Cyber Saturday—YouTube Extremism, Bezos Phone Hacking, Spies at Mar-a-Lago

What causes a person to become radicalized?

This was the subject of a fascinating talk delivered by Tamar Mitts, an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, at a “data science day” hosted by the school on Wednesday. Mitts studied the efficacy of Twitter-disseminated propaganda supporting the self-identified Islamic State, or ISIS, in 2015 and 2016. To avoid the “obvious ethical issues” which attend to subjecting humans analysts to ISIS propaganda, Mitts said she used machine learning algorithms to identify and sort messages and videos into various categories, such as whether they contained violence. Then she parsed her dataset to uncover trends.

Mitts’ results were a revelation. Even though people tend to associate ISIS propaganda with heinous acts of brutality—beheadings, murder, and the like—Mitts found that such violence was, more often than not, counterproductive to the group’s aims. “The most interesting and unexpected result was that when these messages were being coupled with extreme, violent imagery, these videos became ineffective,” Mitts said. In other words, the savagery for which ISIS became famous did not appeal to the majority of its followers; positive messaging found greater success.

There’s a caveat though: Anyone who was already extremely supportive of ISIS became even more fanatical after encountering a piece of propaganda featuring violence. So, while violent acts turned off newcomers and casual sympathizers, they nudged ideologues further down the path of radicalization. Extremism begets polarity.

In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Mitts’ research gains even more relevance. Tech giants are continuing to fail to curb a scourge of violence and hate speech proliferating on their sites. World governments are, meanwhile, passing ham-fisted policies to stem the spread of such bile.

Perhaps Mitts’ discoveries could help society to avoid repeating history’s darkest moments. My appreciation for her work grew after I finished reading In the Garden of Beasts, a gripping journalistic endeavor by Erik Larson, which details the rise of Nazi Germany through the eyes of an American ambassador and his family living in Berlin. Afterward, I watched a YouTube video—an innocuous one—recommended by the author: Symphony of a Great City, a 1927 film that documented the daily life of ordinary Berliners at that time. It amazes me to think how, within a few years, these souls would come under the sway of Hitler’s bloodthirsty regime.

While the Internet makes zealotry easier than ever to incite, today’s tools also make it easier to study.

Robert Hackett


[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

When Will Gene Editing Help Humans? This Investor Says It’s Already Happening

Technology has long infused health care with inspiration and hope. The trend held true on Wednesday when a trio of forward-thinking industry leaders shared their thoughts on the future of medicine at Fortune’s fourth-annual Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego.

But their discussion was also about wallets—specifically, in what technologies these investors are putting their money.

Legendary Silicon Valley investor Beth Seidenberg of Westlake Village BioPartners made news at the conference, revealing that cell therapy startup Tmunity has brought a product into human clinical trials that has knocked out multiple cancer genes.

“You read a lot about gene editing and CRISPR-Cas9 as a tool to knock-in or knock-out specific genes,” said the 14-year Kleiner Perkins veteran. “There’s a big question as to when is that ready for humans. I’m here to tell you it’s already in humans.”

The reveal came during a back-and-forth when the moderator, Fortune executive editor Adam Lashinsky, asked participants to weigh in on the impact of Amazon in health care. The e-commerce giant is a hot topic even at a conference focused on medical technology, since its entrance into the pharma space with its acquisition of PillPack and foray into nonprofit healthcare, along with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan through Haven.

“Everyone wants to know what Amazon is doing,” said panelist Cheri Mowrey of Morgan Stanley. “We wish we had a crystal ball.” But as the investment bank’s head of health care services, Mowrey has watched as Amazon has made lots of hires in health care, describing them as “little pods of people within Amazon who are focused on specific programs—very secretive pods of people.”

A good example of this is PillPack, which has allowed the company to get comfortable with the federal regulatory and HIPAA framework. She expects Amazon’s next move will be to start monetizing medical devices.

