All posts by Emily Binder

Emily Binder is a marketer who likes good copy, technology, and progress. Hobbies include chess, cooking, and rollerblading. University of Michigan alumna.

Six Lessons on Health and Happiness (Part 1)

2016 was a year that everyone (in my echo chamber) was happy to see end. I reflected for a month, and here are six takeaways regarding health, happiness, social life, and apps:

  1. There is usually no Ctrl+Shift+T for life, but you can always open a new tab.  Retweet.
    (Hasty clicker? This browser hotkey reopens the last closed tab. It’s Ctrl+Shift+T on Windows and Command+Shift+T on Mac OS X. Works in most browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Try Command+Z on Safari.)
  2. Deleting Facebook from my phone made me read more books and go to bed happier. You’ve read the studies, you know Facebook makes you sad. Why are you still spending hours on it? I’m not saying you should quit, and I know there are good reasons to use Facebook. But time is the most valuable thing you have. The ideas and stories you read/see influence your outlook and mood.
    Be discerning about what you let in. Add up all the hours you spent in 2016 letting Facebook wash over you with content chosen by its algorithm – not by you. Passive consumption can be dangerous (or at times, relaxing and perfectly okay). Bottom line: your time and attention are precious.
  3. Boxed wine is back/good. Black Box has a tasty Chilean cabernet and it’s an incredible value: you pay about $17 for the box, which contains four bottles. It’s award-winning wine that costs 40% less. It lasts six weeks in the fridge. You reduce your carbon footprint and the spigot harkens back to the jug of Gatorade at childhood soccer games. It’s hydration for adult sports that’s better for the planet and your wallet.

    Emily carrying boxed wine and groceries
    Arrive like this, get invited back.
  4. Track your steps and walk around more. I hit the goal of 10,000 steps a day only about twice a week, but tracking it with the Pedometer++ app does make me move around more.
    (Health tracking: I don’t do wearables because I don’t want a bluetooth device on my body 24/7. Here’s why. GMOs mess with your wiring; EMFs from tracking devices do the same. This app tracks steps while your phone is in your pocket or purse vs. a watch on your wrist. Those inches make a difference in exposure levels.)
  5. If you love a piece of art, buy it. Surround yourself with beauty. Go buy original art, whether it’s off the street or on Etsy or at a gallery (but don’t pay too much). Don’t buy mass-produced shit (unless you love it).
  6. See old friends whenever you can. Don’t trick yourself into believing that social media is a replacement for truly staying in touch. Make the drive, even if the visit is short. Schedule strategic layovers with enough time to grab lunch with a local friend. Bring a small gift (other than boxed wine). I recommend showing up with 99 cent bubbles on a spring day, like my college friend Shay.

BeanCast 434: Our Dander Is Up

I was a guest on The BeanCast. Listen: BeanCast 434 

January 30, 2017

Click to subscribe

PANEL

Emily Binder, Director of Content Marketing, MagicJack for Business

Mitch Joel, President, Mirum

Hal Thomas, Director of Content and Social Media, Noble Mouse

Tamsen Webster, Consultant, TamsenWebster.com

Bob Knorpp, Host, The BeanCast


TOPICS

Evolving the Hyperlink

Sources: VentureBeat reports

A Reluctant Super Bowl

Sources: Bloomberg on ad sales, NBC on conflicted approaches

The Instant Economy

Sources: Adweek analysis

State of Social Discovery

Sources: VentureBeat on Twitter’s movesMashable on Facebook Stories

Originally posted by Bob Knorpp on thebeancast.com

The Budget Keeper: Three Money Saving Tips for Your Twenties

This advice is geared toward your early twenties but is applicable to any stage of life. Whether you’re a recent college grad or a bit older, these tips will save you and make you the most money, based on my experience and calculations as a woman in my latest of twenties.
TL;DR:
  1. Used car
  2. Low rent
  3. Imbibing on a budget
They don’t teach these tips in school, but they should.
Set yourself up to be in a better place financially in ten years like so:

1) Buy a used car

Don’t buy a new car and don’t buy a flashy car to seem rich. You want to invest in your appearance for your career? Invest in your clothing. Dress at least one pay grade above where you are now. A sleek wardrobe that fits is a smarter investment than an automobile that spends 95% of its life parked.

cars parked in a full lot
A car spends 95% of its life parked. Good investment?

