TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Reputation Online

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Examine your past, present and future

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As an entrepreneur who has spent a lot of time building a positive and powerful online reputation for myself, I need to make sure I’m working alongside others who have done the same. Thanks to social media and Google, it’s quite easy to find personal and business history on nearly anyone — especially if they aren’t careful with their social media activity. I’m not the only one interested in this type of information. Now every individual and potential hire is under a magnifying glass before their employer makes any final decision.

Mark Cuban recently did an interview with Inc. on the massive transformation of digital media and how personal data is being shared at an alarming rate. The majority of this personal data is collected through social networks and shared with various applications, sites, partners and more — usually without the end user’s knowledge.

Todd William of ReputationRhino.com agrees that data is potentially putting social media users at risk: “The pressure to share on social media is intense. But oversharing has a number of unforeseen consequences, like the boss discovering you at opening day instead of taking a sick day, your kids asking about those funny-looking cigarettes or a burglar finding out you are away from home on vacation.”

It’s not just about the sharing of your data, it’s also about what data is being shared, how it’s being used and how your past updates, shares, retweets and likes could possibly come back to haunt you.

Cuban mentioned that networks are now building personal profiles for every individual out there based off the data that is already available on the web. This information is priceless to marketing companies and companies who are hiring. It is completely changing the landscape of technology and the way we live our lives in the coming months.

Re-Examining Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is already out there, but it’s not too late to make it smaller and remove any connections or content out there that could potentially harm you down the road.

With the recent news that Google will start indexing Twitter updates within their search results, it’s now more important than ever for individuals to take control over what content they have online and not let their past social media digital footprint potentially harm them in the future.

The first step is going through your main social profiles on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and doing a manual audit of your updates, pictures and friend relationships. A manual audit will give you an idea of the type of content you’ve put out there in the past. By cleaning it up now, you can remove it from harming you in the future. In almost all cases, there is no need to leave potentially harmful content within your social profile history. All it takes it a simple click of the delete button to remove it from your profile stream.

Another option is to make sure you have a good reputation management plan or first impression in place. When someone searches for you or your brand online, you want to make sure they are finding quality content that puts you in a good light. For example, there are hundreds of other people who share my name in the world, but I’ve done my work to make sure I rank on the first page every time you search “Zac Johnson.” I created my own site, blog, managed social profiles and highlighted my expertise on other high authority sites across the Internet.

No matter how big or small your social network and online digital footprint might be, there is no better time to start cleaning it up than today. Removing just three pieces of potentially harmful content per day equates to over 100 removals over the course of a month. Take some time to invest in your future and your online reputation.

Zac Johnson has 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space. You can learn more about Zac athttp://zacjohnson.com and through his latest online learning course and community at http://blogging.org.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Uber

Uber Denies There Are ‘Phantom’ Cars In Its App

Uber was responding to a recent Vice article

Although there’s nothing too spooky about the possibility of phantom cars showing up in Uber’s app, it does come across as somewhat sneaky.

Researchers are arguing that the app has cars appear when a user opens up the service, but there are actually none in the area. Uber, however, vehemently denies the accusation of “phantom” cars.

In a Vice article, Alex Rosenblat and Luke Stark, who are researchers from the Data & Society think tank, said an Uber representative told a passenger that the app is “simply showing that there are partners on the road at the time.”

“This is not a representation of the exact numbers of drivers or their location,” the representative continued, according to the article. “This is more of a visual effect, letting people know that partners are searching for fares. I know this seems a misleading to you but it is meant as more of a visual effect more than an accurate location of drivers in the area. It would be better of you to think of this as a screen saver on a computer.”

“Our goal is for the number of cars and their location to be as accurate as possible in real time,” an Uber spokesperson said in an interview with The Guardian. “Latency is one reason this is not always possible. Another reason is that the app only shows the nearest eight cars to avoid cluttering the screen. Also, to protect the safety of drivers, in some volatile situations, the app doesn’t show the specific location of individual cars until the ride is requested.”

TIME windows 10

Windows 10 Includes This Really Unhelpful Error Message

SKOREA-US-IT-MICROSOFT
JUNG YEON-JE—AFP/Getty Images A woman walks past a billboard for Windows 10, the latest operating system from US software giant Microsoft.

‘Something happened’

Windows 10 launched this week to warm reviews.