But big money—and cures—lie in newer FDA-approved products that are coming available, says Amit Sinha of Goldman Sachs. “There’s been real value creation in fueling continued interest for treatments and modalities.”

Focusing on biotechnology investment at Goldman, Sinha considers the future of health care belongs to both big and small players. “If you look at the field of immuno-oncology, the biggest players today are large pharmaceutical companies, and part of that is because the funding required to fully develop and tap the full potential of some of these therapies required hundreds of millions of dollars.”

But breakthroughs like Tmunity’s are also impossible to ignore.

Additionally, Sinha thinks cell therapy, and its ability to do more with immune system-linked combination therapy, offers enormous potential. Said the banker: “That field alone is going to be the basis for some very important drugs over the next decade.”

For more coverage of Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference, click here. For news delivered daily to your inbox, subscribe to Fortune’s Brainstorm Health Daily newsletter.

Gadget Lab Podcast: Reporting From Syria

This week, we’re joined by a special guest: freelance war correspondent Kenneth R. Rosen. Ken is working on a series of stories for WIRED about the reconstruction efforts in Syria. The first of Ken’s stories, “The Body Pullers of Syria,” was published on WIRED earlier this week. We talk to Ken about how he does his job, the tools he uses to report the stories of the men and women rebuilding the war-torn cities, and the methods he uses to stay safe in the field.

Show notes:
Read Kenneth Rosen’s story, “The Body Pullers of Syria.” Also see Ken’s packing grid photo. We’ll be back with the regular news roundup and recommendations next week.

Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Our guest Kenneth Rosen is @kenneth_rosen.

Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen:
You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re also on Soundcloud and Spotify, and every episode gets posted to as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.

More Great WIRED Stories

South Korea rolls out 5G services on phones, in race with U.S. and China

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will become one of the first countries to commercially launch fifth-generation (5G) services as it rolls out on Friday the latest wireless technology with Samsung Electronics’ new 5G-enabled smartphone Galaxy S10.

People take photographs during a launching ceremony for SK Telecom’s 5G service, in Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

With one of the world’s top smartphone penetration rates, South Korea is in a race with China, the United States and Japan to market 5G, hoping the technology will spur breakthrough in fields such as smart cities and autonomous cars, and drive up its economic growth that slowed to a six-year low in 2018.

“It is meaningful that South Korean telecom companies are providing services and networks meeting South Korean customers’ high standard in speed and picture quality,” Ryu Young-sang, executive vice president at the country’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom, said on Wednesday.

A few hours after the announcement, U.S. telecoms company Verizon Communications Inc said it was launching Wednesday its 5G service on mobile phones in two cities, moving up its schedule by a week.

“For the first time ever, customers can access a commercial 5G network with the world’s first commercially available 5G-enabled smartphone,” Verizon said in a statement on Wednesday.

U.S. carriers have launched 5G services in limited areas and not on all devices as early as last year. “We launched the first mobile 5G network several months ago and we’ve followed that up with other firsts, including 1 Gig speeds last week with more cities to come soon,” said an AT&T spokesman, disputing South Korea’s first in 5G claim.

Telecoms and media company AT&T Inc has said it was the first to launch a “commercial and standards-based” 5G network in December 2018. The service was made available to mobile hotspot devices but not yet on phones on Dec. 21 in 12 cities.

5G will change the landscape of the gaming industry as it allows games streamed with minimal delay to be played on smartphones, SK Telecom’s Ryu said.

The technology can offer 20-times faster data speeds than 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks and better support for artificial intelligence and virtual reality with low latency.

Sometimes it can offer 100-times faster speeds.

South Korean carriers have spent billions on campaigns marketing 5G and, on Wednesday, SK Telecom showed off K-pop stars and an Olympic gold medalist as its first 5G customers.

SK Telecom is working with its memory-chip making affiliate SK Hynix to build a highly digitized and connected factory powered by 5G technology, Ryu said.

