slower and with a downward pitch to my voice.
  • “You definitely don’t have to accept what I’m saying if you don’t want to.” “Accept what I’m saying” could be marked by making an open hand gesture.
  • “Would you tell me your story sometime?” I could mark “tell me your story” with a subtle body movement closer to the person. 

To be effective your statements must be statements, not questions. We understand a rising tone at the end of a sentence to be the marker of a question. Going up at the end of a non-question sentence sends the message that you have a question. If the sentence isn’t actually a question then the non-language message is still that there is a question, and it becomes a question about your credibility, or status or knowledge, or some other factor that you don’t intend to call into question!  

The Bottom Line

A question has a rising tone; the inflection goes up at the end of the sentence. A statement has no change in inflection at the end; it is flat. And, a command (this can be a subtle command) goes down at the end of the sentence; it has a downward inflection at the end. And, command language is very powerful. Going down at the end of your sentences gives them extra impact. You can’t do it all the time or you’ll sound silly, but if you take on speaking in command language you will avoid unsure language. And, that will have you sounding more powerful everywhere in your life. 


Uniti Group: I Just Bought Shares Of This 16% Yielder

I take a lot of pride in the fact that my portfolio has never experienced a dividend cut. I came close once with KMI, but I managed to sell the position before the cut was announced. I spend a lot of my time during the due diligence process focusing on dividend-related metrics with a specific focus on sustainability and dividend growth prospects. Well, I just put that perfect record at risk with a purchase of Uniti Group (UNIT) shares at $ 15.01, or a very hefty 15.98% yield.

This ~16% yield is nearly double my previously high yield, which was Omega Healthcare Inc (OHI) at just a tad bit more than 8%. Typically, when I see yields in the double digits, I get nervous. Yields that high mean the asset is distressed. When looking at stocks like UNIT investors are receiving a very high potential reward for exposing themselves to a very high perceived risk. I’m not a huge fan of making these risky bets. But, I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles and commentary about UNIT published over the last couple of weeks focused on the company’s enormous ~40% fall since the start of August. I’ve read enough bullish commentary to get me interested in the stock, especially from contributors here at Seeking Alpha that I’ve come to respect over the years.

Honestly, I think this company’s recent drama has been exhausted by the Seeking Alpha community and I don’t have anything new to add to the conversation other than the fact that I am now long the stock. I like to keep followers up to date on my recent portfolio maneuvers though, so I wanted to write this piece. However, instead of re-hash the pros and cons of UNIT ownership here, I will link you to some of my favorite articles recently published regarding UNIT.

My absolute favorite REIT contributor here at Seeking Alpha is Brad Thomas. Mr. Thomas has led me to highly profitable investment decisions on several occasions. I respect his opinion in the REIT space above all others. In late August/early September, he published two bullish pieces on UNIT (when shares were trading at levels much higher than they are today). One of them remains behind SA’s Marketplace paywall, but another is free to the public. Here’s a link to Mr. Thomas’s most recent UNIT piece which includes an informative interview with UNIT’s CEO Kenny Gunderson and a reiteration of Mr. Thomas’ “BUY” rating on shares post Q2 results.

Another UNIT piece that really caught my eye was Dividend Sensei’s recent article explaining why he’s adding to his UNIT stake, making it his largest individual position. I really like Dividend Sensei’s work here at SA. He puts together a very in-depth analysis that is also easy to understand. I admit that I am much more risk-averse than he seems to be. He trades with margin and oftentimes seeks much higher yields than I do. I would never allow a company like UNIT to become my largest holding. Actually, I don’t imagine a future where UNIT ever makes up more than 1% of my overall portfolio (right now, it’s weighting is ~0.375%). Even so, I oftentimes find is opinions to be more than reasonable and while our portfolio management strategies aren’t the same (which is to be expected because no two people are in the same situation when it comes to personal finance and long-term financial goals), I still respect his opinion immensely.

