If youre a new mom, you might be counting down the days when you can trade in your maternity pants for your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Yet experts say just as it took you nine months to put on the weight, losing it can take several months or more. If the weight isnt coming off as fast as you want it to or your weight loss has stalled, there are several factors that could be hindering your efforts. Here are 10.
1. You weighed too much before or during pregnancy More than 50 percent of women are overweight or obese when they get pregnant, and only about a third gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you became pregnant while you were overweight or if you gained more than you should have, it can make it that much more challenging to lose the weight. In fact, women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are more likely to keep the weight on even up to 15 years postpartum, a meta-analysis in the journal Nutrition Reviews found.
Although you cant go back in time, its important to recognize that it could take you longer.
2. Youre not getting enough sleep Sleep is hard to come by with a new baby, but when you are sleep-deprived, the hormones that affect appetite are unbalanced. In fact, people who slept for only four hours ate more calories the following day than when they had enough sleep, a study presented at the American Heart Associations scientific sessions in 2011 found.
Sleep deprivation causes your body to up its production of ghrelin, which increases hunger, and slow down its production of leptin, which regulates appetite.
If your partner can take a feeding at night or you can catch a nap during the day, it can help you get the rest you need.
Also, eating at the exact same time every day will regulate your hormones and your appetite. Although your babys sleep schedule is inconsistent, you can actually train your body to maintain a consistent schedule, Dr. Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and a New York Times bestselling author of 50 More Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food, told Fox News.
3. Youre not being patient enough Trying to stack up to those celebrities who are back in their bikinis two weeks after giving birth isnt healthy. The time it takes to lose the baby weight is different for each woman, but it will take at least six months, if not more, Angela Ginn-Meadow, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Baltimore, Maryland, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Fox News.
Dont beat yourself up, but do make sure your diet and exercise habits are consistent and realistic for your life.
It might not happen overnight, but small, simple steps to getting back will be key, Ginn-Meadow said.
If you think youve been doing everything right but your weight loss has stalled, seek advice from a registered dietitian nutritionist, who may be able to help.
4. Youre skipping meals Between feedings, diaper changes and an unpredictable schedule, making time to sit down to a meal can feel like an afterthought. Yet if you dont make regular meals a priority, youll feel irritable and more likely to eat more at the next meal. In fact, fasting is linked to abdominal weight gain and may increase your risk for type-2 diabetes, a study out of The Ohio State University suggests.
5. Youre hitting the gym too hard You might think it will take hours at the gym to lose the baby weight, but thats not the case. In fact, doing too much too fast can put you at risk for injury, pelvic organ prolapse a condition that causes the pelvic organs such as the bladder or uterus to bulge out of the vagina, and even halt your weight loss efforts.
A lot of cardio also stimulates your appetite to increase to match it and sometimes to exceed it, Leah Keller, a pre- and post-natal fitness expert in San Francisco, California, and creator of The Dia Method, a prenatal and postnatal fitness program, told Fox News.
Instead of pushing yourself to do a HIIT class when you get the all-clear to exercise again, resistance training that targets the major muscle groups is the most effective way to torch calories. Aim for 25 minutes, twice a week.
Cardio isnt off limits, but make sure its low impact especially when you start to exercise again. Then as you feel stronger, you can move onto intervals on the elliptical or bike. As you push the heart rate up and down, you get more benefit long-term both for your cardiovascular fitness and calorie burn, Keller said.
6. You have a thyroid issue Up to 30 percent of postpartum women likely have thyroid dysfunction due to an iodine deficiency, Dr. Prudence Hall, founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California, told Fox News.
During pregnancy, your baby takes iodine from you, which in turn can cause hypothyroidism, a disorder whereby the thyroid gland doesnt make enough thyroid hormone. After you give birth, symptoms like fatigue, depression and weight gain can show up.
If you suspect that you have a problem with your thyroid, ask your doctor to run a comprehensive thyroid panel, which includes TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies. If the test determines there is an issue, your doctor may prescribe iodine and a thyroid medication. Theres also some evidence of women reversing their thyroid problems through diet.
7. Youre eating the wrong foods To lose weight, you need to eat meals that regulate your blood sugar and keep you feeling satiated. Make sure you eat plenty of vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats throughout the day to fill you up, but be sure to keep empty calories to a minimum.
We all love treats, we all love indulgent foods. But those occasional foods really need to be once or twice a week they dont need to be a habit, Ginn-Meadow said.