The operator expects about 1 million 5G customers by end-2019. It has a total of 27 million users.

Smaller rival KT Corp is set to offer cheaper plans than its LTE service, with unlimited data and four-year installments to buy 5G devices.

Samsung was the first to unwrap a 5G phone in February when it unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G and a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone, putting the world’s top smartphone maker by volume in pole position in the 5G race, some analysts say.

Smaller local rival LG Electronics Inc plans to release its 5G smartphone in South Korea later this month.


While security concerns over 5G networks using telecom equipment made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd have marred the buildup to the release of these services, South Korean telcos have tried to shrug them off.

“I don’t think we have a security issue in South Korea,” Park Jin-hyo, head of SK Telecom’s information and communication tech research center, told reporters.

Slideshow (2 Images)

He added that the company uses advanced technology to block eavesdropping or hacking into 5G networks.

Among South Korea’s top three telecom operators, SK Telecom and KT Corp do not use Huawei equipment for 5G. Smaller carrier LG Uplus Corp uses Huawei gear.

But SK Telecom officials said it was likely there will be an open auction for network equipment makers including Huawei if South Korea needs more base stations for higher frequencies.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh, Himani Sarkar, Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft

Apple Card vs. American Express Platinum: A High-End Credit Card Face-Off

Apple Card is coming this summer. And when it’s released, don’t be surprised if some industry watchers compare it to a variety of high-end credit cards including the American Express Platinum.

The tech giant unveiled the credit card during its otherwise star-studded Hollywood upfront-like event last week. While the Apple Card will allow users to make purchases anywhere MasterCard is accepted, it’s also quite unlike many other cards available today.

Apple Card doesn’t have late fees, annual fees, international fees, or over-limit fees. And although users will be encouraged to pay their monthly statements, technically, if you want to skip a month, you can. Just be ready to pay extra interest.

For its part, Apple has called its credit card revolutionary and suggested it could upend the industry. But it’s also entering a market that’s dominated by companies including Visa, Chase, American Express, and others, that have the credit card game down to a science.

“Apple is starting from the bottom of base camp in what looks to be a climb of Mt. Everest to gain 5% to 7% market share over the next few years,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Fortune in an interview. “The stage is set, now it’s about will consumers sign onto the platform and use the Apple Card over the coming years.”

Ives went on to say that Apple’s clear opportunity is “tapping into its 1.4 billion active iOS devices and monetizing the financial vertical.” He believes the company could attract 20 million Apple Card customers in its first three years.

But before it can get there, Apple Card needs to intrigue users. As a metal card with plenty of incentives for using it, I can’t help but compare it to the American Express Platinum—a similarly high-end metal card with its own slate of perks that some may find compelling.

So, to shed some light on where Apple Card might fit in the market, I’ve compared the Apple Card and American Express Platinum below.

From design to interest, here’s a look at how the two cards compare:


Apple Card and American Express Platinum are clearly vying for metal credit card dominance.

Apple Card has a titanium design and laser-etched Apple logo and cardholder name. There’s a security chip in the card, but no credit card number, CVV, or any other information.

The American Express Platinum is a metal card that features American Express’ logo and border and uses the same security chip in the Apple Card. Unlike the Apple Card, the American Express Platinum displays credit card number, expiration date, and CVV numbers in addition to the cardholder’s name.


Apple created some buzz when it said that cardholders won’t be subject to annual fees, international usage fees, over-limit charges, and even late fees.

American Express Platinum, on the other hand, is quite different. Cardholders are charged a $550 annual fee for having the card and up to $38 for both late payments and returned payments. And if cardholders want to add cards to their account for family members, American Express charges $175. There’s no charge for foreign transactions.


American Express Platinum cardholders pay off their balances each month to avoid interest on purchases. However, the company has launched a program for customers to carry a balance on the American Express Platinum and pay over time.

That program, aptly named Pay Over Time, will charge interest on the card’s outstanding balance. American Express doesn’t say on its dedicated Pay Over Time page how much interest it charges.