Keep your car payment as low as possible (or non-existent). $400-$500 a month will go further invested in stocks you believe in, in industries that you understand, than getting flushed down a motor finance drain. Buy a perfect black suit and a versatile cocktail dress that will pay for themselves, not a luxury car in which to sit alone in traffic. It’s for the birds – who cares about your car? (So millennial, I know.)

2) Keep your rent low

You’re young, you’re renting. Renting is okay. Renting is smarter than owning in many ways. A home is a liability, not an asset. Don’t feel pressured to own. Rent til you know. Enjoy your freedom. You can pick up and move to a new city anytime. You don’t need to mow a lawn or pay property taxes or acquiesce to an HOA.
house keys and Tile and Michigan keychain
The Tile is for when you lose your keys after a night with the Budget Keeper.

(Bonus tip: buy a Tile so you can save time and money finding your lost keys or anything else you frequently lose. It’s a GPS tracker connected to an app. I’ve sworn by Tile for years. They make great office gifts, too. It’s $24.99 for 1 or $62.93 for 4 on Amazon.)

While renting, bargain with your landlord.

2a) How to lower your rent

A) Offer to post reviews in exchange for reduced rent or at least two years of controlled rent.
B) Offer to pay three or six months rent in advance for a discounted rate or 1-2 months free.
C) If you’re in marketing, offer to do some social media promotion for your residence in exchange for reduced rent. Don’t use your personal brand for this – spell out a contract defining the promotion.

2b) Another renting tip: document

Whenever an issue arises, politely document the hell out of it via email, and make sure they know that you have kept track. Don’t be a nuisance or threaten anyone, and be lavish in your praise for what these apartment managers do right. But whenever you do email about a recurring issue, simply point out that you have documentation of the same thing having happened before, listing the dates and/or attaching the details as a PDF or email attachments. Maybe you have no issues with your landlord, property manager, or neighbors – consider yourself lucky. Keep renting until buying truly makes sense for you, your career, and your goals.

3) The Budget Keeper

This one is a little controversial 🙂

Don’t do this on a first date.

Do be discreet.

When you go out, pack a hip flask. Some people will judge you and think you’re cheap. You’re not, and who cares what they think? You’re young, trying to save money, and you just cut your bar tab in half. Bars mark up liquor an average of 300-400%. Restaurant owners are the only employers who don’t pay their staff living wages and expect customers to foot the bill. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a little sauce to top off your drink, considering how expensive going out can be. Especially if you have a high tolerance.

Sugar Kane

Think of this as a backup plan / accessory. This tip allows you to control your spending without ending the night early. You’re busy being fabulous, maybe networking a bit, you go-getter! You may even make some new friends or impress old men who retired from the railroad.

Notes:
Do buy something.
Don’t stiff the bartender.
Don’t get drunk.

Credit for the Budget Keeper goes to RickM. It’s not only a money-saver; it’s a throwback to a better time.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful. I’ll post more soon, hopefully in video format.

Why I’m a Rude Shopper

I can’t remember the last time a Kroger cashier thanked me first. They’ve reduced the number of staffed checkout lines and replaced them with mostly self check-out, which is a topic for another post about stealing. So there is at least 60% less human interaction than there was fifteen years ago, and today’s interactions tend to be robotic and thankless.