8. Youre snacking at night You might get a hankering for a snack after your babys middle of the night feeding, but those extra calories can add up. Instead, drink a cup of chamomile or cinnamon tea, which studies suggest may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
9. You have a leaky gut Breastfeeding causes low levels of estrogen, which surprisingly can affect the GI tract and lead to intestinal hyperpermeability, or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome occurs when tight junctions that line the inside of the intestines open and allow undigested food particles and pathogens through. Research suggests that this increased permeability in the gut is linked to increased visceral, or deep, fat.
When the GI tract goes out and doesnt digest food as well, thats a major cause for weight gain, Hall said.
To boost your gut health and lose weight, try probiotics, along with digestive enzymes, eliminate gluten, minimize dairy and of course, eat a healthy diet, she said.
10. Youre eating your feelings When youre sleep deprived and feel overwhelmed and stressed out, its common to rummage through the pantry for something to make yourself feel better. Yet if you dont break that habit, it can prevent you from losing weight.
Instead of turning to food to feel better, have a list of healthy activities you can do when youre trying to cope with your feelings.
That might include putting your baby in the stroller and taking a brisk walk, signing up for a mommy and me Yoga class, journaling, or simply escaping to the bathroom to take a few deep breaths for a moment of peace. Five minutes away of [or] getting a few moments to yourself can [be] so refreshing, Albers said.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.
Who hasn’t made an appearance in an Air New Zealand safety video?
The cheeky airline, a top pick in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards, has recruited Anna Faris, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, Betty White, and The Hobbit cast to deliver messages about buckling seat belts and using oxygen masks, and for its latest movie (err, safety video), Kiwi supermodel Rachel Hunter joins the fun.
Filmed in ten different locations in the Northland region of the country, Summer of Safety (remember, it’s summer in NZ right now) follows local prime-time soap opera star Jayden Daniels as he travels around the Bay of Islands and Hokianga meeting up with Game of Thrones actor Joe Naufahu (Khal Moro to the fans out there), IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, and Olympic bronze medalwinning pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.
The airline is hoping the latest video puts the Bay of Islands and the wider Northland regionknown for big-game fishing, Haruru Falls, and Russell and Maori siteson the next year’s hit list for travelers.
One of our goals at Air New Zealand is to inspire visitors to travel beyond the traditional gateways, Jodi Williams, general manager of global brand and content marketing, said in a statement. This latest edition is a great opportunity to not only deliver a safety message, but also to showcase the very best of the North to help drive economic benefit for the region.
Air New Zealand isn’t the only group trying nontraditional approaches to draw visitors. New Zealands South Island saw a boost in the number of visitors by working with social media influencers on Instagram rather than traditional marketing.
With about one-third of children in the United States who are overweight or obese, most parents know their kids should be getting at least an hour of exercise each day. Exercise not only helps with weight control, but it helps kids build healthy muscles, bones and joints, improves their self-esteem, helps them sleep better, and may even prevent depression later on in life, a January 2017 study in the journal Pediatrics found.
However, experts say the time to get kids moving isnt when they take their first steps but rather weeks after theyre born.
What we know about development is that every stage builds one thing upon another and the brain-behavior relationships are built easier when youre younger, Jane Clark, PhD, professor and chair of the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, told Fox News.
Just as talking, reading and singing to babies promotes cognitive and speech development, movement from the very beginning helps babies facilitate their motor milestones.
Tummy time is babys first exercise. At around 6 weeks, you should feel comfortable throwing a blanket down on the floor and putting your baby down on it because thats the beginning of exercise and movement, Dr. Corinn Cross, a board-certified pediatrician in Los Angeles and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), told Fox News.
Tummy time every day helps babies build their upper body strength so they can hold up their heads, push up and then later roll over, crawl, pull up to stand and eventually walk.
Starting tummy time early can also foster independence and prevent you from having to strap your baby in an infant seat, swing or bouncer, or put him in a playard when you need to get things done. I think [parents] do it out of safety, but I think you just have to find a safe place, Cross said.
Do babies need fitness classes? Mommy and me yoga, gymnastics and music classes are all great ways to get your baby moving, but dont sweat it if its not possible for your family because your baby wont lag behind on his milestones, Cross said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there isnt enough evidence that these classes promote physical activity or prevent obesity, but they say babies should have a safe, nurturing and minimally structured play environment.