I’ll talk more about this piece in a bit, but Ian Bezek’s recent article on the matter was valuable to me as well, especially in terms of trying to put this company’s potential risks into perspective against what seems to be an overly bullish consensus amongst SA contributors and readers, mainly, I think, because of UNIT’s incredibly high yield. Ian is long UNIT, although as of his latest piece, he hadn’t added to his position on more recent weakness. I think Ian has a keen eye for value and the fact that he too was long, played a role in my decision-making.

Alpha Gen Capital wrote a particularly bullish piece, hinting at the fact that UNIT could be one of the year’s best opportunities due to recent overreactions in the share price movement. This piece really breaks down the issues that UNIT is facing with WIN, some of the potential fallouts of legal/bankruptcy scenarios. All of this is very confusing and remains highly speculative, though my main takeaway is that it appears likely that, regardless of a WIN bankruptcy, UNIT will still be in a position of strength due to the Master Lease arrangement it has with WIN. Lease re-negotiation still appears to be a possible scenario here, which would change the landscape that UNIT operates in the present, but for the time being, I’m willing to trust in the payments from the Master Lease deal and rely on the strength of UNIT’s infrastructure, which should remain in demand moving forward.

And most recently, Beyond Saving and Dane Bowler have written pieces regarding the breaking news that broke this week surrounding more legal/head fund issues regarding WIN bonds defaulting. The comment streams following all of these pieces have been enlightening. There are bulls and bears on either side of the aisle, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that another one of my favorite SA REIT contributors, Bill Stoller, recently went long UNIT as well. As far as I know, Mr. Stroller hasn’t published an article focused on UNIT, but I’ve seen him make enough solid calls in the past to give weight to his recent purchase in my own decision-making process.

So, there you have it. This is a unique situation for me, investing in a speculative income play like this. I may not like to take big risks like this, but I have always said that I like to buy things when they’re cheap. At this point, I admit that UNIT could just as easily turn out to be a value trap as it could a tremendous value. Looking at the value of the company’s assets and its cash flow potential, I see validity in calls that have price targets in the $ 35-40 range. That would imply massive upside at today’s prices. Due to issues that UNIT faces with its over-reliance on distressed Windstream (WIN), I don’t foresee UNIT selling anywhere near the fair value of its parts anytime soon though, so their estimates really amount to a hill of beans.

There are so many rumors and potentially headwinds swirling around this stock that I think it’s nearly impossible to predict its future share price movements. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a short squeeze that sends the stock rocketing up to $ 20 or more tomorrow. I also wouldn’t be surprised to continued pressure on shares, sending them down into the single digits. I won’t attempt to signal any sort of direction of these shares; simply put, I acknowledge that I am speculating here.

This is why I bought a relatively small, ¼ position. I bought these shares because of the combined upside potential of the shares in a turnaround as well as the very high ~16% dividend yield. Right now, it appears that UNIT’s dividend is covered by AFFO, which management expects to come in somewhere in the $ 2.50 range in 2017. This is a good thing. However, as discussed at length in this article by Ian Bezek, a dividend cut may still be in the cards because without one, it will be very difficult for UNIT to raise cash.

UNIT needs to raise cash over time to continue to diversify itself away from WIN. Right now, WIN makes up ~70% of the company’s business. Management has stated plans to get this ratio down to ~50% in the short-term; however, this transformation will require additional acquisitions and I think it’s ludicrous to think that UNIT management will be able to find investments with cap rates that exceed its current dividend yield.

Because of this scenario, one could argue that a dividend cut for UNIT would actually be a good thing for the long-term. It might enable it to continue to diversify away from WIN exposure and grow its asset base. Michael Boyd wrote an article focused on this possibility today. This general point was that a distribution cut for UNIT is the right move for management to make. Once again, in the comment section, there are members on both sides of the fence of this issue. There are many question marks when it comes to UNIT in the present, but the one thing that is clear is that the company’s 16% has surely caught the eye on SA’s dividend and income community.