Many Kroger stores have a great organic section and the prices are very competitive, so I tolerate it. Publix has an abysmal organic section with a few overpriced, bruised Fujis and some wilted lettuce for $6, but better customer service. I’d rather go to Kroger and pay less for better produce with a subpar checkout experience than get gouged at Publix for a mealy apple with a smile.

woman with basket facing produce aisle

This may seem contradictory to the point of this post, but stay with me. In the end, I want value, and I’ve become accustomed to poor service because I live in this world. But I do one thing, which may make me seem rude, because I’m holding out for something better.

One woman who works the mailroom at my building doesn’t even say hello when a resident walks in. She just waits for you to ask for your package, then silently skulks off to fetch it. She hates her job. (She is the only bad egg there – the rest of the staff is pretty pleasant, and the manager is a real gem.) But interacting with her leaves a film of bad juju on you for at least an hour.

boxes and packages stacked on shelf
Hey Chewy!

This is the opposite of customer delight. Remember my post about the clunky way that customers have to sign up for a Target RedCard? Similarly, in order to cancel your LA Fitness membership, you need to log in to LAFitness.com then print and either mail or bring in a cancellation form Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM, when most people are at work. Here’s Step 1 after clicking on the form. It contains nothing more than your name and ID. You don’t even sign it. I enjoyed the irony of the third “choice”: you have to mail a hard copy but they cannot confirm receipt of said form unless you have an email address. Then why can’t it all be done via email? Of course it could. Nice retention model: inconvenience. The customer-last nature of that policy alone would compel me to cancel if I didn’t already have a bunch of reasons. (I haven’t been a member for years, I just return to this example because it’s so often salient when I talk about customer service.)

Make Eye Contact and Say Hello

It’s all too common that during a store checkout or badge swiping at a gym, the cashier or greeter senses your presence without looking up. Items are scanned or a key fob is swiped. There’s no eye contact or greeting. And there’s no “thank-you” afterward, unless it comes from the customer. Of course some businesses have excellent customer service, and Stan Phelps has collected some fantastic purple goldfish examples, but it seems to be increasingly rare.

out of focus business people waiting in lineOver time, the effect of being shuffled through impersonal assembly line transactions has a negative impact on all of us. And when a cashier at Whole Foods actually says hello, smiles, and thanks you, you don’t mind paying for the experience. Note: Whole Foods is only Whole Paycheck if you shop the aisles and buy pre-prepared foods.

The difference made by a cashier or server who makes eye contact, offers a greeting, and thanks me first upon payment is a contrast to most transactions. We’ve come to expect the exchange of money for goods to be mechanical. Where the customer is seen as polite by offering thanks first. (If the salesperson did something to help you, like finding your blouse size, of course thanking them first makes sense, because it’s for a specific action. But for the transaction itself, no.) The person taking the money should thank the customer first. And the customer should say, “you’re welcome, and thank you.” The order matters. Maybe this is why we love to shop online: although the thank-you page is automated, at least it happens in the right sequence.

Thank you for shopping with us today, [smile], we appreciate your business.

You’re welcome, and I look forward to returning.

I would like to close this with a strong statement like, “This is how you stay in business.” But that would be a lie, because tons of retailers and stores don’t train their employees to interact with gratitude and politeness, and these businesses are well in the black. Maybe our widespread addiction to phone checking, which really equals checking out of the present moment, has created a status quo in which rudeness is acceptable. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Either way, I’m holding out – I don’t thank first when I hand over money.

Ergodriven Topo Mat Review – Inspired by Nature

Topo by Ergodriven is the standing desk mat inspired by nature. After 5+ years of standing while working and testing several types of flat cushioned floor mats, Topo is the most comfortable and ergonomic anti-fatigue mat I’ve tried.
emily-binder-standing-ergodriven-topo-mat-review
Standing barefoot on my Topo

Addressing the hidden problem with standing desks:

Standing is only healthier than sitting if it’s done right.
-Ergodriven
Emily standing on Topo floor mat
At my standing desk, on my mat, long hair don’t care.

I’ve always recommended a high-quality anti-fatigue mat at least 3/4″ thick. You can certainly buy a cheap mat for $15 or $20 and kid yourself that you’re not wreaking havoc on your feet and legs, but prolonged standing with little movement isn’t healthy. Topo is a fun new take on foot relief, and it’s rooted in science.