So find natural ways for your baby to move and interact at home and with other children at the park, a childrens museum or on playdates, for example.
Sing, dance and move with your baby. Experts say parents should avoid putting their babies in infant car seats, strollers, and bouncers when its not necessary and avoid giving their babies a phone, iPad or digital device to distract them.
Instead, natural play is a great way to get babies moving. Sing, dance and bounce your baby, and lift him up in the air. Hold your baby on your lap, encourage him to stand up, and then slightly lean him to each side. Youre actually getting them to make adjustments in their body, in their torso muscles and in their legs, Clark said.
As your baby gets older, encourage him to crawl and sit up by placing blocks, cups and toys he can reach for in front of him. You put toys in front of them and theyre going to be more active, theyre going to move, and that sets them up better for life, Cross said.
Get toddlers moving. The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) recommends toddlers get 30 minutes of structured physical activity and at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity every day. According to the organization, toddlers also should not be sedentary for more than an hour except when theyre sleeping.
However, the reality is that many toddlers fall short. Preschoolers in child care centers only get 48 minutes a day of activity and only 33 minutes a day are spent outside, a 2015 study in the journal Pediatrics found.
Whats more, only 19 percent of kids play outside and get at least an hour of exercise every day, a 2012 survey by the YMCA found.
Providing opportunities for movement early on will ideally help kids not only have the skills but also the confidence to participate in sports, martial arts and dance when theyre older.
Youre not going to be physically active if the only thing you can do is walk, Clark said. If you dont have the competence, you wont have the confidence.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.
Amit Rathore is the founder and CEO of Quintype, a modern media technology platform and premium monetization service.
If you’re old enough, think back to the early days of the internet. It was a tapestry of low-res images, comic sans, scrolling banners, and painfully slow dial-up connections. Back then, it was hard to imagine what a ubiquitous and important thing it would become. In fact, an infamous dating back to 1995 was titled The Internet? Bah!
Harder to imagine still was the impact it would have on industry and media publications in particular.
Today, the traditional media industry is in crisis. Since the internet began to provide open and free access to news and media content, leading publications have struggled to find viable monetization models. According to , non-digital advertising revenue fell by 10% in 2015 alone, and in 2014, the latest year for which data was available, newsroom employment also declined by 10%. A handful of forward-thinking legacy publications the New York Times and the Washington Post, for example have begun to find their feet in the tough new digital landscape. Others like Buzzfeed are to bolster revenues. Within the next five years we are likely to see half of todays legacy media businesses go bust if they cannot start making profits.
While the new ecosystem will kill off many players, it will leave a less crowded playing-field for those that can adapt quickly to the new conditions and find means of monetizing in the digital world.
The impact the internet has had on the media from the early 1990s to the tech bubble was massive. But how did we reach this stage?
What was the early impact of the internet?
The first half of the nineties saw a small number of news-sites pop up, with Bloomberg, Wired and MTV all launching in 1993. They were shortly followed by the Economist, Telegraph.co.uk, Velonews, and Jerrys Guide which would become Yahoo! in 1994, before CNN Digital went live in 1995.
However, early users were most excited about the recreational uses of the internet. The prospect of sharing ideas and opinions with people on the other side of the world resonated far more than the idea of consuming content and reading the news.
In released back in 1994, newsreaders are featured low on the list of functions, with more focus put on electronic mail, and finding people to communicate with.
Early research into internet saturation in the U.S. in 1995 revealed that 14 percent of the country was already online. But the slow and expensive process of logging on through dial-up modems held back the newfound past-time as a novel hobby rather a day to day activity for the majority.
Of course, this made the internet’s global success hard to predict, and its eventual impact on traditional media was entirely unforeseen.
How did legacy media companies interact with the early internet?
In the mid 1990s, the web was a mess. There was no Google, and it was very challenging to navigate through pages that were often unedited. As a result, people in the media saw the early World Wide Web as a curiosity and nothing more.
Very few newspapers could afford or had the expertise to create online outlets, nor was there much desire to. The investments required to build out websites were steep, with Time Warners celebrated Pathfinder site reputedly costing $120 million to build. The audience was, at that time, very limited.
But then something remarkable happened. Online banner advertising began in the early 1990s as page owners sought additional revenue streams to support their content. It was an unexpected success.
