TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Fears Standing Between You and a Much Bigger Paycheck

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In today’s workplace, money and salaries are still taboo topics

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

When Allen Walton, 26, of Dallas, was hired to help launch an e-commerce site for a security products company in 2011, he happily accepted the CEO’s offer of a $65,000 salary. After all, he’d been making about half that in a previous sales job, so he didn’t attempt to negotiate.

By 2013 the company was raking in more than $1 million in online sales—yet his salary hadn’t budged. When he asked colleagues in the industry how much they were making and did research on his own, he was shocked to learn his job was worth $10,000 more.

At first, he did nothing with this information.

“Based on the value I provided, I knew I wasn’t getting paid enough, but I was too afraid to ask for a raise and get shot down,” says Walton, who now runs SpyGuy Security, a site for high-tech security products. “The guy that I was working for was a bit intimidating. I’m not a confrontational guy, so I was afraid of rejection.”

Most of us can probably relate. According to a Salary.com survey, only a mere 12% of people try to negotiate for more money during performance reviews, and 44% say they never bring up the subject of raises. And it seems they’re really missing out, given that a recent CareerBuilder survey found that two-thirds of workers who ask for a raise actually get one.

Walton should know. Frustrated by his salary situation, he decided to watch some role-playing videos featuring a career expert offering tips for negotiating a raise, which helped him get up the nerve to ask his own boss. “Seeing and hearing other people do it gave me the confidence that I could do this myself,” he says.

When it was time to have the money talk with his manager, Walton went over how much revenue had gone up and pointed out that his salary remained the same. He showed his boss income figures for comparable positions in other companies and made it obvious how much he knew about operations in his department—and how little his boss did. Within 15 minutes, Walton received a $10,000 pay bump.

Sounds straightforward enough, right? So why is it that, even if we know the golden rules to getting more money, the majority of us fail to act on them?

The big-picture answer: fear.

Even in today’s workplace, money and salaries are still taboo topics, which could encourage you to stay silent rather than stir the pot. But, in the long run, you’re only hurting your own best asset: your earning potential.

To tackle this career roadblock, you have to first pinpoint what, exactly, is making you feel trepidation about asking for a pay bump. Chances are it’s likely one of these four salary-related fears that career experts most often see:

1. Fear That You Don’t Deserve More Money

We all know at least one overconfident co-worker who walks around the office thinking he or she is the company’s golden child. But these folks are actually few and far between. What’s more typical are employees who undervalue themselves, says Shaelyn Pham, a psychologist and author of The Joy of Me.

“They don’t believe their contribution is any more valuable compared to others. And if they don’t see their worth, then they’ll have difficulties asking for more.”

In fact, there’s actually a term for this: “impostor syndrome,” or the fear of being exposed as not nearly as talented, intelligent, or deserving as others might think you are. As a result, any promotions or raises are merely viewed as pure luck or that you’re simply on the receiving end of a boss’ goodwill.

2. Fear of Rejection

When you ask for what you want, there’s always the chance that you’ll hear “no,” and that means you’d have to live with the embarrassment of rejection. But you need to remind yourself that “no” the first time doesn’t mean the topic is off the table forever.

“The first response is typically ‘no,’ so if you put your tail between your legs after your request is denied, you will not get that raise,” says Katie Donovan, founder of salary and career consultancy Equal Pay Negotiations.

“The negotiation actually starts with the request being denied. So be ready for at least one ‘no.’ ” Which brings us to…

3. Fear of Negotiating

Unless you’re a lawyer or a seasoned salesperson, you probably don’t enjoy haggling for more money. In fact, 22% of respondents in the Salary.com survey didn’t ask for a raise because they felt they lacked the skills needed to negotiate, while 18% simply find the process “inherently unpleasant.”

But Donovan offers this telling statistic: “I’ve heard estimates that people who negotiate starting salaries and raises can earn $1 million more during their career. That’s over $20,000 a year if you work for 45 years!”