Apple Card balances come with an interest charge on the outstanding balance. As of this writing, Apple is predicting a variable annual percentage rate (APR) on Apple Card balances of 13.24% to 24.24%.


The iPhone maker’s Apple Card perks are based on a simple, 3-2-1 system.

Whenever cardholders buy products at any Apple marketplace, including its brick-and-mortar stores, its App Store, or iTunes, Apple will automatically give them 3% of the purchase price back.

Apple Card can be linked to Apple’s mobile payment service Apple Pay, which lets users hold their iPhones to purchase terminals and buy goods. When they use Apple Pay linked to the Apple Card at any store, they will get 2% of the purchase price back.

Using the actual Apple Card at a store will earn cardholders 1% cash back.

American Express has no shortage of perks and offers available to Platinum cardholders.

The card comes with up to $200 in free Uber rides each year. American Express also uses a membership points system that adds points to cardholder accounts based on their purchase. Those points can be redeemed for cash, travel, or retail gift cards.

American Express Platinum cardholders can also get up to $200 in airline fee credit to cover extra baggage costs, in-flight refreshments, and more. And with American Express’ partnership with hotels around the world, Platinum cardholders can get discounted rates when using their cards to book a room.

Add that to access to lounges at airports around the world and other cashback offers, American Express Platinum is a clear leader in perks.


So far, Apple has not said whether the Apple Card will be available to businesses. On the company’s website promoting Apple Card, the focus is on the consumer.

Meanwhile, American Express offers its Platinum card to both consumers and businesses.

Apple Has A New iPad Problem

With the amount of press surrounding Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) services business, some analysts seem to be forgetting that today, right now, the company gets 87% of its revenue from products. In the future, services may outstrip products, but products will still be a gateway. One product that doesn’t seem to get much press is the company’s iPad business. With the iPhone business on shaky ground, Apple really can’t afford for its iPad or Mac business to struggle as well. Last quarter, iPad and Mac made up just over 19% of Apple’s total revenue. Unfortunately, Apple’s most recent iPad announcements could spell trouble for both businesses.

The tablet market is shrinking… wait its growing… actually we don’t know

The tablet business seems to have reached a point where analysts can’t figure out if customers want these devices or not. A study from Statista suggests the following bleak picture:






Tablets Sold





(Source: Statista tablet market *projections)

Users are being told that tablet demand will decline as users choose to buy laptops, Chromebooks, and hybrid devices. On the one hand, Apple has a stranglehold on tablet operating systems. On the other hand, it doesn’t do much good to own a market that is falling apart.

There is just one problem… the market may not be falling apart after all. As quickly as you can find a study that says tablet sales will decline, you can find another that suggests tablets will return to growth. According to Frost & Sullivan, the tablet market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 1.6% through the year 2024. Though this doesn’t sound like fast growth, by 2024, it would mean 187 million units worldwide.

iOS worldwide tablet market share

(Source: iOS Worldwide Tablet market share)

This second study suggests tablets will gain new capabilities and cannibalize laptop sales. Assuming that iOS continues to hold its 74% worldwide market share, by 2024, the company would sell about 138 million of these devices. To give investors an idea of what this growth would look like, during 2018, the company sold roughly 43 million tablets.

In the last four quarters, the average revenue per iPad has hovered around $430. At 138 million devices, this would generate about $15 billion in quarterly revenue. Last quarter, Apple generated $6.7 billion from the sale of iPads. More than doubling its iPad revenue in the next five years, is something investors would be more than happy to accept.

If this were the end of the story

It seems like every time Apple begins to solve a problem it ends up creating another. The first example is the iPhone X. It seems obvious in hindsight, that users who bought the iPhone X were those who waited through the iPhone 6, 7, and 8, for a different form factor. Priced at $999, this premium device seemed to answer a question of demand for something different. Apple mistakenly assumed that everyone would pay $1,000 for a phone, and rolled out the iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. The company eventually made the iPhone XR available at $749. In the meantime, Apple witnessed slower iPhone demand than expected and is still trying to make up lost ground.