The first clickable web ad was sold by Global Network Navigator in 1993, and the first AT&T ad on HotWired had a 44% click-through rate (CTR), a number unheard of today. As the famous statistic goes, youre and an average CTR on a Facebook advertisement today would . By the late 1990s, due in part to higher user numbers and impressive CTRs, hundreds of U.S. newspapers began publishing online versions.
The electronic newspaper is part of a strategy to extend the readership of the Times and to create opportunities for the company in the electronic media industry, said Martin Nisenholtz, president of The New York Times, in 1996 when the newspaper introduced its website.
How did media publications feel about the internet at the end of 1990s?
By 1999, the estimated number of worldwide internet users had reached 150 million, with more than half of them based in the United States. The dot-com boom was well underway, and investors and consumers alike were going crazy for anything internet.
While internet saturation had increased dramatically, and traditional media outlets were starting to take more notice of the potential of web, at this point the internet still did not pose a threat to the media industry.
Somewhat counterintuitively, a 1997 found that computer use was in fact linked to an increase in the consumption of print. This was most likely down to higher-socioeconomic groups cultural favoritism for print media. However, in the midst of the dot-com boom, experts had begun to predict an impending shift.
A stated advertisers will increasingly migrate to online businesstobusiness sites, and that trade publishers are lagging behind Web startups.
The late nineties saw media moguls like Rupert Murdoch a self professed internet skeptic take a step into the digital unknown. In April 1999, with $300 million to invest in the internet, interactive television and wireless communication. At this point, News Corps stance was to use websites as a commercial tool to extend the brands of existing media outlets.
By then, most leading news outlets had extended their services online. However, even at the peak of the dot com boom, online news was viewed as a profitable extension of regular print news media, rather than a direct competitor.
Nevertheless, advancements in internet technology would open the door to a much richer multimedia experience, bringing video to users screens as well as an enhanced sense of community and interaction. This would begin to make online news more appealing to the average news reader than the paper dailies on which they had relied for so many years.
The challenges the media are facing today stem from that early, chaotic digital frontier. With a massive growth in users and the global and scalable nature of the web, however, there were clear indications that the internet would be a game changer.
Today, we are seeing similar beginnings, with the rise of artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual and augmented reality. Whether these affect the media industry in a positive or negative way really depends on how we leverage and prepare for them. Its time to learn from the lessons of the past: The one thing we shouldnt do is underestimate just how reactive we need to be to new technology and media in the future.
You already know that you need plenty of sleep, but when youre tossing and turning all night, watching the hours pass by on your alarm clock and willing yourself to doze off, it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful to get a good nights rest. As you get older, conditions like arthritis, GERD, sleep apnea and depression can make sleep even harder to come by.
In fact, according to a 2014 survey from the National Sleep Foundation, its most recent data available, about 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as poor or fair.
If find yourself rising at a late hour and need to wake up early the next day, experts say you should avoid these six mistakes:
1. Stay in bed. If you cant doze off within 15 or 20 minutes and youre feeling frustrated, theres no sense in just lying there. The best thing to do is to get out of bed and do something relaxing like read (a book, not a device), do breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditate or listen to music that makes you feel calm.
Then, you should only go back to bed when youre ready to go back to sleep again, Raj Dasgupta, MD, a sleep expert and an assistant professor at the University of Southern Californias Keck School of Medicine, told Fox News.
2. Smoke. Hopefully youre already trying to quit, but lighting up because the craving is keeping you awake is a big mistake. Nicotine is a stimulant, and it also disrupts the circadian clock in the lungs and the brain, which can affect your cognition and lead to mood disorders, depression and anxiety, a 2014 study in The FASEB Journal found.
Smoking when youre groggy is also downright dangerous. Ive had patients who have fallen asleep in the midst of smoking on their coach, they dropped their cigarette and lit their carpet on fire, Dr. Christopher Winter, a sleep specialist and neurologist in Charlottesville, Virginia and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It, told Fox News.
3. Turn on the TV or a device. Watching late-night talk shows, checking your email or Facebook feed, or texting a friend is too stimulating when youre trying to fall asleep. The blue light emitted from electronics inhibits the release of melatonin, the hormone secreted in the brain thats responsible for maintaining the bodys circadian rhythm.
Technology is one of the main reasons why we have so many arousals and awakenings during the night, [and] why we have insomnia and sleep deprivation, Dasgupta said.