If you’re hesitant to proactively start the discussion, take advantage of review periods, suggests Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist and co-founder of GetRaised, a site that helps people do salary research so they can advocate for a raise. “You’re already having a conversation about your performance,” he says. “Salary and performance should be strongly linked, and so you want to take advantage of talking about one to bridge to the other.”

4. Fear of Losing Your Job

Being underpaid is better than not being paid—at least that’s the excuse people give for not rocking the boat in a still-recovering economy.

“The myth persists that asking for a raise or negotiating can get you fired,” Wallaert says. “But in the many interviews we did while building GetRaised, we never found a single person who was actually fired [for asking for a raise].”
Donovan also points out that if you have a job that requires a very specific skill or knowledge set, it might actually be more expensive for the company to lose you.

“The cost of hiring a new employee ranges from one and a half to three times the salary [of the position]. So a 10%, 20% and even 30% raise is often easier and more cost-effective.”

The Key to Fighting Those Fears: Know Your Worth

Getting past these phobias boils down to reinforcing for yourself that you areproviding value to your company—and deserve to get paid more for it.
For starters, it’s OK to let a little righteous anger fuel you.

“It’s a great balancer for fear—you can really get angry when you see how underpaid you are,” Donovan says.

To help pinpoint your worth, check out data from sites like Glassdoor and Payscale—or simply ask others what they make, as Walton did. “Just remember that people starting out may be getting paid more than you, since the job market has improved over the past few years,” Donovan says.

Taking the time to place a dollar figure on the impact of your work can also help motivate you because it’s a reminder of how skilled and talented you are—and it can help you with negotiations later.

Donovan recalls helping one client go through the exercise of translating her impact to her employer. The client was only expecting to unearth a small figure—but they actually calculated that she was worth $2 million in revenue and cost savings. In that context, “Negotiating for $10,000, $20,000, and even $30,000 did not seem scary when she understood the value of her work,” Donovan says.

And if your own results don’t give you the courage to speak up, ask yourself: Am Iactually doing the job that I was hired to do, or is this a different job that deserves a different salary?

When Brianna Rose, 25, from Long Island, NY, graduated from college, she took an entry-level job as a PR coordinator, and her employer met her salary expectations. But a year into the job, “I knew how successful of a brand I had built for them, and my workload had nearly doubled since being first hired,” says Rose, now a branding consultant.

She presented this information—including analytics that proved the impact of her work—to her boss and asked for a whopping $20,000 raise during her annual review. She was nervous to make such a large request because she was technically entry-level and working in the healthcare industry, which was cutting costs at the time. But she got the money in the end.

“It wasn’t that I just wanted a higher salary—it was that I wanted a higher salary once I better understood the job scope,” Rose says. “The research and time that went into my ‘dissertation’ for my $20,000 negotiation is what made me confident that I would receive it.”

At the end of the day, remember that part of your manager’s job is to deal with money and performance issues. So unless you’re asking for something that’s way above market rate and calls your common sense into question, your boss isn’t going to treat your request as unreasonable, says Alison Green, founder of the Ask a Manager hiring blog, who adds that you just need to make sure you stay professional and avoid being pushy or adversarial.

When “No” May Signal It’s Time to Move On

Of course, it is possible that, even if you do make a strong case for yourself, your employer may simply choose not to reward your work. When that happens, it may be time to see if there’s someone else who will.

And for some companies, the threat of losing a good employee may persuade them to change their minds. It certainly helped Walton’s case.

“My boss pushed back, but caved when he could see that I was serious about walking right then and there,” Walton says. “I knew that I could make at least the same amount of money somewhere else, if not more.”

But that tactic didn’t work for Keith Harding,* 37, a partner at an international law firm based in San Francisco.

Throughout his career, Harding had learned that the key to a successful salary request was to understand an employer’s profit model—otherwise, management might lowball employees in an attempt to boost their own bottom line.

“Before you ask for a raise, you have to be able to explain why it makes economic sense for the company—and make a case for why you deserve a bigger portion of the profit,” Harding says.