The free upgrade for those running Windows 7 and up comes with an easy two-step installation, but that doesn’t things don’t go wrong. Actually, sometimes something happens. And that’s exactly what Microsoft will tell you.

The error message has popped up for a handful of users who took to social media to share the vague and profoundly unhelpful pop-up.

The “something” can actually be fixed pretty easily by updating the language preferences, according to a solution uncovered by a Reddit user.

Here’s how some people reacted.

READ MORE: Watch Microsoft’s unusual Windows 10 ad.

TIME China

New Study Blames Chinese Grandparents For Obese Kids

Weight-Loss Summer Camp For Students In Shenyang
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images Overweight students attend military training during a weight-loss summer camp on July 30, 2009 in Shenyang of Liaoning Province, China.

China is already the second fattest country in the world

Chinese children raised by their grandparents are twice as likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study published this month in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

China is already the second fattest country in the world, with more than a quarter of its adults overweight, or obese, in 2014.

The new study’s researchers set out to determine the factors leading to China’s high obesity rate, and they discovered that grandparents often work at cross-purposes with parents and schoolteachers when it comes to child nutrition.

Chinese grandparents, the study found, tend to overfeed the kids under their care: “Fat means wealthy,” some grandparents in the study told the researchers, believing that obesity indicates that children are well cared for. For many grandparents in China, who came of age during a famine that killed as many as 45 million people, high-calorie foods are viewed as healthier.

According to the study, children who live with their grandparents eat two more servings of junk food each week.

The widespread obesity among Chinese youth — with 23% of boys and 14% of girls considered overweight or obese, according to NPR — is creating problems for the rising country. Those figures have already surpassed other wealthy countries like Japan and South Korea. It’s posing problems for the Chinese military, since some soldiers are too fat to fit into their tanks. Last year, the People’s Liberation Army relaxed its weight standards slightly to allow “more portly young men” to join the ranks. Meanwhile, the prevalence of diabetes across China increased by 56% over the past two decades.

So don’t blame McDonald’s for China’s rapidly growing waistlines. Blame the grandparents.

TIME Fast Food

Here’s What a $15 Per Hour Wage Means For Fast Food Prices

Fast-Food Strikes in 50 U.S. Cities Seeking $15 Per Hour
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Here’s What a $15 Per Hour Wage Means For Fast Food Prices

A new study shows how it could affect consumer costs

As New York State moved closer to approving a $15 per hour wage for fast food workers last week, there was speculation about what such a hike would mean for consumers. A new study provides this answer: prices will increase ever so slightly.

Researchers at Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management found that raising pay for fast food restaurant workers to $15 an hour—the minimum wage that cities like Seattle and San Francisco have already adopted—would result in an estimated 4.3% increase in prices at those restaurants. That means the price of a $3.99 Big Mac would jump to $4.16. The study also found that offering health care benefits to fast food workers at restaurants with fewer than 25 full-time employees would have a minimal effect on prices because of current tax credits in the Affordable Care Act.

The study also examined the potential price fallout of a $22 per hour wage—the pay rate of the average American in the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. That hike would cause a 25% increase in prices, the study says.

The Purdue researchers relied on data from the National Restaurant Association for the study and examined information from Healthcare.gov to determine the price impact of offering health-care insurance.

“There were no surprises. We thought prices would go up. We just wanted to know how much they would go up if you raise pay and offer health insurance,” said Richard Ghiselli, professor and head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the study release. “The other way to look at this if you don’t want to raise the prices is to examine the impact on product size. As expected, a hamburger would be much smaller.”

TIME People

Uber Wants Your Parents to Be Drivers

senior woman hands on steering wheel
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The new economy is welcoming older Americans with open arms

“Companies don’t hire 50-year-olds. They just don’t.”

So says 50-year-old Sherry Singer. After decades of being a professional matchmaker, Singer wanted to change gears and start a non-profit, but still needed to pay the rent in L.A. Feeling she had few places to turn in the traditional job market, she looked to a more disruptive space: the booming on-demand economy led by Uber. Singer, who has now worked several of these freelancing jobs that didn’t exist a few years ago, found she could land a gig within a week.

Agism might be rampant in Silicon Valley, but some of the Bay Area’s leading companies are now actively trying to engage the senior crowd, recognizing the huge potential of experienced workers and responsible adults.