A second mistake was the timing of the introduction of the iPad Mini. The original iPad was released in April of 2010. Over the next two plus years, others introduced smaller tablets while Apple introduced the iPad 2 and even the iPad 3. With users salivating over the Retina display on the iPad 3, in November 2012, Apple introduced the iPad Mini… without the Retina display. In fact, it took until a year later when the Mini finally gained a Retina display of its own.

Unfortunately, Apple seems to have again created a problem just as it began to solve another. Over the course of 2018, Apple’s iPad sales momentum deteriorated significantly.


Q1 2018

Q2 2018

Q3 2018

Q4 2018

iPad Revenue Growth





(Source: AAPL quarterly results Q1 ’18Q2 ’18Q3 ’18Q4 ’18)

It’s really no surprise this slowdown occurred, given Apple’s iPad release schedule. The iPad from March of 2017, was a step up in performance, but not transformative. June 2017’s introduction of slightly different iPad Pro devices didn’t give users a reason to rush out and upgrade. Users had to wait for the iPad Pro 3rd generation, and the elimination of the home button, to get a change worth noticing. Since the devices weren’t released until the fourth quarter was already one-third over, it’s not surprising that results suffered.

Buyers seemed impressed by the advance of the iPad Pro lineup, because iPad revenue jumped more than 13% in the first quarter of 2019. If Apple left its lineup alone for another quarter or two, iPad results might have continued to improve, but unfortunately that’s not the end of the story.

Letting the Air out of iPad results

The introduction of the newest iPad Air and the revised iPad Mini is a confusing choice on multiple fronts. First, the iPad Mini hasn’t seen a refresh since 2015. Second, the iPad Air hasn’t been a name used since 2014. It’s almost like Apple forgot it sold these devices in the first place.








iPad Air 2019



1 lbs

64 GB

A12 Bionic – M12 coprocessor

Touch ID – Lightning connector

iPad Mini 2019



0.66 lbs

64 GB

A12 Bionic – M12 coprocessor

Tough ID – Lightning connector

(Source: Apple iPad Air and iPad Mini pages)

If these devices were standalone products, the company’s results would likely be amazing. The problem is Apple now gives users a lower-priced choice, that may cut into the average selling price that just started to recover.


Q1 2018

Q2 2018

Q3 2018

Q4 2018

Q1 2019

iPad Average Selling Price





*$507.57 to $511.45

(Source: AAPL quarterly earnings – *ARPU for Q1 is derived from Apple selling 13.1 to 13.2 million iPads in the first quarter the last two years. Taking the $6.7 billion in iPad sales and dividing by 13.1 or 13.2 million yields the range of $507.57 to $511.45)

iPad Air 2019

(Source: iPad Air page)

On the iPad Air side of things, buyers who are faced with either the iPad Air or one of the iPad Pro models have a relatively simple choice. For $300 to $500 more, they can get a Pro device with a faster processor and a somewhat better screen to form factor, or they can just get the iPad Air. In short, the iPad Air is such a good device, with such impressive specs, that it will likely make buyers wonder why they would waste $300 or more on an iPad Pro.

In addition, if users are considering a MacBook 12”, the pricing between the iPad Air becomes astoundingly challenging. The MacBook is $1,299 to start and has a screen with 226 pixels per inch (PPI). The device weighs 2 pounds and comes with 256 GB of storage. Instead of spending $1,299, a buyer could opt for an iPad Air with the Smart Keyboard. A 256 GB iPad Air costs $649, the Smart Keyboard runs $159 for a total cost of $808.

Though the iPad Air runs a different operating system, the Files app moves the device a little closer to the Mac. What’s more, the iPad Air is half the weight without the keyboard, supports Apple Pencil, and has a higher ppi at 264. This is a case where spending almost $500 less gives the user a little less screen, but is that enough to justify the huge cost difference? Probably not.