My portfolio’s rule regarding dividend cuts is cut and dry. A cut equals a sell, without exception. Well, being that an investment in UNIT breaks just about half of my stock screening rules anyway, I will be in wait and see mode if UNIT should slash its dividend. This is a small enough position for me that in the event of sudden weakness, it won’t do significant damage to my portfolio’s overall returns. On the flip side of this coin, UNIT’s yield is high enough to move the needle a bit in terms of my annual income expectations. Due to its extremely high yield, this ¼ position in UNIT is currently scheduled to generate the same amount of income as a typical full position with a “normal” yield for my portfolio would over a year in just a couple of quarters (my portfolio’s overall yield is just a tad above 2%).

Investing in distressed assets has led to riches for investors throughout the history. It has also lead to ruins. I’m not saying that I’m smart enough to pick and choose the winners, but I have seen enough bullish opinions from well-respected analysts/contributors to inspire me to make a small bet on UNIT. I don’t think these shares are for the faint of heart. There are so many rumors flying around regarding WIN that attempting to trade in and out of UNIT on a daily basis seems to be a fool’s errand as well. I plan on stashing the small position of UNIT shares that I bought at $ 15 away and accepting the income that they generate for my portfolio, whatever that may be. I bought one day before UNIT went ex-dividend, meaning that I’ve already captured one $ 0.60 payment. I don’t know how many more investors can expect at this level, but if management is able to maintain the dividend, I expect to do quite well here.

Although I realize that I may end up having to stay in this name for awhile depending on what happens moving forward, I don’t think this is a buy and forget type of stock. It’s both a speculative income play as well as a turnaround play. If it turns around, I think it will turn around quickly. I will continue to monitor the business and management’s attempt at diversifying its customer base. If management cuts the dividend I’m sure the share price will suffer and at that point I’ll be in it for the long-haul, hoping for a Kinder Morgan-like recovery post dividend cut. If the market receives better than expected news out of WIN and UNIT bounces drastically, I will be happy to sell my shares, taking my profits large short-term profits (these shares are held in a tax-advantaged account so that I don’t pay taxes on that hefty dividend).

Disclosure: I am/we are long UNIT, OHI.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


This Time It Matters: Why Apple Is Falling

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is dropping hard after its event to announce the new series of hardware, in particular the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X as well as the Apple Watch 3.

It’s Different This Time
Normally when Apple stock dives on lukewarm product reviews we stand firmly in our position that the stock market reaction is over blown. Our simple thesis for that response is to look at demand, which is hypnotically strong, every time. That is not the case this time.

A New Risk is Not Obvious But is Enormous
Apple announced a more complicated lineup of iPhones this time around. It introduced the iPhone 8 series which is an upgrade to the iPhone 7, and then it announced the highly anticipated iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten).

Then the company made the iPhone 8 available this month, but pushed delivery of iPhone X to early November, which pre-orders stating in late October. That has created a risk.

It turns out that Apple hyped the iPhone X so much, and poured so much new technology into it, that it has left the demand for iPhone 8 lackluster in Apple terms. Here’s what we mean.

If you go to the Apple Store, and try to purchase an iPhone 8, the wait time is essentially 1-3 days for the smaller memory version. Here is an image:

That is for the iPhone 8, in Los Angeles, on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) network. The other networks are essentially the same. A normal wait time for a new iPhone release is usually several weeks, let’s say 2-4 depending on where you are in the world.

There are also reports that in store lines are much smaller than before, with one report pinpointing Sydney Australia, where only 30 people were camped out for the new release. Reports from China are similar.

Here are links to two stories:

Turnout for iPhone 8 Launch in Australia “Bleak” as Customers Hold Out for Upcoming iPhone X
The iPhone 8 launch in Sydney saw “a bleak turnout,” reports Reuters, with fewer than 30 people lining up outside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street. In past years, hundreds of people have lined up for new iPhones on release day.

