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The Hustle

A Massachusetts library has its copy of James Clerk Maxwell’s An Elementary Treatise on Electricity back 119 years later; it was last checked out Feb. 14, 1904. The New Bedford Free Public Library’s max late fee is $2 — a relief for someone as the 5 cents/day late fee would’ve otherwise added up to $2.1k+.

In today’s email:

  • Lazy management: Big Tech’s big apathy problem.
  • Swept off their feet: Even Nike isn’t immune to volatile markets.
  • Haute dogs: Making a case for the dish of the summer.
  • Around the Web: How to travel solo, Indiana Jones v. real-life archaeology, and more.

👇 Listen: Nothing is topping hot dogs this summer. Why?

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The Big Idea
woman sleeping

‘Lazy management’ vs. ‘fake work’

I had a surly manager at a diner who used to love to say, “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.”

Yeah, no one liked him.

But the tech industry may be suffering from the opposite problem. Is the real story behind “fake work” — i.e., the output of well-paid tech workers who do nothing all day — actually “lazy management”?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Insider spoke to a former Amazon research scientist who earned $300k+/year doing squat. Vox reported on a man in fintech who spends most of his day on naps, housework, and TV.

Both were down to work, but no one gave them anything to do.

Why not ask for more? In 2023 alone, 216k+ tech workers have been laid off as the pandemic’s everything-online era has cooled. People aren’t exactly keen to announce there’s not enough work for their position.

Why does this happen?

Sometimes, it’s the ebb and flow of projects and seasons. But often, it’s not workers slacking but managers not managing efficiently — and there are a lot of reasons for that.

If they’re overworked, maybe they don’t notice. Maybe they dislike confrontation. Maybe they’re promotion-driven, boosting head counts without offering guidance or producing results.

In some cases, there may be too few managers; in others, too many, gumming up progress.

Why is this a problem?

Getting paid to do nothing sounds great, but it can be harmful:

  • Sidelined employees struggle to develop their careers, missing promotions, awards, and other milestones. They also face layoffs.
  • Meanwhile, resentment can build among overworked employees.

What can be done?

Experts say restructuring can help, but it’s also about shifting a company’s culture — e.g., aligning incentives with goals, increasing transparency and communication, and properly defining roles.

And, ahem, maybe not always blaming workers.

Fun fact: The Trainee is a documentary in which performance artist Pilvi Takala does nothing in Deloitte’s marketing department for a month.

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eyeball wearing a hat

A bigger boat: Royal Caribbean plans to debut the world’s biggest cruise ship in January. The ~1.2k-foot-long behemoth can accommodate 5.6k guests and 2.3k+ crew members, but all we can think about is Triangle of Sadness.


TodAI in AI: Google is testing its Med-PaLM 2 AI chatbot at hospitals including the Mayo Clinic. Trained on medical licensing exams and demos, it can answer questions, summarize documents, and organize data.

Meanwhile, comedian Sarah Silverman and authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey are the latest to sue OpenAI and Meta, alleging both trained AI on their copyrighted works.

RIP, Gfycat: The long-running site for making, uploading, and sharing GIFs told users to save their content before the service shuts down on Sept. 1. Snap acquired Gfycat in 2020.

Meta’s Threads cracked 100m+ users over the weekend, including the student banned from Twitter for tracking Elon Musk’s private jet. Meanwhile, Twitter traffic is “tanking,” per Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince.

The jitters: Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the FDA to investigate  Logan Paul and KSI’s Prime Energy drinks, which have 2x more caffeine than Red Bull and are extremely popular among children.

The First Bank of the United States in Philadelphia received $22.2m in federal funding to transform into a US history museum. Built in the 1790s, it hasn’t been open to the public in ~50 years.

Unplugged: US EV inventory has increased ~350% this year, but sales aren’t keeping pace, per Cox Automotive. Just ask Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, which moved just 18 of its ~$82k electric G80 sedans last month.

Cheesed off: Kraft Heinz Co. is hopping on the plant-based bandwagon with its new non-dairy NotCheese Slices, which — well, it’s right there in the name — aren’t actually made of cheese.

Email marketing 101: You know we’re hardcore fans. Swipe this textbook-classic intro to email marketing to start winning in the inbox.