Where the iPad Mini is concerned, it’s possible that some users will opt for the Mini at $399 instead of the slower processor and bigger screen iPad at $329. However, it’s equally possible that some buyers who would have bought the Air at $499, will decide to save the $100 and cut weight by going with the Mini. The bottom line is Apple revived two products from multiple years ago, just in time to potentially cut the gains in iPad ARPU that just started.

Today versus tomorrow

A significant number of articles are being written about what Apple will look like tomorrow. The company’s services business is being talked about as though its growth is guaranteed. It’s possible services will overtake products, but that is a long road indeed. To be clear, I own Apple stock, I plan on holding onto my shares. I do think that services will be a growth driver for a long time.

However, Apple has shown it’s not infallible in releasing major products. The iPhone XR was released after the XS, yet based on demand, the situation should have been reversed. Apple made a strong move redesigning the iPad Pro lineup with their beautifully stretched screens, USB-C charging, and keyboard and pencil support. Users had a choice between spending $329 on the cheaper iPad or $799 or more for an iPad Pro. The ARPU seems to have moved up significantly on the strength of Pro sales.

Though the iPad Air and iPad Mini are designed to drive demand for iPad sales, the pricing may put a squeeze on ARPU again. In addition, Apple made the new iPad Air so capable, that some buyers may choose to opt for the Air over certain MacBook models. The company has been successfully pushing the price point for the MacBook up to drive higher revenue usually on relatively tepid unit growth. If the redesigned Air with its keyboard support steals MacBook sales, Apple’s overall revenue could suffer significantly from the massive difference in pricing.

Apple is constantly attempting to improve its hardware options to appeal to many users. At the present time, the lineup between the iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro, and MacBook has gotten a bit convoluted. Apple is hoping that users will stay in their lane and buy what it wants them to. Unfortunately, Apple may have just caused its own iPad problem.

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

The Only 4 Tools You Need to Improve Your Productivity Today

What I have learned through the process of applying new tools and forming new habits is that eliminating one thing made all the difference between getting bogged down and actually being productive: friction.

Friction is how difficult something is to do. The more friction you have, the harder it is to process and, hence, the more valuable time you take doing it.

For instance, I have tried numerous different apps to help me manage my life. I tried to integrate one tool that had a feature that the others did not, or I would default to tools I knew best, even if they were less effective. It turned out that all the technology advancements meant to help me be more productive actually had the opposite affect — something I am sure many entrepreneurs have faced.

With that said, I have found a nice balance between a few apps, all of which can fit onto my mobile home screen. Here are tips you can consider if you want to reduce friction and make progress.

Task List

I used to keep running tasks, or actions, in a journal, and while I still find value in journaling regularly, I have transitioned to a mobile and web-based task tracker called Todoist. I personally like this app because it allows me to easily create, categorize, prioritize and assign important tasks. Moreover, I can use Siri to quickly add tasks on the go, and I can save tasks by emailing them to the app or quickly saving them from my mobile device.

The free version is limited, and I personally find that premium services and benefits are worth $3 per month.

Whatever task list you use, just make sure that you can easily create and prioritize tasks, so you can quickly put it into your list and stay focused on the task you were doing.

Note Keeper

I am always thinking of ideas or coming across information I want to read and digest later when I have time. A task list is useful in this regard, but I use Evernote to quickly save and tag this information so that I can return to it later.

While Evernote does have a premium cost, I have been using the free version for years now with no issues. If you plan on using Evernote on an enterprise level or with others on a team, it is worth considering the premium service.


No busy entrepreneur or manager can survive without a calendar. For the most part, most calendars sync together, between Google, iOS, Miscrosoft365 and any number of other calendars you may use, so choose something you feel comfortable with.