With that in mind, Harding felt justified asking for a 10% raise and a six-figure bonus at his last firm. His employer felt differently and turned down the request. Harding loved where he worked, but he made the painful decision to leave and work for an employer that met his compensation expectations.

“Pride was a greater fear [than rejection] for me, because I had to come to the conclusion that if I did not get what I wanted, I had to move on,” he says. “This is difficult when you like your employer and get along with management. But, at the end of the day, business is business.”

TIME Markets

Stock Markets Are Waking Up to Economic Reality

An investor holds a child in front of an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shenyang
An investor holds a child in front of an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Oct. 16, 2014. Sheng Li—Reuters

Misguided policy is undermining growth and creating new risks

Stock markets are supposed to be indicators of where economies are headed. The recent sell-off in global equities, however, shows investors are just catching up with the headlines. Wall Street had powered through the gloomy news emanating from much of the global economy for most of the year, with indices scoring one record after the next. But now investors seem to have finally woken up to the world’s woes, causing the bulls to stampede. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by as much as 2.8%, and even though it later recovered, it has still fallen by 5% in five days. That followed a terrible day on European bourses, with the German and French markets suffering large losses. The trouble continued Thursday in Asia, with losses in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Financial markets are reacting to what should have been obvious to investors for some time — growth is stumbling in just about every corner of the planet. And we can blame some pretty gutless policymaking for it. From Beijing to Brussels to Brasilia, governments are failing to implement the reforms we need to finally lift the global economy out of the protracted slump tipped off by the 2008 financial crisis.

The situation is most infuriating in Europe. The International Monetary Fund recently cut its forecast for euro zone GDP growth to a mere 0.8% this year. Germany, the largest and supposedly strongest economy in the zone, is projected to expand only 1.4%, while Italy, the zone’s third-largest economy, will likely contract again in 2014. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 11.5%. Meanwhile, the leaders of Europe seem unconcerned and have done little to encourage growth or job creation. At a European level, the process of forging greater integration and bringing down remaining barriers to cross-border business has stalled, while the record of individual governments in liberalizing markets and fixing broken labor systems is at best mixed. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, has fallen behind the curve in preventing prices from falling to dangerously low levels, raising fears of deflation, which would suppress consumption and investment even further. No wonder more analysts are worried Europe is facing “Japanification” — a potentially destructive, long-term malaise similar to what has been experienced in Japan.

Speaking of Japan, the program of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — dubbed “Abenomics” — is being exposed as a failure. Massive monetary stimulus from the Bank of Japan has not jumpstarted growth, while Abe, with government finances increasingly under strain, has had to hike taxes, dampening consumption and denting growth even further. The promised structural reforms that could raise the economy’s potential, from loosening up labor markets to opening protected sectors, have barely gotten off the ground. The IMF sees Japan’s GDP expanding a meager 0.9% in 2014.

The story in emerging markets isn’t much better. Once high fliers have crashed down to earth. Brazil’s economy will likely grow a pathetic 0.3% this year, while Russia, plagued by sanctions, will be lucky to avoid a recession. Even China is struggling. Though growth remains above 7% — at least officially — economists are just now starting to realize such rates are probably the country’s “new normal.” Facing a property slump and excessive debt, the economy will continue to slow down in coming years. Beijing’s policymakers have promised a lot of the liberalizing reforms that could fix China’s growth model, but they have implemented almost none of that program. A free-trade zone that was to be a critical experiment in more open capital flows, launched with great fanfare in Shanghai a year ago, has languished as policymakers drag their feet on implementation.

There are occasional bright spots, though. It looks like India is rebounding, while growth in some other developing nations, such as the Philippines, remains healthy. But that won’t be enough to stir prospects globally. And while the U.S. is better off than most other advanced economies, the inability of Washington to confront problems like income inequality or sagging infrastructure is holding the economy back.