On Thursday, Uber announced a partnership with Life Reimagined, an organization under the AARP umbrella that exists to help older people figure out “what’s next?” after life transitions. The same day, Airbnb released data aimed at “celebrating” older hosts and guests, amid their executives attending summits on aging around the country.

“To overlook them participating in new activities would be really short-sighted,” says Airbnb’s Anita Roth, who attended a recent conference on aging hosted by the White House.

When these companies were startups that didn’t know how long they might survive, being short-sighted may have made sense. New tech companies have been started by young people who hire their young friends to help create solutions to problems they’re encountering in their own young lives. Their first customers are often their young, early-adopting friends who live in the Bay Area. But with valuations north of $25 billion, these “startups” are focusing on expansions into a more untapped demographic, which also happens to be huge and growing.

By 2032, Americans over the age of 65 will outnumber those under the age of 15. While bands of young companies are starting to pay more respect to the buying power of this demographic, Uber’s new effort is about recognizing their potential as workers. Life Reimagined bills itself as a helping hand for any adult in need of some direction—whether that person is a 42-year-old divorcee, 55-year-old empty nester or 66-year-old retiree bored nearly to death. Their mission isn’t just about helping people find new jobs or careers, but that’s often involved for participants who range from their late 30s to early 70s.

“The reality is there are far more adults looking for work than venues that are seeking to hire them,” says Emilio Pardo, Life Reimagined’s president. Their effort with Uber is explicitly targeting the “40-plus” crowd. The rideshare company said they don’t have a particular goal for how many drivers they hope to recruit.

Uber already has hundreds of thousands drivers coming onto their platform worldwide every month and expects perhaps another hundred thousand join their ranks in the U.S. over the next few years. Still, says Uber executive David Richter, they need to actively recruit. “We have the high-class problem of ever-increasing demand,” he says.

Uber previously engaged in targeted demographic outreach by trying to sell veterans on becoming drivers. The theory was that many veterans are task-oriented, disciplined and also looking for a healthy outlet “to bring those traits to bear,” says Richter. Those drivers turned out to get higher-than-average ratings; Uber hopes to repeat those results by capitalizing on older drivers who might provide a “more cautious, reliable ride.” According to a white paper released in January, Uber drivers are more likely to be young, female and highly educated than taxi drivers or chauffeurs. Still, about half of them are already over the age of 39.

What about the stereotype that grandma is a haphazard driver who goes everywhere with her blinker on and can operate a smartphone about as well as nuclear submarine? Ken Smith and Martha Deevy, experts from Stanford’s Center on Longevity, generally have a positive attitude about older people driving for Uber, saying that the flexibility those jobs provide will likely be attractive to retirees who need income but want flexible schedules. They also point out that if age 40 is the starting point, that means “there are 30 unambiguously safe years there.” If you look at fatal crash statistics, they point out, you could argue that getting into a car with a 65-year-old is safer than doing so with a driver who is less than 30.

Smartphones are required to do the job of being an Uber driver—as well as most new jobs in the on-demand economy—because it involves accepting and completing requests for rides through the Uber app. Just over half of 50- to 64-year-olds own smartphones, according to Pew, but those numbers are going up. In 2012, only 34% of them did. And, Richter says, new drivers can always lease a smartphone from Uber if needed.

The Center on Longevity is a leading organization dedicated to trying to figure out how Americans can all lead better, longer lives, a crucial mission given that our life expectancies have jumped 20 years since 1925. Airbnb worked with the group to develop a survey to learn more about their older users. Turns out, about one million of Airbnb’s guests and hosts are over 60. Considering 25 million people used Airbnb to find accommodations in the past year, that leaves a lot of room for growth, especially among a demographic that is more likely to own their own home. Like Uber’s veteran drivers, Airbnb’s older hosts also tend to get better reviews than the general population, Airbnb says. The majority of those hosts are either retirees or empty-nesters who start renting out rooms for the extra money; according to Airbnb’s survey, 49% of them are on a fixed income. But, Roth says, many people who come to the platform for the money end up staying for the social engagement and “renewed sense of purpose.” Isolation among older Americans, Life Reimagined’s Pardo says, “is fatal.”

