MONEY Impact Investing

How to Change the World—and Make Some Money Too

Young adults flock to investments that promote social good. This was a hot topic at a big ideas festival over the weekend and is front and center with financial firms.

Social investing has come of age, driven by a new generation that is redefining the notion of acceptable returns. These new investors still want to make money, of course. But they are also insisting on measurable social good.

Millennials make up a big portion of this new breed, and their influence will only grow as they age and accumulate wealth. The total market for social investments is now around $500 billion and growing at 20% a year. As millennials’ earning power grows and they inherit $30 trillion over the next 30 years, investing for social good stands to attract trillions more.

So what began in the 1980s as a passive movement to avoid the stocks of companies that sell things like tobacco and firearms has broadened into what is known as impact investing, a proactive campaign to funnel money into green technologies and social endeavors that produce measurable good. Clean energy and climate change are popular issues. But so is, say, reducing the recidivist rate of lawbreakers leaving prison.

Impact investing was a hot topic this weekend at The Nantucket Project, an annual ideas festival that aims to change the world. Jackie VanderBrug, an analyst at U.S. Trust, noted that 79% of millennials would be willing to take higher risks with their portfolio if they knew it would drive positive social change. Based on data from Merrill Lynch, that compares to about half of boomers with a social investing screen and even fewer of the oldest generation. VanderBrug also noted that women of all ages, an increasing economic force, tend to favor these strategies.

Speaking at the conference, Randy Komisar, a partner at the venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and author of The Monk and the Riddle, said, “This generation is the most different of any since the 1960s.” He believes millennials are chipping away at previous generations’ affinity for growth and profits at any cost. Young people embrace the idea that you work not just for money but also for experience, satisfaction and joy.

Komisar noted the rise of B corporations like Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s. These are for-profit enterprises that number 1,115 in 35 countries and 121 industries. Since 2007, the nonprofit B Lab has been certifying the formal mission of companies like these to place environment, community and employees on equal footing with profits. There are many more uncertified “Benefit” corporations. Since 2010, 41 states have passed or begun working on legislation giving socially conscious Benefit corporations special standing. Legally, they are held to a higher standard of community good, but they have cover from certain types of shareholder lawsuits.

Both types of B corporations acknowledge that their social mission gives them an important advantage hiring young adults, who in surveys show they place especially high value on the chance to make a social impact through work. “If your company offers something that’s more purposeful than just a job, younger generations are going to choose that every time,” Blake Jones, chief executive of Namasté Solar, a Boulder, Colo., solar-technology installer and B Corp. told The Wall Street Journal.

Industries that do not address the wider concerns of millennials will increasingly become marginalized. The financial analyst Meredith Whitney, who rose to prominence calling the subprime mortgage disaster, told the gathering in Nantucket that financial services firms have been among the slowest to consider sustainability issues—“and that’s why I think they are in trouble.”

Yet banks may be starting to come along. Bank of America clients have about $8 billion invested along sustainability lines, the bank says. And its Merrill Lynch arm has been a leading explorer of “green” bonds, which raise money for specific causes and pay investors a rate of return based on whether the funded programs hit certain measures of achievement.

Late last year, Merrill raised $13.5 million for New York State and Social Finance for a program to help formerly incarcerated individuals adjust to life outside prison. How well the bonds perform depends on employment and recidivism rates and other measures taken over five and a half years. The firm is now looking into a similar bond issue to fund programs for returning war veterans.

For now, green bonds are aimed at institutional investors, especially those charitable foundations willing to risk losses in their effort to change the world. The J.P.Morgan 2014 Impact Investor Survey found that about half of institutions investing this way are okay with below-average returns.

Young people saving for retirement and faced with a crumbling pension system can’t really afford the tradeoff, at least not on a large scale. That’s partly why they want their job or company to have a higher purpose. But ultimately some version of green bonds, perhaps with a more certain return, will be open to individuals for the simple reason that four out of five young adults want it that way.

TIME gambling

Report: U.S. Gaming Industry Generated $240 Billion Economic Impact in 2013

Dustin Dunn
A man looks at a gambling machine at the Aristocrat booth during the Global Gaming Expo Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Las Vegas. John Locher—AP

Study published just as Massachusetts weighs whether to welcome casinos

The U.S. commercial and tribal gaming industries generated more than $240 billion in economic impact and employed some 1.7 million people in 2013, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association.