Standing Science

I got rid of my chair because sitting can kill you. But standing on a flat mat, even a nice one like my $75 Rhino Mat, wasn’t cutting it. My legs still felt tired and heavy – stagnant.
Emily Binder standing on ergonomic mat at standing desk
To test it out, I stood on Topo at least six hours a day for two months. Sometimes in cushioned wedge sandals like this. Usually barefoot. Still using it.
Ergodriven is led by mechanical engineers who care about science. Topo’s calculated terrain keeps you moving while standing so blood doesn’t pool in your calves, which can cause poor circulation and increased risk of deep vein thrombosis. You subconsciously shift into different standing positions, engaging the anti-gravity skeletal muscle pump. Increased blood flow mitigates the risk of varicose veins. Great news for me, because although my CEP Women’s Progressive+ 2.0 Calf Sleeves are a big help for circulation while sitting or standing for long stretches, adding more movement is the best medicine.

Inspired by Nature

A Data Driven Playground for Your Feet

Topo’s design was inspired by hiking, swimming, and cliff-jumping.

Ergodriven Topo mat in grey
Office cliffs and peaks – Topo in grey

Our office environments are hardly natural for our bodies, so any way that we can introduce more of what we were really meant to do – run around the forest all day – the better our health. Topo increases range of motion and circulation vs. standing still.

The Amazon links in this post are referral links. See my full disclosure policy.

Startups and Crowdfunding

Ergodriven eschewed Kickstarter. They took the time to calculate costs and benefits instead of just following the herd. They put in the grunt work required to market a new product; driving traffic and building relationships takes elbow grease. Here’s their homegrown product launch campaign. It worked nicely, and best of all, had a 0% fee.

In fact, we have everything Kickstarter would have provided us set up on our own domain now, and it only took us about 150 hours. Compared to the estimated 8,000 hours we’ve put into developing and launching Topo so far – well that only represents about 1% of our time. So why would we give up 5% of our users’ hard-earned money?

Because that’s truly what it means. Avoiding Kickstarter’s 5% fee means we can charge 5% less.

People focus on funding too much.
Product is sexy; customers are sexy; revenue is sexy.

Product Details

  • Material: Environmentally-conscious, 100% polyurethane foam, with no PVC or plasticizers (like phthalates), or added flame retardants
  • Durable, breathable pebbled skin which feels nice barefoot
  • 7-year warranty against manufacturing defects
  • Hands-free sliding is easy with one foot (no reaching down)
  • Size: 26.25″x29″
  • Thickness: 2.7″ at highest point
  • Weight: 8 lbs
  • Colors: Black, grey, blue, purple, or green
  • MSRP: $199
  • Amazon Prime cost: $119
  • 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee (free return shipping)
I asked Ergodriven CEO Kit Perkins why he’s proud of Topo:
Kit Perkins CEO Ergodriven
I’m most proud of how many people love Topo and how much they love it. Topo’s return rate is incredibly low, and the reviews we get online and sent directly to our customer service via email are absolutely glowing and incredibly heartwarming to read. I’m so proud that Topo has improved so many lives, and continues to make a big difference in happiness and health for our users every day.

One Drawback

I still find myself striking my signature desk yoga pose with one foot on the ground and the other leg resting horizontally on my desk, bent at the knee, which may or may not be healthy. The flat areas of the mat are a bit thinner than I would like, so standing on those areas for a long time gets tiring. A larger footprint for more stretching and angled standing would be nice, but the current size is nicely manageable in a cube. Overall, it’s a great product from a company I respect, and it’s worth the $119.

Buy Now with free shipping on Amazon Prime

Disclaimer: Ergodriven provided me with a Topo in order to write this review. My recommendation is not for sale: this is my honest opinion after two months of testing. The above links to purchase this product are Amazon Associate links – read more here.