Of course, the sharing and on-demand economies are not without their uncertainties and pitfalls. Lawsuits are alleging that companies like Uber are exploiting their workers, and cities like San Francisco are hotly debating how much home-sharing to allow. Though 50-year-old Singer continues to work for an on-demand ride company, she’s also a lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Postmates, an on-demand delivery service for which she used to be a courier. The business models of these companies may have to change, but the fact that companies can benefit from giving older Americans more opportunities and attention will remain. “People are in a moment in America where either they can’t retire, don’t want to retire or they’re retired but they’re not done yet,” says Pardo. “It’s all about using the latest technology to actually open up a new opportunity, to give you options.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Behaviors to Avoid for Happiness and Success

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Learn to get out of your own way for greatness

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What’s the secret to happiness and achievement? Sometimes it’s not so much what you do as what you stop doing. That’s the lesson behind some of the talks in TED’s playlist Counterintuitive Career Advice. The whole playlist includes 12 great talks, but the ones I love the most tell you what not to do–and show how most people hold themselves back from greatness.

Spend a little time watching these great speakers and you’ll learn some priceless lessons about getting out of your own way:

1. Stop making excuses.

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career,” by economics professor Larry Smith, may well be my favorite TED talk of all time. He tells the audience what he tells his students–that instead of reaching for greatness, they will find excuses for failing to pursue their dreams. From “I’m not a genius” to “I value my relationships too much,” he demolishes every one of these excuses and then some. And he will leave you feeling extraordinarily inspired.

2. Stop being so agreeable.

Going along to get along is a powerful, deep-seated human instinct, explains Margaret Heffernan, author of Willful Blindness, in the thought-provoking talk “Dare to Disagree.” But resisting is well worth it, because agreeableness can literally be lethal. Heffernan uses real-world examples to illustrate the danger of staying silent when you believe something’s wrong, and the good things that can happen when we accept conflict and disagreement as the valuable tools they are.

3. Stop expecting to succeed all the time.

Success is only momentary, argues art historian Sarah Lewis (pictured) in “Embrace the Near Win.” And even the most talented and skilled among us only achieve success some of the time. She learned this from looking at an artist’s early–and not-quite-satisfactory–paintings, and by watching an archery team work hard for three hours and only sometimes hit the bull’s-eye.

“Success motivates us, but a near-win can propel us in an ongoing quest,” she explains. So celebrate your near-wins and your almost-achievements. They’re an important part of the journey to where you want to be.

4. Stop giving up too soon.

What’s the best predictor of success? It isn’t talent, skill, or intelligence. It’s grit–that enduring ability to get up and try again after you’ve failed, and to continue believing that you can always do better next time. That observation comes from psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her talk “The Key to Success? Grit.”

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” she says.”Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.” How do you build grit? The best answer so far is something called a “growth mindset”–the recognition that our ability to learn and grow isn’t set but can improve with our effort. Next time you fail, keep that in mind and know that, if you keep working at it, you’re certain to do better next time.

5. Stop looking for quick answers.

“It is striking to see how big of an overlap there is between the dreams that we have and projects that never happen,” declares Brazilian entrepreneur and educator Bel Pesce in “5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams.” We kill our dreams, she explains, when we expect to succeed overnight, when we look to others for answers or blame them for our failures, and when we slack off after achieving what seems like enough success.

But there’s one other way to kill our dreams, she says–focusing only on the dream and not on the process it takes to get there. “Yes, you should enjoy the goals themselves,” she explains. “But people think that you have dreams and whenever you get to reaching one of those dreams, it’s a magical place where happiness will be all around.”

It doesn’t work that way, she says. Achieving a dream is only a momentary sensation, much like when mountaineers work hard to reach a mountain peak, only to start back down a few minutes later. “The only way to really achieve all of your dreams is to fully enjoy every step of the journey,” she says.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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TIME breaking bad

Here’s Your Chance to Pretend to Be Jesse Pinkman

A Look At "Breaking Bad" Locations Through Albuquerque
Steve Snowden—Getty Images A view of Jesse Pinkman's house.

‘Meth lab not included’

Always wanted to live out a Breaking Bad fantasy without actually operating a meth lab? Here’s your chance. Two of the houses featured in the critically acclaimed series are on sale in Albuquerque, N.M.