The sum includes the $38 billion that the gaming sector said it paid last year in local, state and federal taxes, the Associated Press reports.

The report, presented at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas on Tuesday, is the first to include commercial casinos and their Native American–run counterparts in the total figures, the Las Vegas Review-Journal says.

Oxford Economics, which complied the number, found that the two gaming industries, plus the manufacturers of the games inside, took in about $87.1 billion in total revenue in 2013.

In Massachusetts, voters will go to the polls in November to decide whether to allow three casinos and a slot parlor to set up shop in the state. A vocal anti-casino lobby there has expressed wariness over developers’ promises that their operations will earn billions of dollars in benefits for the state and local, hard-up towns.

Massachusetts casino opponents often point to the closure of multiple casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s gaming hub that had once seemed adherent to Newton’s law of motion — where the good times would never stop rolling.

Many experts have pinned the city’s troubles on an oversaturation of the gaming market, and some in Massachusetts say the casinos already studding New England and the mid-Atlantic coast bode ill for the Bay State’s flirtation with gaming.

The American Gaming Association said in a recent release that “while the Atlantic City gaming market faces challenges today as it adapts to increased competition,” casinos there nonetheless generated more than $241 million in tax revenue in 2013.

TIME

The Real Truth About the Wall Street Bailouts

It happens to be the one we already know

It was probably inevitable, which doesn’t make it any less absurd. And it is certainly a reflection of their remarkable success, which doesn’t make it any less unfair. But six years after the spectacularly unpopular Wall Street bailouts, the government rescuers are under fire again—this time, not for their alleged generosity to financial firms, but for their alleged stinginess.

On Monday, a trial began in a lawsuit filed by AIG shareholders who claim the government somehow violated their rights when it rescued the busted insurer and salvaged their worthless investments. But even commentators who have admitted the lawsuit is “asinine” (in the New York Times) and “mostly insane” (in The New Republic) have suggested it’s nonetheless performing a public service, because it’s going to reveal the truth about the Wall Street bailouts. And on Tuesday, the Times ran a blockbuster story quoting unnamed sources who claim the government also could have bailed out Lehman Brothers, the venerable investment bank whose implosion nearly cratered the global economy. Again, the implication is that the official story is askew.

In fact, the lawsuit over the $182 billion AIG bailout is precisely as asinine and insane as it sounds. The government officials who stabilized the world’s most dangerous financial firm were the ones who performed a public service. And they absolutely would have rescued Lehman as well if they could have. Unfortunately, Lehman was hopelessly insolvent, and the government had no legal or practical way to save it without a private buyer willing to take on at least some of its risks. As for the truth about the Wall Street bailouts, well, the truth is already out there.

I have a bias here; I helped former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who helped rescue AIG and tried to rescue Lehman when he was president of the New York Fed, with his memoir, Stress Test. I was even peripherally involved in the AIG case, when Greenberg’s lawyers sought access to transcripts of my conversations with Geithner.

But I wrote a pretty high-octane defense of the AIG bailout back in January 2010, before I ever met Geithner. And it stands up pretty well, except for the part where I said taxpayers would take a hit; in fact, taxpayers ended up earning a $22.7 billion profit on their investment in AIG.

Overall, taxpayers have made more than $100 billion on the bailouts. More importantly, the aggressive U.S. financial response—along with similarly aggressive monetary and (initially) fiscal policies—helped rescue a free-falling economy that was crashing at an 8 percent annual rate. We’ve recovered better than the rest of the developed world—Europe still has 11 percent unemployment—and much better than nations that endured much less damaging financial crises in the past. It’s kind of amazing that we’re still arguing about an emergency response that turned out so much better than anyone, even the emergency responders, expected at the time.