Apple Falls After Analyst Report Indicates Weak iPhone 8 Demand
Consumers pre-ordered about 1.5 million handsets on Chinese retail website JD.com in the first three days, compared with about 3.5 million for the comparable period of iPhone 7 orders.

Tim Cook just said he “couldn’t be happier” with the iPhone release (and Apple Watch 3). While sales are lower than prior models, there is one reason, a big reason, that he may actually be telling the truth.

Is There a Plan?
One of the headlines that surfaced from the Apple Event was that the iPhone X was very expensive, starting at $ 999 and climbing to $ 1,200 based on the configuration.

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Apple decided to release the iPhone 8 for less to make it appear that it was not forcing Apple loyalists to buy a far more expensive phone by offering a reduced priced new model (iPhone 8).

In fact, it does appear that even in the bearish analyst notes, each tends to comment on the fact that demand reduction for the iPhone 8 is simply a reflection of the outsized demand for the iPhone X.

If that’s true, then Apple will have an average selling price significantly higher than in prior times, and if demand is in fact to the point where Apple also sells more units, then that would bring a windfall of profits larger than any company has ever seen in one quarter. If that sound overly bullish, it’s just the choice of words — Apple already has the largest earnings ever in one quarter, so this would be a breaking of its own record — also known more simply as, “growth.”

Back to Risk
While there is a rather bullish narrative to wrap around this odd iPhone selection, there is also, in earnest this time, a reasonable bearish thesis.

Apple won’t be delivering its iPhone X until well into November, and if demand is very strong, it might not even be able to deliver before the holiday season in the United States. And while, certainly, if all of those sales simply occur later in the year (or early 2018), then that’s fine, but to consider that a foregone conclusion is a step we are not willing to take with blind faith.

Some consumers, perhaps many consumers, will not wait. And while Apple loyalists may stick around for a later date, the all-important “Android switchers” (those smartphone Android owners that switch to Apple) may not — and that is a real risk and worthy of a stock drop, until proven otherwise.

Apple’s market share in the United States is jumping as Android loses market share — an under reported but critical phenomenon. On January 11th, 2017, 9TO5Mac wrote iPhone market share grows 6.4% in USA, takes share from Android in most markets.

Apple gained 9.1% in the UK, mostly at the expense of Windows phones.

The iPhone grew its market share in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and USA, with Android seeing its own share drop in all of these countries bar Italy, where its growth was less than half that of iOS.

Those are Android switchers and Apple may have just put that group, or at least that trend, in serious jeopardy.

Now What?
We believe the iPhone X is going to be a knock-down drag-out mega hit, and the elevated price will make it yet an even larger success. But, the risk that Apple took, as of right now, is hurting the company both with iPhone 8 sales, and potentially, with Android switchers. And that is not a false narrative — it is accurate.

That risk means the stock should drop, and is dropping.

But, we’re not done yet. What we did not show you, and is easily missed unless you are really looking, is how hard Apple is focusing consumers on the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 — in our opinion.

I recorded a 45 second video arriving on the Apple Store and looking at iPhones. I have turned to video to allow you to make your own decision, as opposed to snapshots, which are too selective and an be used to weave any narrative the author likes.

When you watch this video (below), decide for yourself if you feel that Apple is purposefully pointing people to the iPhone X over the iPhone 8. Here we go:

[embedded content]

That’s hardly headline grabbing footage, but we found it noteworthy.

Apple Watch 3
There have been some pretty poor reviews of the Apple Watch 3 surrounding its LTE connectivity and its battery life. This is one of those times where the reviews are meaningless. Demand is strong and that’s all that matters.

Here is a snapshot from the Apple Store for that product:

We see the Watch becoming a runaway success as people learn to use that wearable device as a standalone product — leaving the phone at home on runs, meetings, swims, hikes, and whatever other times such a convenience could be desired.