4. Eat a snack. Reaching into the refrigerator for a midnight snack can mess with your circadian rhythm and a full stomach can make it harder to sleep. Whats more, spicy foods will give you heartburn and anything with caffeine in it chocolate included can keep you up. Although alcohol will help you fall asleep faster, youll probably be awake again in no time. However, if hunger pangs are keeping you awake, its OK to have a snack such as yogurt with granola or a handful of nuts. A cup of chamomile tea can help relax you too. Drinking tart cherry juice in the morning and night may also help you get more sleep, research from Louisiana State University presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting suggests.
5. Go to the bathroom If you wake up and nature calls, by all means take care of business. But if you go to the bathroom when you really dont have to go, the bright lights can be too arousing and throw off your circadian rhythm.
If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night to go, put a dimmer switch or a nightlight in and on the way to the bathroom. If you have to urinate frequently and you also have discomfort or pain, make an appointment with your doctor because it could signal a problem with your prostate, Winter said.
6. Pop melatonin. Melatonin is touted as a magic sleep aid, but experts warn it should only be taken occasionally, such as when you need to adjust to a different time zone when youre traveling.
Melatonin shouldnt be taken right before bed either because thats not the time when the brain naturally secretes it, Winter said. Instead, take it when the sun sets or a few hours before you go to bed so youre ready to fall asleep when you need to.
To help your body make melatonin naturally, get as much sunshine during the day as possible by opening up your blinds and taking a walk at lunchtime. Then a few hours before you want to turn in, make your home as dim as possible and you should be able to drift off in no time.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.
AdStageannounced today that it has raised an additional $2 million from Verizon Ventures.
The company offers tools for businesses to manage their ad campaigns across Facebook, Google, Bing and elsewhere, and it says it’s currently managing $100 million in quarterly ad spend. CEO Sahil Jain recently told me that his goal is to create a broader marketing platform including content marketing, marketing automation and sales automation, as well as ads.
‘Girls’ creator Lena Dunham is the founder of ‘Lenny Letter.’
Image: Sipa via AP Images
Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter is spending the week talking about the importance of women in science thanks to a check from General Electric.
The web publication and newsletter kicked off a weeklong branded content deal its first ever with the industrial giant on Tuesday with a wide-ranging interview between Dunham and Beth Comstock, GE’s vice chair of business innovations.
The Girls creator asked Comstock about the state of women-focused media and marketing, hurdles and successes in her career and how GE helps women better break into technology and science.
The Fairfield, Connecticut company is mentioned often and the marketing message made unusually blunt for a piece of branded content, which typically keeps sponsors’ involvement subtle in the interest of luring advertising-adverse readers. Dunham’s tone keeps the interview light and colloquial, nonetheless.
But GE said its other installments look beyond the company to more broadly celebrate the role of women in the industry. The newsletter is rounding out the week with a sci-fi narrative from author Alice Sola Kim, an interview with Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani and GE technology-inspired art from Rachel Levit Ruiz.
GE has proven itself to be a big believer in this type of content marketing; it frequently buys article placements in online publications across the board and has even gone so far as to launch its own tech news site.
The company saw Lenny Letter as a creative way to reach a certain digitally tuned-in female audience, said Alexa Christon, GE’s head of media innovation.
“We were really impressed by ‘Lenny,'” Christon said. “They’re really pushing the envelope in sometimes difficult conversations. But also, they’re not a mass outlet. They go after a niche audience that is very, very engaged.”
Since Dunham and Jenni Konner founded it last fall, the feminism-focused publication has launched a website to compliment its biweekly newsletter and signed a major deal with Hearst to help sell display ads on it. At the time of the deal, the site also announced plans to build out more sponsored content.
Dunham has described the newsletter’s audience as “an army of like-minded intellectually curious women and the people who love them, who want to bring change but also want to know, like, where to buy the best tube top for summer that isnt going to cost your entire paycheck.”
Well-placed branded articles and videos and other advertising efforts have helped GE hone a brand image as a hub of science and innovation a helpful asset as the rise of tech titans like Google, Apple and Facebook threatens to make the 123-year-old Thomas Edison-founded corporation look stodgy in comparison.
“The company’s really pivoted over the past five or so years,” Christon said. “We’re really focused on where industry and big data combine and really pushing into a phrase that we use being ‘digital industrial.'”