But here we are. Critics still doubt the official story that Lehman could not be saved. They also insist the Fed could have forced AIG’s senior creditors to accept less than 100 cents on the dollar; they’re excited about the lawsuit because they expect it to expose shocking evidence about why the government didn’t insist on haircuts. In fact, these questions have been asked and answered. Geithner tells the story of Lehman and AIG at length in Stress Test. You can find a quick explanation of why Lehman couldn’t be rescued in on pages 206-208 and a quick summary of why AIG’s counterparties didn’t absorb haircuts on pages 246-248. Again, I’m biased, but if you’re interested in this stuff, you should read the whole thing.

Here’s a shorter version. The old conventional wisdom that Geithner and his colleagues were desperate to prevent big Wall Street firms from collapsing during the crisis was basically correct, although I’d say they were right to be desperate. The firms were all dangerously interconnected with the rest of the global financial system at a time when markets had lost confidence in their housing-related assets, and it was clear that any one of them defaulting on its obligations could further depress confidence and spark runs on the others. That’s why when Bear Stearns was failing in March 2008, the Fed helped engineer a deal for JP Morgan Chase to acquire it and stand behind its obligations, providing an emergency loan backed by some of Bear’s sketchiest mortgage securities. And when Lehman was failing that September, Geithner and his colleagues worked feverishly to recruit a buyer for a similar deal, holding a series of emergency meetings documented in crisis books like Too Big to Fail and In Fed We Trust.

So what happened? The only bank willing to buy Lehman and its toxic assets that chaotic weekend was the British firm Barclays—and British regulators balked before a deal could be finalized. That left the Fed without options. It’s only allowed to lend against plausibly solid collateral, and Lehman looked hopelessly insolvent. At the time, then-Fed chair Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson suggested publicly that they had chosen to let Lehman fail, because they didn’t want to accelerate the panic by making the government appear powerless. But really, they had been powerless. They knew the consequences of failure would be disastrous. They would have been thrilled to find a way to save Lehman.

In its carefully hedged, anonymously sourced story, the Times is now suggesting some New York Fed officials were “leaning toward the opposite conclusion—that Lehman was narrowly solvent and therefore might qualify for a bailout.” Put it this way: Their bosses did not agree, and neither did the market; as the Times noted, Bank of America had estimated Lehman’s net worth at about negative $66 billion that weekend. In fact, a subsequent study by economists William R. Cline and Joseph E. Gagnon—a study not mentioned by the Times—found that Lehman was at least $100 billion and perhaps $200 billion in the hole at the time.

“Our overall judgment on Lehman is that it was deeply insolvent,” Cline and Gagnon concluded.

One more point about Lehman: Even if the Fed had broken the law to lend into a run on an insolvent firm, and had somehow managed to stabilize Lehman rather than kiss its cash goodbye, it wouldn’t have defused the larger crisis. The government still lacked the authority to inject massive amounts of capital into the financial system—and a Congress that initially refused to grant that authority through the notorious TARP even after Lehman’s failure certainly wouldn’t have granted it before a failure of similar magnitude. Whatever. I guess some people find it comforting to believe the government could have snapped its fingers and ended the crisis early. It’s not a reality-based belief.

The perennial question is how, if the Fed lacked authority to rescue Lehman, it somehow found the authority to rescue AIG the next day. The short answer is that AIG, despite the awful misjudgments of a subsidiary that insured trillions of dollars worth of mortgage securities, had valuable revenue-generating businesses and a plausible claim to solvency. While Lehman was really nothing more than the sum of its toxic assets and shattered reputation as a venerable brokerage, AIG had solid collateral that the Fed could lend against with a decent expectation of repayment.

Ultimately, AIG would receive an astonishing $182 billion in government financing, and it would pay back every dime with interest. Its shareholders, who would have received nothing if the government had let the firm collapse, are now complaining in court that they should have gotten more. In his Times op-ed, Noam Scheiber aptly compared them to “a formerly starving man insisting he deserved filet mignon rather than a rib-eye.” Yet Scheiber argued that their filet mignon demand “may end up serving a constructive purpose.” He thinks the trial underway in Washington will reveal the real reason AIG’s creditors didn’t face haircuts; he doesn’t think the official explanation—that voluntary haircuts were impossible, and involuntary haircuts would have accelerated the panic—makes any sense. Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson not only called the lawsuit a “public service,” she actually portrayed AIG as an innocent victim in the financial crisis, “the patsy at the poker table.”