One app I have found very useful is, which syncs to whatever calendar you use and allows you to create a custom URL you can share with others. After setting it up, you can send the URL to anyone looking to set an appointment without the back-and-forth of email or voice mails trying to find a time that works for everyone.

The free version of Calendly is limited, and the premium will run $8 per month. Only you can weigh the value in that, but I have certainly appreciated the ease by which setting appoints has become.

Cloud Storage

Lastly, we all need a “file cabinet” to keep documents and file away important things. The safest place these days (so long as you set up the right protection, starting with your password) is to keep your files in the cloud using a service like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. Like calendars, all of these services are easy to use, have web and mobile based interfaces for easy management, and all start with an adequate amount of free storage (unless you are storing videos or other data-heavy files).

The advice I give, and what has worked well with me so far, is to spend a little time with your cloud storage and organize as if you would a physical file cabinet. The nice thing is that with cloud storage, you can easily change and move files around, unlike when you create actual file folders for your desk.

To reduce friction, have your cloud storage set up with an “Inbox” folder, where you will save all files to file later. Again, this helps reduce immediate friction to free you up for more important tasks.

Lastly, I also advise to have a good scanning app — Evernote and many cloud storage apps have a scanning feature — and keep all your files electronically. This may not sit well with some readers, and I get it, and in the end you need to do what is most comfortable for you.

With these four things, I have managed to reduce the number of steps and actions needed to save a piece of information, create a task for later or set an appointment. Every week, I go through all apps and organize everything, process it, or get rid of it. All of these features work well together, but ultimately, you should find the apps or service that you like best.

What do you think? What other apps and services do you use to help you make daily progress toward your goals? Please share your thoughts with me on Twitter.

National Enquirer: Bezos' girlfriend's brother 'single source' for reports

FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC’s “Milestone Celebration Dinner” in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The publisher of the National Enquirer on Sunday said its reports on Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private life were based on information from a single source, the brother of Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

The statement from American Media Inc. followed publication by Bezos security chief Gavin De Becker of an article in the Daily Beast in which he said the government of Saudi Arabia had accessed private information from Bezos’ phone.

While De Becker said in the article that there was “high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone,” it was “unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”

Nevertheless, AMI released a statement saying its reports on Bezos’ affair with Sanchez were based solely on information provided by Michael Sanchez, “who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation.

“There was no involvement by any third party whatsoever,” it added.

Gavin de Becker & Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Howard Schneider; additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dan Grebler

Want to Spend Less Time on Marketing? Let Your Customers Do It For You?-?Here's How

As an already-busy entrepreneur, taking the time to create kick-ass marketing campaigns can sometimes seem more like a distraction than a worthwhile investment of your time. That being said, most entrepreneurs aren’t taking advantage of something that could dramatically reduce the time they spend on marketing: their customers.

If you take the time to strategize correctly and are crafty enough, your customers could be a content gold mine for your company. Here are even creative ways to do it.

1. Host a photo-sharing contest.

One way your customers can help your marketing efforts in a big-time fashion is through creating content to promote your business, and a photo-sharing contest is a great tactic to get the ball rolling. To do this, host a contest where customers must post a picture of themselves using your product or service on social media and tag your company in the photo to enter.

From there, you’ll have loads of images of happy customers to repost to your own social media channels for the next couple of weeks. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll also act as social proof that others are enjoying what your company is offering.

Important Note: Be sure to get explicit permission from whoever you plan on reposting that they’re okay with you doing so. Otherwise, you could have a lawsuit on your hands.

2. Use Instagram Polls for content ideas.

Stuck trying to settle on an idea for your next blog post, email newsletter, or video? Use the Polls feature on Instagram Stories to see what your audience is most interested in learning about. Within the app, they’ll be able to respond directly and vote on the topic they like best, saving you time trying to figure out which topics to cover. 

3. Use Twitter Advanced Search to eavesdrop.

Twitter has a too-often-overlooked feature called Advanced Search, which allows users to type in keywords to see what people are tweeting about as it relates to those keywords. You can also filter by location and more.