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Sam Wolf moved his family's health and wellness business online more than a decade ago. The Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based company runs its own warehouse and sells thousands of nutrition products in dozens of countries through its own website as well as on Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. But all that know-how didn't quite prepare Wolf for the experience of selling into China through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s online stores.
Most small U.S. companies don't have the brand awareness in China to stand out among the millions of goods on Alibaba's websites, let alone the expertise that's required to take a product from a U.S. warehouse to a Chinese consumer's doorstep, cutting through the red tape to gain access to an otherwise inaccessible market. Alibaba is the virtual mall that houses the brands, but sellers are in charge of production and distribution with little clarity on the demand for their wares.
"If you want to get rich quick selling into China, this is not the way to do it,'' said Wolf, who started LuckyVitamin's online store in 2005. “There's investment up front and inherent risk. This is not just like selling products on Amazon and EBay where you just sign up and list."
Still, entrepreneurs like Wolf are the sellers Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma wants to woo when he arrives in Detroit this week for his company's Gateway conference. The two-day event is drawing thousands of U.S. business owners, from farmers to managers of more established brands, to learn how to succeed in China through Alibaba. For Ma, it's following through on a promise he made to U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year to create one million jobs in the U.S.
While Ma's offer was seen as good diplomacy after Trump's tough campaign talk on trade and tariffs with China, it wasn't purely altruistic. Ma has big ambitions. He sees Alibaba turning itself into one of the world's most powerful economies by serving 2 billion people and helping 10 million small businesses trade on the web. By his own calculation, Ma says China will only be able to provide 40 percent of that market. The rest will have to be found overseas.
That's what brings China's richest man to America's heartland. The event will feature speeches from Ma himself and his executive team, as well as United Parcel Service Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Abney, Martha Stewart, and panels with small U.S. businesses like Wolf's that are already selling on one of Alibaba’s virtual malls. Alibaba offers sellers the opportunity to reach the almost half-a-billion shoppers on its sites, but the path to those consumers is full of hurdles, from the language barrier to differences in understanding the Chinese buyer.
Alibaba already has hundreds of thousands of U.S.-based companies registered on Alibaba.com, a business-to-business platform primarily used for sourcing, and more than 7,000 brands across its online stores including Tmall Global, where companies sell directly to consumers. Taobao Global is another Alibaba virtual store, where more niche international brands can list online. LuckyVitamin started offering its products on Tmall during Alibaba's annual one-day shopping blow-out, called Singles' Day, last November. LuckyVitamin got just one order that day.
Since then, LuckyVitamin's sales from China have grown in line with some of its other newer markets, though China is still a small portion of overall sales. Wolf describes working with Alibaba as starting a whole new business, rather than just tacking on a new sales channel. The company has had to enlist the help of various third parties to deal with translation, regulation, logistics. In addition to paying those partners, there's significant setup work and transaction fees that LuckyVitamin has to pay, according to Wolf.
The Gateway conference, the first that Alibaba says it plans to host annually, is meant to make the daunting task of selling through Alibaba easier for small businesses. The event will walk sellers through the process and connect them with partners like international trade specialists and logistics experts.
Persuading companies like LuckyVitamin to sign on could help Ma fulfill his employment pledge to Trump. On a conference call with journalists last month, Ma noted that Alibaba has created more than 33 million direct and indirect jobs for China, so he's confident he can create 1 million positions in the U.S. over the next five years.
"We are positive that this week’s conference will be the beginning of helping a large number of additional U.S. small businesses reach the more than 500 million Chinese consumers who are hungry for high-quality American products," an Alibaba spokesman said in a statement. "This will help create more American jobs and drive more demand for U.S. products."
Wolf says that LuckyVitamin, which currently has about 200 employees, has added about half a dozen workers since starting to sell on Tmall. It's impossible to say how much of that growth is attributed to Alibaba, Wolf says, since as overall sales have been increasing domestically and in more than 30 countries, it's unavoidable that the company would hire more people for customer service and in its distribution centers to pack and ship inventory.
"Would I say that this has created more jobs?" Wolf asks. "We've definitely created jobs but I can't exactly say because of what.'' Still, Wolf does concede that selling in China is “absolutely driving the business and sales."
Baozun Inc. is one of the many companies that help international brands like Burberry and Calvin Klein sell online to Chinese consumers. Backed by Alibaba, Baozun takes care of the process for companies from start to finish, including website design, customer service, technology infrastructure, warehousing and delivery, and marketing. Though publicly traded Baozun mostly works with large multinational brands, it's hoping to attract more boutique sellers as a result of Alibaba's push in the U.S.