Uh…no. AIG was as rapacious and reckless as any bank. The government did push for modest haircuts for its creditors that might have saved taxpayers as much as $1 billion, but seven of the eight top creditors flatly refused. Unfortunately, the Fed could not force them to change their minds; several of them weren’t even U.S. firms. And the Fed could not impose the haircuts without forcing AIG into default; the creditors logically concluded a government that was spending $182 billion to avoid a default wasn’t going to create a default on purpose to save $1 billion.

This is the key: In a financial crisis, default is the enemy. The fear that secured debts won’t be repaid in full is the fear that drives panics. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation learned this the hard way a week later when it foolishly haircut Washington Mutual’s creditors, instantly triggering a run on the next-weakest bank, Wachovia; its ten-year bonds lost two thirds of their value the day after the haircuts. The whole point of the bailouts was to avoid defaults. This is not “counterintuitive” (Scheiber’s word) to anyone who has endured a financial crisis.

But the critics—who were wrong when they predicted the bailouts would cost trillions, and when they warned that the banking system could not be saved without mass nationalization, and in so many other ways—think the frivolous AIG lawsuit will reveal some dirty backroom deal where Geithner and Lord Voldemort conspired to rip off widows and orphans on behalf of Goldman Sachs. “Traumatic historical episodes often require a high-profile public reckoning before the country can move on,” Scheiber wrote. OK, he then admitted, the financial crisis inspired a litany of those, “but none fully exposed the weakness of Mr. Geithner’s logic.”

Hmm. Maybe it’s someone else’s logic that’s weak. And maybe it’s already time for the country to move on.

TIME Startups

Reddit Gets $50 Million in Venture Funding

A big step for a major Internet hub

The popular online message board Reddit has secured $50 million in new venture capital funding, the company announced Tuesday. The website known as the “front page of the Internet” is getting a cash infusion from a long list of investors that includes Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz and the rapper Snoop Dogg.

Reddit is well-known for its primitive website design and laissez-faire attitude toward moderating its users. The company is a former subsidiary of Conde Nast that was later spun off into an independent company. CEO Yishan Wong said the new funding will help Reddit grow its relatively small staff of 60 and improve its app and ad products. “An investment like this doesn’t mean we’re rich or successful,” Wong said in a blog post. “Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work.”

Reddit faced criticism earlier this month for allowing users to link to a vast number of stolen nude photos of celebrities. The startup defended the right of its users to post controversial content but ended up banning the page with the nude photos because some of the images were of minors.

With more money may come more pressure for Reddit to both generate profits and conform to the standards of traditional media companies. For now, though, Reddit is still playing by its own rules. The startup, which acknowledged it was still unprofitable earlier this year, has agreed to give 10% of its 2014 ad revenue to charity. The company promised Tuesday that investors involved in the latest funding round will give 10% of their shares back to the Reddit community (details on the practicality and legality of this are still to come, Wong said).

Reddit is no longer a scrappy startup underdog. It’s a company with a valuation pegged as high as a half-a-billion dollars that has hosted a conversation with the President, among other leaders. But Wong remains confident that backers will let the newly-rich Reddit keep being weird.

“We have been entrusted with capital by patient, long-term investors who support our views on difficult issues,” he said. “We believe in free speech, self-governing communities, and the power of voting. We find that this freedom yields more good than bad, and we have chosen investors based on this belief.”

TIME Software

Forget Windows 9, Microsoft Just Announced Windows 10

Microsoft says the next version of Windows won't be "one UI to rule them all," but a single product family with an interface specially tuned for each device.

How do you get everyone’s attention if you’re not the world’s most sought-after smartphone or tablet maker, but still the world’s largest operating system manufacturer by miles?

You do something a little weird, say formally skip a version of your operating system, chronologically speaking. If your company name happens to be Microsoft, that means you leap (instead of hop) from Windows 8 right over the wondering heads of pundits proclaiming the imminent arrival of “9” and on to something dubbed “Windows 10.”

What happened to 9? Who knows. Call it a very public sacrifice to the gods of predictability.