This makes it an awesome place to eavesdrop on what people are really saying about your company. Whether the tweets are questions customers may have about your company, complaints, compliments or something else, you can use this information as fuel for your content.

For example, if you have a question that frequently pops up, create a blog post to address it. If you have a part of your business that garners a lot of support, bring attention to it by posting about it across social media.

4. Take full advantage of user-generated content.

Using a tool like Tack or TINT, sift through the content your customers have already posted about you, then republish it across your social media. If you’re a moderately successful business, chances are high you’ll have a fair amount of user-generated content hiding online somewhere, whether it’s people eating at your restaurant or using your app.

One of the benefits of using a tool like TINT or Tack is they can automatically reach out to the creator of the post and ask them for permission to republish it, which will cover your bases from a legal perspective.

5. Turn positive comments into social posts.

Have a lot of positive comments from customers on social media or your company blog? Turn them into social posts by taking screenshots of the comment and publishing them to your profiles. You could even use a tool like Canva or Adobe Illustrator to make the pictures into captivating, branded word art.

6. Set up a referral program.

When it comes to brand awareness, few things beat word-of-mouth marketing. To drive more of it, try setting up a referral program where customers get kickbacks and perks for telling their friends about you. Additionally, if you have the resources to do so, consider setting up a member rewards program like Starbucks. This will gamify your customer experience and create a tightly knit community of people around your brand.

7. Create an incentive for video testimonials.

Give customers a reward or benefit for creating a video testimonial about what they like most about your product or service. Hearing and seeing positive feedback coming directly from a customer is much more powerful than a plain-text quote testimonial. 

To encourage users to share their video testimonials, you could give them 10 percent off your products, free company merchandise, or something else. Once you have these videos, you can share them across all your social media channels. 

It’s no secret just how time-consuming creating marketing content can become. This year, be sure to take advantage of the loads of content sitting right in front of you. It just might be the thing that dramatically brings down your time spent on creating marketing content. 

My Company Asked More Than 1,200 CEOs About the Most Important Decision They'll Make in 2019. Here's What They Said

Talent issues are top-of-mind for business leaders in 2019. In fact, according to a new report from my organization, CEOs of small and midsize businesses rank decisions about talent higher in importance than decisions about customers and financials.

Despite concerns for the economy, 65 percent of the 1,257 CEOs included in the Q4 2018 Vistage CEO Confidence Index report said they planned to increase hiring this year. This was a shade lower than the recent 15-year peak of 71 percent, but current recruitment intentions are still greater than at any other time recorded by our survey since 2003.

With the United States almost at full employment and wages rising, hiring won’t be easy during the next 12 months. CEOs are employing a variety of strategies to cope with this challenge, such as boosting wages (64.6 percent), adding employee benefits (36.1 percent), investing in equipment to automate tasks (35.2 percent) and allowing employees to work remotely (25.1 percent).

However, there are other strategies to consider. Here are two that I recommend.

1. Work smarter, not harder, on talent sourcing  

One of the most effective ways to source new talent is through employee referrals. Engage your existing workforce in the recruitment process by starting a referral program that provides incentives to employees to help bring the best people on board. Start an open conversation with all employees about how you reward effort to address any questions about compensation.  

Professional networks can also be a valuable source of top talent. Use them to target both people who are actively seeking new roles and those who are happy working elsewhere, even if that’s with your competitors. 

2. Get creative with professional development

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of the CEOs we surveyed recognized employee development will be key to their talent-management strategy in 2019. People are a business’s number-one asset. Giving them room to grow in the organization is one of the most effective ways of making them feel more valued, which can increase their productivity and make them stick around longer.

But don’t stop at training workers to be better in their current roles. Give them opportunities to develop communication, collaboration and leadership skills, and recognize their achievements with managed career progression. Connect senior leaders to junior team members through a mentorship scheme, too, and you’ll soon have a strong talent pipeline.