What we are witnessing around the world is a slowdown created to a large degree by bad policymaking and political inaction. In fact, you could make the argument that what steps have been taken have only made matters worse. The long-running easy money policies of the Federal Reserve probably helped to propel the prices of stocks and other assets upward, detaching them from the underlying fundamentals of the global economy and making them vulnerable to sudden shocks and shifts in sentiment.

Perhaps what we’re seeing in global stock markets is a temporary correction or short-term adjustment. Or perhaps markets are telling us things will be much worse than we expect in coming quarters. Either way, it seems like investors are finally swallowing a dose of economic reality.

TIME Earnings

Netflix Had a Pretty Awful Day

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Netflix

Online streaming service revealed Wednesday it had missed growth targets, as HBO announces a rival streaming-only service

Correction appended Wednesday, Oct. 15

Netflix stock took a nosedive in after-hours trading thanks to a confluence of bad news for the company on Wednesday.

The streaming service missed its subscriber growth forecasts for the quarter and is one of the companies most threatened by HBO’s surprise announcement Wednesday that it will begin offering its content in a stand-alone streaming service in 2015. Netflix shares fell more than 25% in after-hours trading, erasing more than $7 billion in company value.

Netflix added 3.02 million subscribers globally during the third quarter, well off the 3.69 million the company had projected. In the U.S., the company blamed the stalled growth on a $1 price hike that went into effect in May. “Slightly higher prices result in slightly less growth, other things being equal, and this is manifested more clearly in higher adoption markets such as the U.S.,” the company said in a letter to shareholders. Netflix also missed the mark in international markets, though it rolled out in six new European countries in September.

The streaming service’s financial results were more positive. Netflix pulled in $1.4 billion in revenue, meeting analysts’ expectations. Earnings per share were 96 cents, beating projections of 93 cents. Overall Netflix generated $59 million in profit.

But the looming specter of a stand-alone HBO that consumers will be able to buy without subscribing to cable may be a greater threat to Netflix than slowing growth. The company did not seem overly concerned, however, about having to convince customers that House of Cards is more worthy of their money than Game of Thrones.

“The competition will drive us both to be better,” Netflix said in its letter. “It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to Internet TV.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated Netflix’s total revenue in the third quarter. It was $1.4 billion.

Read next: HBO Will Finally Start Selling Web-Only Subscriptions Next Year

TIME Regulation

More Than 350,000 Customers Have Asked AT&T for a Refund After Bogus Charges

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A general view of the exterior of the AT&T store in Times Sqaure on February 21, 2013 in New York City. Ben Hider—Getty Images

Here's how to request yours

Hundreds of thousands of AT&T customers have requested refunds for bogus cell phone charges since the telco reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last week to reimburse consumers, an FTC official told TIME Wednesday. In total, 359,000 individuals have sent in claims to the FTC seeking refunds for unauthorized charges that appeared on their cell phone bills in a practice known as “cramming.” Through cramming, third parties are able to issue unwanted, recurring charges for things like love tips and horoscopes to cell phone users.

Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said the response from consumers was one of the largest the agency has ever seen. The only case with a larger number of claims that she could recall was a 2012 settlement with Skechers over deceptive marketing for one of its shoe lines, which garnered close to half a million consumer complaints. “We expect this to be a lot higher,” Rich said.

In total, AT&T has agreed to pay $80 million in refunds to customers for cramming charges. The telco giant will also pay $20 million in penalties and fees to the 50 states and Washington, D.C., and a $5 million penalty to the FTC. At the time of the settlement, an AT&T spokesman noted that the company was the first in the telco industry to stop charging customers for premium SMS messages in late 2013. The FTC is currently suing T-Mobile over the same issue.

It’s not guaranteed that all the people who have issued claims will actually receive refunds. An independent claims administrator will review the refund requests to determine if they are valid. “I’m expecting that most of the claims are going to be valid, but if they’re not valid, there will be a way to determine that,” Rich said.

Customers who think they were a victim of cramming can file to claim a refund until May 1, 2015.