Microsoft made the announcement today during an offline press event, then on its Windows blog, where it said Windows was “at a threshold,” and that it was “time for a new Windows … built from the ground-up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

We know a little bit about Windows 10 already, but only a little bit. The Start Menu is coming back (not a surprise). Everything will now run in a window, including Windows Store apps. Snapping now supports up to four simultaneous apps (and you’ll be able to see other apps available for snapping). You can have multiple desktops, and there’s a new “task-view” button on the taskbar will let you switch between open files as well as alternative desktops. And File Explorer will now display your most recent files and frequently visited folders.

The number you slap behind your iconic IP, of course, means nothing when it comes to actually delivering on promises made at press events. It’s simply the marketing cap and sequential delimiter companies like Microsoft and Apple use to establish that this is what this thing does as opposed to that one.

But find your mainline product sporting a lower number than a competitor’s, and all marketing bets are off. Microsoft’s been in the single digits with Windows forever, whereas Apple’s been on the 10th iteration of its Mac-based OS X (technically pronounced “oh-ess-ten”) for well over a decade, simply adding a “dot” (and codename) to signify major releases.

It’s not clear whether Windows 8’s potentially behind-looking proximity to Apple’s ten-based naming scheme forced Microsoft’s hand (or galvanized its marketing team), but let’s just say the theory’s at least of passing interest.

TIME Companies

L’Oreal Halts Business Travel to Hong Kong Amid Protests

Hong Kong has been embroiled in protests this week

The cosmetics company L’Oreal said Tuesday that it’s suspending all business travel to Hong Kong amid pro-democracy demonstrations that have brought the city to a standstill, in a troubling sign for the global hub of business and finance.

The company has “a ban on business travel to Hong Kong until October 6,” a spokesperson told AFP.

Hong Kong has been embroiled in protests this week as pro-democracy activists seek concessions from Beijing.

[AFP]

TIME Regulation

FCC Ends Rule That Led to NFL ‘Blackouts’

Tom Brady
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass during pre-game warm-ups before playing the Kansas City Chiefs on September 29, 2014. Matthew J. Lee—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The FCC brushed aside the NFL's objections that blackouts were needed to drum up attendance at undersold games

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to revoke its support for “sports blackouts,” in which a sports team can suppress local broadcasts of its games until it has sold a certain percentage of stadium seating. But the FCC said blackouts could continue as part of separate agreements between teams and local broadcasters, raising questions about whether the rule change will really lead to fewer blackouts.

The little-known rule, which was first put into effect in 1975, disproportionately affected NFL games, which were blacked out if the team hadn’t sold 85 to 100 percent of its tickets 72 hours before kickoff.

The FCC called the rule an “unnecessary and outdated” means of drumming up ticket sales. “Television revenues have replaced tickets sales as the NFL’s main source of revenue, and blackouts of NFL games are increasingly rare,” the FCC said in a statement announcing the decision.

TIME Advertising

This ‘Bra Cam’ Shows How Often Women’s Breasts Get Ogled

Nestlé created video in honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness month

In honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, Nestlé FITNESS launched a campaign encouraging women to #CheckYourSelfie.

How did the company drill the message home? By chronicling how often people ogle women’s breasts by implanting a camera in a bra. And it turns out that the volunteer’s breasts get checked out a lot, by men, women, babies, and dogs, alike.

To be fair, though, the woman in the video is walking around with a bright pink bra sticking out of her shirt, which is likely to draw attention — although far be it from us to knock a breast cancer awareness campaign.

This isn’t Nestlé’s first go at smart-bra innovation. In 2013, the company created a bra that tweets every time it gets unclasped:

We can only imagine what undergarment-related promotions 2015 will hold.

TIME Smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 6 Is Headed to China

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A young boy uses an iPhone to take photos in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 30, 2014. Greg Baker—AFP/Getty Images

New device faced security concerns from Chinese regulators

Apple’s iPhone 6 will soon arrive on China’s shores. The company’s latest flagship device, along with its bigger cousin the iPhone 6 Plus, will go on sale in China on Oct. 17, while pre-orders will begin on Oct. 10.