The house where fictional Jesse Pinkman lived in the series has an asking price of $1.6 million —”meth lab not included” — according to the Coldwell Banker’s press release. The realtors for the house, a mother-daughter team, created a website touting its celebrity status. The house, which was posted for sale Tuesday, has two stories, with 3,500 square feet, and four bedrooms. According to TODAY, the house for sale wasn’t used to film the parties or any “intense” scenes.

Though the series ended almost two years ago, Breaking Bad still gets plenty of hype. “Better Call Saul,” a prequel series that premiered earlier in 2015, was recently nominated for an Emmy. And Albuquerque’s tourism industry continues to capitalize on “Breaking Bad” buzz, offering tours of key locations in the series.

MONEY Insurance

Bad Credit Can Be Worse Than a DUI for Raising Auto Insurance Rates

Highway sign with DUI crossed out saying "You Can't Afford It"
Richard Klotz—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Insurers swear their rates make total sense.

Your credit score is a number that indicates how likely you are to pay off debts, from credit card bills to mortgages and beyond. The number is based on one’s credit history, and understandably, these scores are used regularly by banks and landlords as a way of determining whether it’s a good idea to give an individual a loan, or an apartment lease.

Increasingly, and somewhat puzzlingly, credit scores are also being consulted by employers to help them figure out who to hire, and by insurers that set premium rates based partially on the scores. Auto insurance companies began using the scores in the mid-1990s, and it’s now commonplace for them to help determine rates. Only California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have laws banning the use of credit scores as a factor for establishing car insurance rates.

What in the world does one’s credit history have to do with the likelihood of, say, getting into a car accident? The web insurer esurance admits on its site that using credit scores to determine auto insurance is “controversial.” But it claims that doing so is legitimate nonetheless:

While the reasons why are less than crystal clear, research shows that credit scores can accurately predict accident potential. Statistical analysis shows that those with higher credit scores tend to get into fewer accidents and cost insurance companies less than their lower-scoring counterparts.

While insurers acknowledge that credit scores play a role in whether premium rates are high, low, or somewhere in between, it’s largely impossible to tell how big the impact is. That’s why Consumer Reports decided it was worthwhile to launch an investigation and try to get to the bottom of this. “Over the past 15 years, insurers have made pricing considerably more complicated and confusing,” the report states. Because insurers aren’t exactly forthcoming in explaining how they come up with rates (shocking!), Consumer Reports researchers analyzed more than two billion auto insurance price quotes from 700 companies for hypothetical drivers all over the country.

The results, published in the September 2015 issue, are particularly alarming for drivers with poor credit scores—and even for those with scores that are good rather than excellent. “Our single drivers who had merely good scores paid $68 to $526 more per year, on average, than similar drivers with the best scores, depending on the state they called home,” the report states. Nationwide, drivers with good scores paid an average of $214 more annually than their neighbors with the best credit scores.

The impact of one’s driving and credit history on insurance varies widely from state to state. In Florida, for instance, a single adult driver with a clean record pays $3,826 annually for auto insruance, on average, if he has poor credit, or $2,417 more than a driver with a clean record with excellent credit ($1,409). Meanwhile, a driver with merely good credit would pay $1,721 annually, or $312 more than his counterpart with a top credit score.

Astonishingly, at times a poor credit score seems to have a larger influence on auto insurance rates than a drunk-driving conviction—which, one would think, is surely a strong indicator of the likelihood of getting into car accidents. In Florida, a driver with excellent credit and a DUI would pay an average of $2,274 per year for auto insurance, or $1,552 more than the driver with a clean record but a bad credit score.

Apparently, in the eyes of some insurers, the failure to pay off credit card bills is a worse offense than drunk driving.

TIME windows 10

Watch Microsoft’s Unusual Russian Windows 10 Ad

It's pretty ... different

Microsoft began its Windows 10 ad campaign last week by having Ethan Hawke explain to us how adorable babies will grow up with this wonderful new technology, appealing to consumers’ love for smooth voices, catchy songs, and cuteness. It was beautiful.

Their new Russian commercial, on the other hand, is … interesting?

The ad depicts Windows software as cartoon characters. Windows 10 is a starlet getting ready for a premiere that everyone seems to be excited for, particularly the nosy paparazzi. She strikes up a new romance with the hunky Edge, Microsoft’s new Internet browser, and apparently Windows 10’s new boyfriend. At the end of the ad, Windows 10 emerges, backed by all her Windows software friends.

Maybe you Russian speakers out there will be able to make sense of this.

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