"The obstacle here is complexity; It's very hard to understand" the process of selling into China through Alibaba, said Baozun CEO Vincent Qiu. "It's very challenging for a small-, medium-sized enterprise to do it themselves. There's a lot of knowledge and experience that's lacking."
Qiu says that the trickiest part about working with smaller companies is developing brand awareness among Chinese shoppers. Niche brands on Tmall won't get much traffic unless Baozun does heavy content marketing on their behalf, he said.
Christopher Tang, a professor at University of California at Los Angeles's Anderson School of Management, is skeptical that there is even enough demand for small U.S. brands in China. Aside from fresh produce that Chinese consumers are increasingly buying overseas for more variety and higher quality – like Pacific Northwest cherries, Washington State apples, and Alaskan seafood – Tang says shoppers have access to enough products online.
"The market for goods is already saturated,'' Tang said. “If you try to introduce brands in China from America that aren't well-known, I don't think Chinese consumers are going to be excited about it.''
For more on China's tech industry, check out the podcast:
[Editor’s note: Spoilers for The Walking dead throughout.]
Its bleak and we both know it the kind of soul-crushing downer that goes way beyond horror and into something more existential and emotionally haunting.
The twists are exciting, sure, but its not so much the unexpected that scares us; its the stuff we saw coming or (in retrospect) the stuff we should have seen coming. Theres happiness from time to time bright triumphs of human spirit and social ingenuity but if were honest, those moments, just like everything else, are short lived.
According to the Startup Genome Report, the survival rate for startups is a mere 10%. Put more starkly: 90% of all startups die within their first three years. (Oh, did you think we were talking about something else?)
Its bloody, sweaty, tear-filled work but once youre hooked, good luck turning away.
The question is: What do startups have to do with a pop-culture phenomenon like The Walking Dead?
Turns out, everything.
In fact, there are at least four lessons everybodys favorite post-apocalyptic horror-scape can teach you about surviving as a startup. Here they are in all their unsettling glory.
Never fall into a coma (or get caught sleepin)
Rick Grimes nightmare like most zombieland protagonists begins with a wake up. Hes alone, disoriented, and (as usual) oily. The world has changed, and not for the good.
The lesson here is obvious, but many startup founders still ignore it. Whether your niche is B2C, B2B, SaaS, or old-fashioned ecommerce doesnt really matter the world changes fast. Everyday a new technological evolution emerges: Drones, self-driving cars, holograms, dynamic online personalization, VR, AR, AI, and a host of other acronyms. And that doesnt even factor in trends in the wider culture.
Daniel Marlin from Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post puts it like this: The same rings true for the changing landscape of start-ups. Consumers evolve, corporate hierarchies adjust and sometimes cease to exist altogether in favour of a more dynamic structure.
The best way to stay awake is to combine two approaches. First, take advantage of social-listening and online alert tools to systematize paying attention, both to your industry and pop-culture trends. Barring this automated approach, new developments will inevitably fall through the cracks.
Second, regardless of your niche, service, or product, do whatever you can to move towards an agile workflow. First used in car manufacturing and then applied to technological development, agile prioritizes iterative testing, runs on tight feedback loops that include real users, and puts decision making in the hands of the people who are closest to the problem being solved.
In truth, these two steps are the only way to ensure you dont wake up to a future thats passed you by or one thats stalking your death.
Never hesitate to murder your darlings (even if its your mom)
In a show full of heart-wrenching scenes, few stand out like the death of Lori Grimes. Matricide is a bold move for any plot, but immediately after giving birth well, brutal doesnt really do it justice.
And yet, however brutal it may have been, one of the keys to surviving The Walking Dead is to do whatevers necessary, when its necessary, sometimes to even those we hold most dear.
The same is true for startups.
Part of what fuels startups is the belief in an idea. Such belief is crucial when it comes to enduring the inevitable ups and downs that confront all founders. The trouble is that belief especially dogmatic, hard-headed, despite what everyone says I know its brilliant has a darkside you might not expect: Love.
When we come to love our ideas themselves, not the solutions they aim to offer, we become blind. We lost sight of what really matters: not products, not promotions, not methods outcomes. In his 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures, On the Art of Writing, Arthur Quiller-Couch was the first to coin the phrase murder your darlings, and Stephen King took it one step further, Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.