For Apple, China has become a critical market that now comprises 16% of the company’s overall sales. The iPhone 6 launch had reportedly been delayed there because China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was slow to approve the new device. Regulators said as much in a statement on Tuesday, noting that Apple had to address security concerns related to third party access to user data before the device could be sold in China.

Apple has previously been forced to deal with concerns over iPhone security in China. Over the summer, a Chinese state-backed TV station issued a news report calling the iPhone a “national security concern” because of its location-tracking features. Apple issued a swift response pointing out that it doesn’t have access to that location data. CEO Tim Cook has since stressed Apple’s commitment to security in another statement, saying that the company had never allowed a government agency access to its servers. U.S. tech companies have been facing a chilly reception from foreign regulators since Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Even with security concerns assuaged, Apple faces challenges in China. A new crop of domestic phone manufacturers like Xiaomi now offer smartphones with robust feature sets at a fraction of the iPhone’s cost. Indeed, Apple is not even one of the top five phone makers in the country — but analysts say the jumbo-sized iPhone 6 Plus will appeal to Chinese users’ tastes and could be a big hit there.

TIME Careers & Workplace

33 Ways to Fix Being Utterly Bored at Work

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Bob Handelman—Getty Images/Photographer's Choice

Here's how to keep yourself motivated

themuselogo

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

You’ve taken on new projects. You’ve gone above and beyond. You’ve talked to your boss about additional responsibilities and gotten the old “definitely—once we have a position open / more budget / don’t need you to focus on X anymore.”

Frankly, you’re bored with your job.

And while sometimes, that’s a sign that you should hightail it out of there, others it’s a matter of keeping yourself moving forward (and not gouging your eyes out) until the next busy season, new client, or promotion comes along.

If you’re in that boat, you’re in luck: Here’s a roundup of things you can do in the office or during off-hours to up your professional game even when your current job isn’t exactly doing it for you.

If You Want to Network

1. Start a Book Group

Pick books that are related to your field—or a general business read that everyone can get some use out of, like something from the 99U book series orGood to Great. A great cadence is once per month—take over a conference room for your lunch hour or, better yet, meet for happy hour and chat at a bar.

2. Create a Networking Group

Have a few friends in your field you see from time to time at industry events? See if they’d all want to get together every month for an informal networking group, where you all meet to chat (and get advice!) about challenges you’re facing.

3. Go on Lunch Dates

Ever heard of “Let’s Lunch?” It’s a (free!) online network that matches you up with someone in your area for lunch during the workweek. Connect your LinkedIn profile, provide your availability and geographic flexibility, and the site’s algorithm matches you up with a like-minded lunch partner. It’s a great way to grow your network utilizing the free time that’s already built into your day. (Via Allison Stadd)

4. Ask a Co-worker to Join You

Go out to lunch with a co-worker you don’t know well. Not only will you get to know someone new, you’ll learn more about how your company operates—and potentially find new ways to collaborate and get involved.

5. Start a Lunch Club

Grab four other officemates, and assign everyone a day to bring enough lunch for everyone else on a specified day of the week. Cook once, get delicious meals (and team bonding) all five days!

6. Start the Company Softball League

Or frisbee team. Or 5K for charity. Showing some initiative to get everyone out of the office and hanging out with each other on a non-work basis will show the higher-ups you have what it takes to shine in the office, too.

7. Build Your LinkedIn Following

One expert suggests we should be using LinkedIn more like Twitter—finding and engaging with as many followers as possible. So start building your network. Here are a few more things you can do on LinkedIn every month, week, and day.

If You Want to Boost Your Skills

8. Try Morning Pages

Start every day with 15 minutes of creative writing. Entrepreneur Chris Winfield says it has “become an essential way to clear his mind, unleash creative ideas, and quiet his inner critic, reducing his anxiety.”

9. Start a Blog

It can be a place for you to write about happenings in your field, share thoughts on pop culture, or even pursue a hobby—just be clear on what your purpose is and who you want to read it. Then, get started by making a long list of topics you could potentially write about. Commit to pushing something out at least once a week to keep your (obviously avid) followers engaged.

10. Or a Podcast

Blogging not for you? Start a podcast. Better yet, invite industry leaders to be interviewed on your podcast. You’re boosting your personal brand and your professional network at once!