TIME Gadgets

Apple Accidentally Releases Images of New iPads

The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 appear to be very similar to earlier versions

Apple appears to have accidentally revealed images of both its new iPads, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 ahead of its Thursday event, an unusual mistake for a company known for being obsessively secretive before official announcements.

An official iPad user guide for iOS 8 could be viewed Wednesday in the iTunes store with screenshots of the new devices showing “everything you need to know about iPad, in a handy format.” The page was still live as of 1:45 p.m. ET. Apple blog 9to5Mac first spotted the user guide.

The guide shows that besides the addition of Touch ID, the latest iPads look essentially the same as their predecessors. The computing power of each is expected to improve, but design-wise, these screenshots reveal devices similar to their earlier incantations.

Read next: 50 Must-Have iPad Apps

TIME Media

6 Crucial Unanswered Questions About HBO’s New Streaming Service

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Here's why it's probably best to be cautiously optimistic

After years of maybe’s and not yet’s, HBO has finally announced that it will offer its content as a streaming service independent of a cable subscription sometime in 2015. People who don’t subscribe to cable have been begging HBO to take their money for years. Now, it seems, a rising tide of cord-cutters getting rid of cable and young adults who never subscribed to cable in the first place have compelled the network to fulfill their wishes.

But the announcement was painfully light on details. We don’t even know whether this service will be the same as HBO Go, the robust streaming app the network currently offers to its subscribers. Here are the questions HBO still needs to answer:

How much will it cost?

They don’t call it “premium cable” for nothing. The cost of HBO currently differs based on pay-TV provider and region but generally falls in the range of $15 to $20. Many cable operators offer the service at a discounted price of $10 per month for the first year. High-definition streaming on Netflix, for comparison, costs $8.99 per month. It’s hard to say where exactly an independent HBO would fall on this spectrum. Time Warner, which owns HBO, currently splits subscription fees with cable operators, but the operators handle the billing, customer service, delivery of content and some marketing. With a standalone service, HBO would have to deal with those issues itself and charge a fee appropriate to recoup those costs. Two years ago, HBO tweeted that a TechCrunch story that pegged the amount people would pay for the service at $12 per month “has it right.”

Will I be able to watch the newest episode of Game of Thrones?

If this service is the same as the current streaming service, yes. HBO Go allows customers to live stream the network’s TV shows on their laptops, mobile devices, and televisions. But it’s worth noting that HBO didn’t specifically say that HBO Go will be the standalone offering. The company has been notoriously reticent to offer its newest content to people who don’t pay for cable. Even the monumental deal to bring HBO content to Amazon Prime Instant Video for the first time doesn’t include Game of Thrones or more recent seasons of current shows like Boardwalk Empire.

Will the service perform well, technically?

Going by HBO’s past track record, this could be a problem. HBO Go crashed during the season finale of True Detective and multiple times during the last season of Game of Thrones because too many people were accessing the service simultaneously. Obviously a standalone service would be even more popular. No doubt HBO would beef up its servers to handle additional load, but that added expense would place more pressure on the network to raise the price it charges customers.

Will Internet service providers play nice with an HBO streaming service?

This year has seen an ongoing debate between Netflix and several ISPs over who should pay to deliver Netflix’s content to customers. Netflix suffered slowed speeds on the networks of Comcast and Verizon until the company agreed to pay them to establish a better connection. As a streaming service that will also stream its content over ISP’s pipes, HBO could face similar costs. It doesn’t help that many of the ISPs are also pay-TV operators that aren’t likely to be pleased that HBO is giving customers an incentive to cut the cord.

Can I finally dump my cable company?

If you were only keeping it around for HBO, and the new service functions similarly to HBO Go, sure. Otherwise, you’ll still need cable to watch a lot of TV content live, especially sports. But the fact that a cable network as prestigious as HBO is willing to break out of pay-TV’s walled garden in such a big way could have implications later. Other channels that already have robust streaming apps, such as FX and ESPN, could follow in HBO’s footsteps.