We maintain our Top Pick status on Apple, but have certainly tempered our bullishness with an undeniable new risk. It might work out very well, but, it might not, and that is a new risk to Apple stock.

The author is long shares of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Thanks for reading, friends.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.


You Should See 'mother!' This Weekend (Even If You'll Hate It)

Look, we weren’t going to do this. As much as we like to put up a good fight for controversial, or even bad, bits of pop culture, getting into the fray over mother! seemed needlessly messy. Darren Aronofsky’s latest head-scratcher lit up Film Twitter over the weekend, starting one of those nerd-offs where everyone had to take a side, posit a theory, or offer up some snarky witticism. It was like watching a massively multiplayer online exegesis of a President Trump tweet or a Kanye West album, but somehow even more exhausting.

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But then something fascinating happened. The conversation turned to why it mattered that people were bickering about this movie in the first place. Was it because people didn’t know what they were buying a ticket for? Should Aronofsky been more forthcoming about the intentions of his film? His star Jennifer Lawrence thinks so. Should a big studio like Paramount Pictures have backed a movie like this? Paramount seems to think so. The studio’s head of marketing and distribution, Megan Colligan, even told The Hollywood Reporter, “We don’t want all movies to be safe. And it’s OK if some people don’t like it.”

Frankly, any movie that makes a studio stand up and say “Hey, you guys said you wanted original filmmaking, we’re trying to give it to you!” is the kind of movie we want to discuss. So we are. Below, mother!-lovers Brian Raftery and Angela Watercutter break down the brouhaha around the movie, and why it started all these arguments in the first place. (There are a few spoilers in this piece, obviously. You’ve been warned.)

Angela Watercutter: So obviously, I went on a wild goose chase to see this movie, so my my levels of Here for This were pretty high going in. But I gotta say, there were quite a few moments in the first hour of mother! where I was like “What is this? Moreover, do I like it?” Once it was over and I’d slept on it, though, I really loved it. There are still some things I take issue with, but I liked picking apart all of its myriad mysteries and I enjoyed that its allegories worked on multiple levels, commenting on religion, environmental issues, society’s treatment of women, and fame— amongst other things I probably haven’t even considered yet.

Then that “F” CinemaScore from audiences landed, kicked off a whole new wave of controversy. People who hated it felt vindicated; people who liked it felt the haters just didn’t “get” it. Blah, blah, blah. As I mentioned in the WIRED Culture Slack channel the other day, this movie is kind of made for film nerds and amateur theology students (and maybe even real theology majors, a la Aronofsky’s Pi felt that way).

I don’t say that to be like one of those “Oh, you just don’t get this movie” people. It’s not about understanding or not understanding mother!—I think it’s possible to grok what’s going on and still find it hard to connect with—it’s just about whether or not its themes speak to you. As a Catholic school survivor who writes about movies for a living, I liked it, but as I texted a friend the other day, it’s completely hateable, and I agree with Colligan that it’s fine if some people don’t like it.

I also tend to think that if your movie isn’t annoying anyone, then you’re doing it wrong. I liked what Sean Fennessey said at The Ringer this week about mother! being “the first freakout, the first emotional crisis at the movies in some time.” There’s value in pissing off the right people. What about you, Brian: What did you think of the backlash to the backlash to the backlash?

Brian Raftery: Not to play God here, Angela, but I do want to push back, just a bit, at the idea that mother! is somehow inaccessible to the non-nerds: I don’t think one has to grasp all of Aronofsky’s religious parallels in order to enjoy it (I only picked up on the biblical broad strokes, probably because I spent most of my CCD classes secretly reading copies of Mad). And I don’t believe you need a film degree to appreciate the movie’s pulpy, increasingly calamitous storytelling: As he did with Black Swan and The Wrestler, Aronofsky sticks to many of the rules of the genre—in this case, the home-invasion thriller—in order to sneak in some bigger ideas. There are plenty of fun (and even funny) creep-me-out scenes of mother!, especially in the first half, and the creaking wooden floors and wry, dark-hearted glares from Michelle Pfeiffer added to the spooky-ooky ambience.