As hard as it is to watch on the small screen, following that advice is even more difficult in the real world. Brittany Berger head of content and PR at Mention offers this advice as an antidote: You need to remember that you do not matter. Separating myself from my work has been key in helping me make decisions based on business instead of emotion.
Case in point, one of Brittanys darlings was Mentions weekly Twitter chat. As a social media startup, that makes perfect sense. The only problem was, it didnt deliver any bottomline results. Popularity can fuel our egos and certainly has a role to play in marketing and PR but if it doesnt deliver, its time to break out the machete.
37Signals founder Jason Fried nails this fundamental principle: Start getting into the habit of saying noeven to many of your best ideas. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no. But you often wind up regretting saying yes.
In other words, be ruthless with the ideas you love. The more you love them, the more dangerous they can become.
Never make a bad situation worse (and it can always get worse)
As disturbing as Carl Grimes’s matricide was, Season 7s premiere The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be took it to a whole new level. After the long-awaited arrival of Negan, Abrahams folksie, profanity-laced wisdom was the first to fall victim to Lucielle.
Bad situation? Yes. But does it gets worse? Indeed.
In a fit of justified outrage, everybodys favorite unfortunate son, Daryl Dixon, rises up. He cant help himself, and we get it. Unfortunately all the righteous indignation in the world wont help when youre outnumbered and outgunned. Driven back to the gravel, we wait for the hammer or, more accurately, the bat to drop.
However, in lieu of Daryl, Glenn is the second to go (complete with some serious eye-bulging and character-breaking guilt for Daryl).
The lesson? No matter how bad a situation is, our tempers, resentments, fears, and especially our mouths can always make it far worse. Whats more, the stress levels inherent to startups makes this an even more pressing concern.
Lively discussion is one thing. And fostering a culture of disagreement is essential. But those two ingredients only take shape in the shadow of another: Safety. Combining two unlikely sources the first cast of Saturday Night Live and Google Charles Duhigg calls attention to the crying need of safety in successful organizations: [M]ost important, teams need psychological safety. To create psychological safety team leaders needed to model the right behaviors.
These behaviors include deceptively subtle habits like not interrupting team members, ensuring everyone has equal time to participate, and especially calling out intergroup conflicts and resolving them through open discussion. Notice that each is about what leaders dont say, biting their tongues and pushing back against their own knee-jerk reactions.
Its obvious you dont want to be a Negan-style leader, but the Daryls inside all of us are far more likely to make things go from bad to worse within a startup.
Never go in alone (ever)
While the previous lessons all come from some specific high points in The Walking Dead, we could easily locate this one in every episode ever. Dodging zombies might get you out a sticky situation now and then, but finding food, fire, shelter, weapons, medicine, and transportation is not a single player sport. And that doesnt even include the threat that comes from other people.
Simply put: If you go in alone youre not coming out.
As with zombies, so with startups. Launching a successful product or service is just the first fight. You also have to develop sales, marketing, and public relations as well as run bookkeeping, accounting and finance. Theres funding, operations, hiring and firing, building and then maintaining QA on a website, customer service, and most daunting scaling. The list goes on and on and on.
In the words of Leonard Kim, one of Inc. Magazines top digital and youth marketers: If you’re thinking of doing a startup yourself, then you have absolutely no clue what you’re in store for. I’ve spent most my adult life doing startups and and if I can admit I don’t know how to do so many of these things, then it’s okay for you to do the same.
Admitting our ignorance doesnt just apply to teams, it also applies to partners. After getting burnt early on in his career by a bad choice, Mashable contributor Josh Steimle took a hardline and decided to go it alone in his own agency. As he explains: I struggled for the next 10 years, never really getting anywhere. Finally, in 2013 I relented and brought in a partner. A year later revenue was three times larger than it had ever been before because I invested in the right person that excelled where I couldnt.
More than just surviving
Of course, at the end of the day, you want your startup to do more than just outlast the 90% who dont make it. You also want to thrive.
How? By paying close attention to what might at first appear to be an unlikely source: The Walking Dead. First, stay awake to trends and innovations. Second, say no even to your most-loved ideas. Third, cultivate safety instead of making bad situations worse. And fourth, surround yourself with people who can address your own weakness.
Theres no denying its bloody, sweaty, tear-filled work. Robin Chase was right: Challenges are the norm. But if Maggie Rhee can bring new life into an all but dead world so can you.
Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.