Does this matter to me if I still have cable?

It might. Cable operators initially offer HBO at a discount to entice customers to subscribe to the service. Now that HBO is becoming a competitor as well as a partner, they may be less motivated to subsidize the channel. And with HBO having to take on new infrastructure costs, the network may pass those expenses along to both cable and non-cable subscribers.

TIME Television

It’s Not TV. And It’s Not Cable. It’s HBO, Online.

HBO's Post 2012 Golden Globe Awards Party - Inside
A view of the atmosphere at HBO's Post 2012 Golden Globe Awards Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on Jan. 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills. Jason Merritt—Getty Images

In a potentially big change, the network will give cord-cutters a way to get Game of Thrones online (and pay for it).

If you’ve been considering cutting the cord to your cable-TV subscription, HBO may have just handed you the scissors. At Time Warner’s investor meeting Wednesday, CEO Richard Plepler announced that beginning in 2015, HBO will offer a standalone online service, allowing broadband customers without cable TV to subscribe.

This move has been speculated–and by some cordcutters, fantasized–about for years. But the thinking was that it was some time off, if ever, because HBO had more to lose by ticking off cable providers than it had to gain from broadband content delivery. Apparently the balance has shifted, with 10 million U.S. households getting broadband-only service. As Plepler said:

That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO . . . We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.

The statement leaves a lot of details open–price, how much HBO programming will be available–but the upshot appears to be: you’ll be able to get pay for HBO streaming without cable or satellite service, essentially buying HBO GO or another, possibly more limited, online service. Does this makes sense for HBO? It seems to think so, aiming for a combination of tapping into new households and, maybe, monetizing some of those cable-less fans who’ve been borrowing HBO GO logins to watch Game of Thrones. (Not to mention possibly getting a competitive edge on Netflix.)

Without access to the numbers, I can only speculate on the math. HBO does risk making less money from cable carriers, since HBO’s service is worth less to the carriers if the carriers’ customers can get HBO without them. Maybe HBO plans on making up the difference in volume, or maybe the standalone package will be priced accordingly higher.

But however this particular deal works out, this is a potentially exciting development for TV viewers tired of watching their cable packages swell into bloated, gold-laden barges of tied-together offerings topping $200 a month. If big player HBO sees that it can offer a cable-free package and survive, that may lead the way for companies in other pricey TV sectors–live sports, for instance–which you’ve had to agree to buy a giant cable package to get.

It’s easier to imagine a future in which you cobble together a decent menu of entertainment with Internet service, over-the-air HD, and some combination of HBO, Netflix, Amazon and so forth. That cord-cutting, a la carte paradise isn’t here yet. But HBO may just have unleashed the dragon.

[Non-disclosure disclosure: HBO and Time Warner Cable used to be sister companies of TIME within Time Warner; Time Warner Cable and publisher Time Inc. were spun off as separate companies by Time Warner, which still owns HBO.]

TIME Smartphones

This Is Not the BlackBerry You’re Looking For

BlackBerry Passport Launched In India
The Blackberry Passport Hindustan Times—Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The 4.5-inch square screen on BlackBerry’s new Passport is certainly novel. But the smartphone seems to lack that crucial “Aha!” moment

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

“Why should I care?”

That’s the phrase I uttered to myself when I first unboxed BlackBerry’s latest smartphone, the Passport.

Why should I care about the device’s odd 4.5-inch square screen? Why should I care that the device is the same size and shape as its namesake? Why should I care that Amazon’s App Store is preinstalled on the Passport?

Okay, okay, forgive my skepticism. There’s a lot to love about the Passport. It’s the first product launch under BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who took over the struggling company last November. In an effort to turn it around,Chen said he wanted to return to the Canadian company’s roots by providing devices and services that appeal to large companies, a.k.a. the enterprise.

A travel document-shaped phone fit for business travel? Sure. Why not?