Granted, in its last 45 minutes or so, the lovingly restored home at the center of mother! descends into a decline-of-civilization madhouse, full of worshippers and rioters, climaxing in a brutally audible death that likely sent more than a few viewers to the parking lot before the film was finished. It’s a disorienting third act, and I certainly felt ill-at-ease for much of it—but, yeesh, have we reached the point where discomfort so easily leads to disdain? The most interesting movies of 2017 have been the ones that made me feel a little queasy by the end—from the Safdie brothers’ Good Time to Janicza Bravo’s Lemon to Jordan Peele’s Get Out (perhaps the most unsettling mainstream crowd-pleaser since The Silence of the Lambs). I felt the same way about mother!—by the time it ended, I was relieved to be out of that world. But I didn’t regret making the visit.

And what makes the glib, look-at-the-big-bomb pile-on so strange is that we’re living in an era of WTF television, a time when occasionally baffling shows American Gods and Twin Peaks: The Return invite endless bits of online forensics and clue-hunts. Yet, for some reason, people find that same inscrutability to be a major turn-off to moviegoers, even though they were warned ahead of time (seriously, who looks at that gory, glazed-expression poster and expects Silver Linings Playbook?).

A movie like mother! deserves discussion and argument and, to be sure, plenty of criticism; it doesn’t deserve a CinemaScore that puts it on par with the likes of Fear Dot Com, nor does it warrant a “defense” from Paramount. The whole thing is kind of a bummer: In a year in which American audiences have been signaling the start of a stay-at-home resistance—ignoring the big franchise flicks, and refusing to allow new ones to flourish—along comes a big-star, big-studio movie that’s different than anything else out there. And the response seems to be: “Oof, no thanks.”

AW: One hundred percent. (Side note: Speaking of fantastic movies that made me feel really uneasy this year, everyone should see Raw.) I also wonder who went into this thinking it was just going to be Silver Linings Playbook, or even Noah, for that matter. Even though the promotional campaign was purposefully vague, that ambiguity should’ve tipped people off that something was going to go asunder. Leading up to the movie’s release, Aronofsky was adamant that people go into it blind; he wanted them to be able to decipher it for themselves. Lawrence wants people to know the allegory going in, lest they miss the movie’s brilliance. I honestly don’t know which is better. I went in knowing almost nothing because I wanted to, but I think I would’ve started picking up on clues earlier if I’d known what was going on. It’s fun to be able to decipher it for yourself—and encourages repeat viewings—but maybe a clue or two would’ve helped. That said, you’re right: we live in an era when endless reddit threads aim to decode Twin Peaks, so a complicated movie shouldn’t come across as a turn-off.

Speaking of, Brian, I’ve been asking everyone this: When did the metaphors click for you? When did it become obvious what Aronofsky was doing (or trying to do)? For me it was when Oldest Son (Domhnall Gleeson) killed Younger Brother (Brian Gleeson). That was the moment I really started getting into it, and I wonder if it’s one of those situations where it’s not enjoyable if the message doesn’t become obvious until the end. It’s a brutal film and I think if it didn’t have a larger point it would probably just feel like torture.

BR: As I mentioned before, the big-picture, Book of Genesis-indebted ideas weren’t always obvious to me (though, yep, the Cain and Abel allusions were pretty easy to spot). Instead, I was wrapped up in its hyper-cuckoo depiction of the way we destroy what we’re given—an ecologically minded message that feels especially relevant during Hurricane 2017—as well the more subtly layered notion of how our culture, and our world, treats women, especially famous women. The flashing camera lights, the just-let-me-touch-you mob-pleas, even the use of hacking victim Jennifer Lawrence—it all felt very much like a commentary on the way we construct, and then degrade, our own modern female icons.