Why does it feel like it takes months to build a good habit, but a mere 24 hours to break it? Good or bad, habits can be tricky to tackle, so here’s a crash course to get you started.

Nike and S&P performance over time
Olivia Heller

Nike looks to clear some hurdles and hit its stride

In one sense, the Nike brand feels strong as ever. We’re watching movies about Air Jordan’s origin story; revenue in fiscal 2023, up 10% to $51.2B, passed the $50B mark for the first time.

But dig deeper and you’ll see a sneaker behemoth trying to find its footing.

Nike’s new balance sheet

In 2020, Air Jordan 1 Highs were reselling for a 61% premium and Nike’s stock was standing tall. Today, those Jordans are being discounted and the stock is down ~40% from its peak.

Net income fell 16% in fiscal 2023, and margins fell slightly as input costs rose. The company’s 2024 outlook came in lower than hoped. Fewer Wall Street analysts are recommending the stock, per Bloomberg.

One challenge: managing and maximizing Nike’s $8.5B worth of inventory, up 23% from 2021.

Sole mates

Another challenge is the continued onslaught of ugly European sneakers.

  • Hoka — acquired by Deckers Brands, owner of Ugg and Teva, in 2012 for a reported $1.1m — now generates $1.4B annually.
  • Ski boot maker-turned-trendy footwear brand Salomon led the 2022 list of fastest-growing brands on StockX, up ~2.3k%. Hoka came in second, up 713%.
  • Swiss brand On grew revenue 69% last year to $1.3B and expects to hit $1.8B+ this year.

Changes afoot: Nike restructured its executive suite in May to “deliver breakthrough innovation,” so a new era of ambitious Nike products may soon be upon us.

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Free Resource

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Get ready to learn a ton, and have some fun. Take 15% off general admission tickets (new purchases only) with code THEHUSTLE2023, and we’ll see you there this September.

Get your ticket to INBOUND 🟠 →
Glizzying Heights
hot dogs

Hot dogs are making their stand

Hot dogs are having a moment. So much so that The Wall Street Journal declared franks “the ‘it’ restaurant order” of the summer.

America’s favorite meat tubes require no introduction — US consumers already buy 900m+ pounds of them annually, per the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

  • Perhaps an etiquette brush-up is required? The NHDSC has a guide for that. (Apparently standard hot dogs should need no more than five bites?)

July is the wieniest month

No month rivals this one — National Hot Dog Month, naturally — in hot dog sales, thanks to the July Fourth holiday.

  • NHDSC estimates 150m hot dogs — supposedly enough to stretch from DC to LA 5x — are consumed on average each Independence Day.

But could hot dogs become a year-round phenomenon? Maybe.

Hot dogs are taking off in restaurants nationwide

Why? They’re a great vessel for nostalgia and novelty — and both are good for business.

  • Regional chains that position hot dogs as a comfort food — namely, Wienerschnitzel and Portillo’s — are expanding nationally, per The Takeout.
  • Growing franchises like Five Guys and Shake Shack — devoted to hot dog’s frenemy, the hamburger — are gaining attention for slinging dogs as well.
  • Costco’s $1.50 hot dog combo, a popular draw, isn’t going anywhere — at least not if its employees want to remain among the living.
  • Also a draw: exotic hot dog varieties, with MLB ballparks engaged in a gross, endless arms race. (The weirdest belongs to the Cleveland Guardians, who sell a dog topped with Froot Loops and pimento mac and cheese.)
  • There’s also that viral NYC hot dog that costs $29.

One note on hot dog innovation: Keep it coming, please. Seeking inspiration? Look to Phoenix’s Short Leash, which serves its hot dogs on naan rather than typical buns.

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🚀 On this day: In 1979, pieces of US space station Skylab crashed over Australia and the Indian Ocean, five years after its final mission. Its crew left Earth in 1973 and spent 700+ hours observing and photographing the sun. Luckily, no one was injured.

🤠 That’s interesting: A real archaeologist explains what’s accurate and what’s not when it comes to fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones.

🤯 Video: This round home in La Mesa, California, rotates. It’s also for sale, if you have $5.3m.

🏖️ How to: Travel tips for solo adventures.

🐦 Aww: Yes, really.

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“I applied for this job bec–… No, we aren’t using that chair. Go ahead.” (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Always up for a frank discussion” Berkley.

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