BlackBerry BBRY 1.80% positions its oddly shaped device—which certainly succeeds at drawing attention to the company—as the ultimate productivity tool for those who want to get work done. If the marketing sounds familiar, it is: In recent years, BlackBerry has let out a business-focused battle cry with every major product release. It’s as if the company is saying, “Please, forgive us for the pink BlackBerry Pearl Flip.” Or perhaps, “Here is a phone that won’t run Flappy Bird.”

In truth, the Passport’s screen lends itself to displaying more information without forcing you to rotate the device, as you will often do with a phone of more conventional proportions. I found the screen quality to be on par with, if not slightly better than, Apple’s iPhone and most high-end Android devices on the market.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

There’s No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance

Group of office workers in a boardroom presentation
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A mixture of the two creates value in a way that neither does on its own

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As parents settle into the new school year — a time for new schedules, new activities and new demands — the pressure to balance life and work is ever present. But to suggest there is some way to find a perfect ‘balance’ (i.e., to focus equal time and attention on work and home) is impossible in my mind. Or to put it more bluntly – the whole concept of work-life balance is bull.

I’m still a parent when I walk into work, and I still lead a company when I come home. So if my daughters’ school calls with a question in the middle of a meeting, I’m going to take the call. And if a viral petition breaks out in the middle of dinner, I’ll probably take that call, too.

And that’s okay — at least for me and my family. I have accepted that work and life are layers on top of each other, with rotating levels of emphasis, and I have benefited from celebrating that overlap rather than to try to force it apart.

I refer to this as the “Work/Life Mashup.” In tech-speak, a “mashup” is a webpage or app that is created by combining data and/or functionality from multiple sources. The term became popular in the early days of “Web 2.0,” when API’s (application programming interfaces) started allowing people to easily layer services on top of each other – like photographs of apartment rental listings on top of Google maps. There is a similar concept in music, where a mashup is a piece of music that combines two or more tracks into one.

One of the key concepts of a mashup is that the resulting product provides value in a way that neither originally did on its own; each layer adds value to the other.

Now, I’m not suggesting this is a guilt-free approach to life. People – and especially women – who try to do a lot often feel like they do none of it well, and I certainly suffer from that myself. But I have learned over time that how I feel about this is up to me. How much or how little guilt I experience at work or at home is in my control.

I also realize that the concept of a mashup is a lot easier (and perhaps only possible) for people with jobs where creating flexibility is possible. With these caveats in mind, here are some things to think about to create a work/life mashup early in your career: add value and don’t ask permission.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Apple

Here’s Why People in China Are Going Crazy Over the iPhone 6

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus retail sales begin in Spain
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Twice as many as Apple sold the first weekend in 10 countries last month

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A reporter who has been tracking iPhone 6 and 6 Plus reservations in China for the past week estimated on Tencent QQ Monday that more than 20 million units were pre-ordered last weekend. His report is being picked up by DigiTimes and other Asian tech sites.

If the 20-million figure is accurate — a big if — it would mean that five times as many iPhone 6s were pre-ordered in three days in one country as were the first weekend in 10 countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Hong Kong.

Apple reported last month that took more than 4 million pre-orders in one day and sold more than 10 million units the the first weekend.

It’s not easy to get comparable numbers in China, where customers register their orders not just with Apple and the three major Chinese carriers, but also with thousands of authorized Apple resellers.

The Tencent estimate seems to be based largely on the same JingDong reservation counter we’ve been tracking. As of 8:00 p.m. Monday, Beijing time, JingDong‘s total stood at more than 9.5 million, split nearly evenly between the two models:

  • iPhone 6: 4,672,082
  • iPhone 6 Plus: 4,831,091

The long lines of ethnic Chinese buyers camped out in front of Apple retail outlets last month suggested that the large-screen iPhones would be a big hit in China. What we don’t know is exactly how big.

Sales on the mainland are scheduled to begin Friday, Oct. 17. On Apple’s Chinese online store, most models are already sold out.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

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