But then again, maybe I’m the only person who felt that way—which is one of the reasons why mother! is such essential viewing: It says something different to each moviegoer, and lets you hear it in your own voice. I’m not a big fan of artists interpreting their work for others; I like ambiguity, and believe the best art can never be quote-unquote “solved.” So while I understand, from a marketing standpoint, why Lawrence pushes Aronofksy to explain mother! in that recent Times piece, part of me wishes they simply put it out and never talked about, and instead let the audience pull it apart for themselves.

AW: Oooh, that’s interesting. It would be interesting to see what would happen if they just never spoke about it, even if it’s a little too late for that now. But to go back to your earlier point about the movie’s commentary on the treatment of women, I read/heard from a few people who thought Lawrence was miscast, that the woman who played Katniss Everdeen couldn’t be that internal. But I think her celebrity added a smart layer. Jennifer Lawrence is America’s (and the internet’s) most universally liked movie star right now, but between her private photos being released on the internet and the Sony hack revealing she was making less than her male co-stars, she’s still experiences misogyny. And as a celebrity, every outfit she wears, every haircut she gets, and every joke she makes gets meticulously scrutinized. Having her be the person trying to protect herself from the prodding, “cunt”-calling masses in Aronofsky’s movie felt like a masterstroke. The only scene(s) that didn’t sit right with me were the ones where she is attacked verbally or physically—mostly because I just don’t like seeing women attacked across-the-board—but I understood the motivation. (When she went full Giving Tree at the end and lamented that she had nothing left, I felt that—and not just because I’ve always loved that book.) If it’s hard to watch, that’s because society’s treatment of women is hard to watch. mother! just makes it explicit.

BR: I thought Lawrence was fantastic, especially when you consider that Aronofsky frequently shoots her face in close-up; in the first half, when she’s trying hard to make nice with the loonies who have started gobbling up her home, she has to convey a lot of her frustration and disappointment with the slightest stares and quivers. It’s the kind of performance you almost want to revisit with the sound off, in order to better understand how it was crafted.

And indeed, the physical attacks on her in mother! were horrifying—even more so than That One Scene That Freaked Everyone Out. I don’t imagine making mother! was much fun for her, or for her director, but I’m glad they went through with it. This year may have been a bad one for blockbusters, but for those of us who crave grown-up movies that spur grown-up conversations, it’s been surprisingly solid: Get Out, Logan, Baby Driver, Wonder Woman, The Beguiled were all films that prompted viewers to walk straight from the theater to the diner, so they could hash out what they’d just seen. We need more gotta-talk-about-it movies like them, and like mother!—even if (especially if) those conversations require a few exclamation points.


Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Review: This Is Really Fun

I’m a hardcore sports fan. Quite honestly, I have a tough time playing video games that don’t involve hitting, throwing or catching a ball. The more realistic the better. It was difficult to accept that there wouldn’t be an official Rio 2016 video game like the ones we’re accustomed to getting every four years from Sega and other publishers.

Cloud Computing

Change this Netflix setting to use less data on mobile



Streaming Netflix on a smartphone isn’t a viable or sustainable option for many people. Data plans can cap you at a couple gigs or less, and getting in one more episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt just isn’t worth hiking up the price of your cellphone bill.

To help, Netflix announced a new feature Thursday allowing mobile users to more easily control and keep track of how much data is being used when they stream over a cellular network. You can choose between different stream quality settings that correspond to specific data-to-time ratios. Read more…

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Inside sales companies have raised only $150 million this year and may soon face consolidation

Image Credit: RIngDNA

With seven transactions totaling $ 150 million, including the $ 90 million financing for new unicorn Anaplan, the first two months of 2016 have been quiet on the funding front for inside sales. The future will tell us if it is a reflection of the overall technology slowdown, or if we have reached an investment peak that precedes industry consolidation.

Inside Sales Landscape

A high-resolution version of the VB Profiles Inside Sales landscape is available here. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative effort between VentureBeat and Spoke Intelligence.)