11. Write an Article

Then, try to get it published on an industry website. You’ll hone a new skill—writing and researching—and you’ll start to build your name as a thought leader in your space.

12. Get Your Voice Heard

Look for an upcoming conference or event you could speak at, and pitch yourself as a panel speaker or leader. Here’s exactly how to do it.

13. Look for Hidden Benefits

Browse your company’s benefits page, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all of them. Many companies offer free financial planning services, a professional development budget, or even sabbaticals or trips to other offices. Hey, if it’s cool with HR, it’s bound to be cool with your boss.

14. Learn to Code

No, really—it’ll boost your career no matter what you do (take it from this PR pro).Here’s a cool way to get started.

15. Or Learn Something Else

Pick a class, any class—here are 50 (cheap) ideas.

16. Or Teach Something

Consider developing live or online courses, workshops, or seminars in your areas of expertise. (Platforms like Skillshare make it easy to share what you know.)

17. Build a Personal Website

No matter what field you’re in, it’s a great idea. We have a seven-day plan that makes it super easy, and at the end of it all you’ll have an online presence that shows off who you are and displays your best work.

If You Want to Make Your Office Happier

18. Revamp Your Cubicle

It’s amazing what some fresh photos, some non-fluorescent lighting, and some organization can do for your inspiration (not to mention sanity). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

19. Fix Something

Look for a process, procedure, or meeting that everyone grumbles about, and think of one or two ways to improve upon it. Put together a plan, present it to your boss, and see if you can be the one who turns it into action.

20. Teach the Group

Offer to research and present on something to your team—whether it’s socially responsible business practices or a new project management tool.

21. Launch a Brown Bag Program

Once a month, invite cool speakers in to chat with your team about something in your field.

22. Mentor a Junior Employee

Look to see if your company has an official program you can participate in, or just look for younger co-workers who you could take under your wing.

23. Make a List

Create a list of resources you find helpful, sites you love to read, the best conferences or classes in your field, or anything else you think your co-workers might find useful, and send it out to everyone on your team.

24. Ask for a New Employee

If you don’t already have one, come up with a proposal for getting an intern or other direct report. Having someone to take some work off your plate can open up space for you to work on more inspiring projects—and having someone to mentor can be a great growth experience.

25. Create a Client Survey

Ask your customers and potential customers key questions that could help you better serve them (as well as for their general feedback). At minimum, you’ll get some helpful guidance for future sales or initiatives, and you’ll probably look like a star while you’re at it.

If You Want to Get Out of the Office

26. Plan a Trip

Research shows that just the act of planning a trip makes you happier, as you’re anticipating what’s to come. While we don’t recommend doing the actual planning on company time, daydreaming about your destination will certainly make the day go by faster.

27. Plan a Fundraiser

Or otherwise get involved in a cause you care about. Bonus: It’s a great way to network—reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while or think are interesting with an invite.

28. Do Something Totally Unrelated to Your Job

Take a bartending class, sign up for a half-marathon, get SCUBA certified. While it might not have anything to do with your job, you’ll definitely be more inspired in your off hours, and that’ll give your life inspiration an overall boost.

29. Learn a New Language

Along similar lines, even if you don’t speak Spanish or German at work, speaking and reading in a new language can get your brain thinking in totally new ways. (Here are five fun ways to give it a whirl.)

If You Want Something Totally New

30. Take on a Side Project

Start that funny Tumblr you’ve always wanted to, sell your wares as a consultant in your field, or start an Etsy store. It’ll give you a good challenge outside of your day job—not to mention some cold, hard cash.

31. Go Pro Bono

Use some of your free time to do some work for a nonprofit or early-stage startup with a mission that you’re really excited about. This will give you a chance to grow your skills (or potentially learn new ones) and remind you why you loved your work in the first place, plus it could even turn into an exciting full-time opportunity down the line.

32. Get a New Job

If you’ve tried everything and are still bored at your current gig, it’s probably time to look for a new one. Start making a list of your favorite companies, polishing up your resume, and getting some informational interviews on the calendar. On that note:

33. Take a Day Off

Hey, if you’re bored at work, you can probably afford it. Try this one-day, 10-hour plan to totally kick start your job search on a day off.

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