The $ 30 million funding from NewVoiceMedia is the largest financing from a pure-play Inside Sales Technology. This externally led round was smaller than the last one, which totaled $ 50 million. NewVoiceMedia scored a second big win with the addition of Moni Manor, former Five9 CTO, as chief product officer. With a total $ 140 million raised since inception, NewVoiceMedia has captured the market’s attention. Originally a Contact Center cloud software provider, NewVoiceMedia has expanded into the Inside Sales space by first repackaging its core technology and later by adding gamification capabilities.

Social Engagement received some attention with two small financings. Insightpool sits at the crossroads of Sales and Marketing, mining social networks to find influencers and prospects. Initially targeting the B2B market, it has been expanding its efforts to encompass B2C. Socedo is a pure-play sales company focused on lead generation on Twitter.

Although not an event of the previous month per se, I came to recognize the growing importance of coaching. You can expect it to become a dedicated category in the next iteration of my Inside Sales technology landscape.

Coaching importance grew because many of the inside sales roles are entry positions into the sales profession. It is also a way to address the high learning and growth expectations of younger generations. Inside Sales initial successes were fueled by email communication, which is text-based. As the market matured, companies have rediscovered the importance of engaging in-person with prospects. It hinges on good conversation skills that are best taught by coaching.

It is not a surprise that voice solution vendors have experienced strong customer demand for recording and coaching. RingDNA, for example, made it a central theme of its roadmap, introducing a Coaching module in its latest release. It departs from legacy recording offerings that target compliance by making sales behavior the focal point. We have also seen the emergence of pure-play providers such as ExecVision trying to innovate the market with a mobile application to make coaching on the go easier. Their vision is to make coaching pervasive in the organization by enabling anyone to listen to his/her calls and mark the important moments.

Nicolas De Kouchkovsky is the principal of CaCube Consulting. You can track his 340+ company Inside Sales Landscape on VBProfiles.com.



This airplane’s wings fold up so you can take it on your next camping trip



The ICON A5 bills itself as a plane for anyone and everyone: perfect for weekend camping trips, impressing a date, or just flying around New York City.

The experimental personal aviation market is not new: There’s the miniscule Flynano, the Terrafugia flying car and the eco-friendly Synergy. But the ICON A5 is unique in that its main selling point is its safety.

Instead of relying on “perfect pilots who can recover from emergency situations,” the ICON A5 developed “spin resistance.” This summer the aircraft earned received a Light Sport Aircraft airworthiness certificate from the FAA. Read more…

Flying for dummies

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Silicon Valley’s Hottest Startup Incubator Takes On This Indian Venture

Just one year ago, Indian e-coupon aggregator LafaLafa.com was barely a blip in the mind of, well, anyone. It’s been quite the year though – testament to the booming tech environment in India, they’re one of the privileged few to be on their way to be accelerated by one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startup incubators.

Cloud Computing

Bring your company’s ‘dark data’ to light with this free new tool from Tamr

All the analytics tools in the world won’t do a company much good if it doesn’t know what data it has to analyze. Tamr offers a free, downloadable tool designed to help tackle that “dark data” problem.

Dark data generally refers to all the information an organization collects, processes and stores but doesn’t use for analytics or other purposes. It’s often unstructured or qualitative data that’s harder to keep track of than numerical data is, and by research firm IDC’s reckoning, it can account for as much as 90 percent of an organization’s information assets.

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Bring your company’s ‘dark data’ to light with this free new tool from Tamr

All the analytics tools in the world won’t do a company much good if it doesn’t know what data it has to analyze. Tamr offers a free, downloadable tool designed to help tackle that “dark data” problem.

Dark data generally refers to all the information an organization collects, processes and stores but doesn’t use for analytics or other purposes. It’s often unstructured or qualitative data that’s harder to keep track of than numerical data is, and by research firm IDC’s reckoning, it can account for as much as 90 percent of an organization’s information assets.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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