The Hustle

🎧 The buck stops hear

Plus: How vending machines make money, a $100k microphone tossed by Cardi B, don’t take this kitten’s bottle, and more.

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Section 471 of the US Criminal Code prohibits printing money, but Ikea is apparently above the law — the Swedish home store launched its first Halloween decor line, and if you think you aren’t going to see their $2.99 spider tealight holders everywhere this fall, you’re fooling yourself.

In today’s email:

  • OOO and ahhs: It’s scary how few vacation days Americans take.
  • Dispensing wisdom: The economics of vending machines.
  • Mic drop: Podcasting needs a new business model.
  • Around the Web: Calculator heaven for DIY-ers, what are pseudo-snacks and why can’t you eat them, and more.

👇 Listen: A podcast about the business of podcasting? How gauche!

The big idea

Why our vacation days have been vanishing

Most Americans have access to paid vacation days, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually taking ‘em off.
Sara Friedman

While Instagram might have us thinking everyone is boating in Lake Como this summer, that’s actually far from the truth.

Instead of splish-splashing with George Clooney, most employees are getting their R&R from watching Netflix on their second monitor — at best.

Per The Washington Post, American workers are taking fewer vacation days than ever before.

And the numbers back it up: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the workforce taking vacation in a given week has fallen from 3.3% in 1980 to 1.7% today.

What’s driving vacay’s vanishing act?

  • Some workers fear for their job security and don’t want to appear expendable.
  • Others don’t bother with vacation days knowing the always-on nature of technology will keep them mentally engaged in their work anyway.
  • Vacation time is often bucketed into PTO along with sick and personal days, making many employees nervous to use it should they need it in an emergency.

All that means days left on the table: BLS data shows that more than 90% of full-time, private-industry employees have access to paid vacation time, and that the average number of vacation days offered by employers has gone up.

This all explains the newest corporate buzzword…

… Workation. (We don’t like the sound of it either.)

Coined to describe the act of working from a vacation spot, workations have become increasingly popular as more companies roll out “work from anywhere” perks.

And businesses are finding other creative ways to make sure their employees kick up their feet, from partially reimbursing vacations to instating annual PTO minimums.

So go ahead, log off. But, unfortunately for all of us, there’s no talk yet of banning the “circling back” after you return.


An audio tech sold the microphone Cardi B chucked at a fan who threw a drink at her for ~$100k on eBay. The proceeds will go to two charities, Friendship Circle Las Vegas and The Wounded Warrior Project. Apparently, the mic still works.


Big bet: Penn Entertainment put $2B on the line to land the biggest name in sports — ESPN — as the front for its sports betting network. Its four-year goal for ESPN Bet? Owning ~20% of the online sports gambling market.

Hmm: Several authors claim books with their name on them — but which they didn’t write — are appearing on Amazon and Goodreads. They suspect they’re AI-generated scams, but have found them surprisingly difficult to get removed.

“Loud laborers” is the latest workplace buzzword, referring to co-workers who talk a lot about work but seem to do very little of it. So, basically, “quiet quitters” but more annoying.

Verizon paid ~$400m for videoconferencing app BlueJeans in 2020. It may have seemed like a hot time to invest in such tech, but now, Verizon is shutting it down.

Lawsuit: Gizmodo editor-in-chief Daniel Ackerman is suing Apple, alleging that its 2023 film Tetris plagiarizes his 2016 book The Tetris Effect with the “exact same feel, tone, approach, and scenes.”

Taco Bell is giving away free food to celebrate the end of Taco John’s trademark on “Taco Tuesday” — but not in New Jersey, where Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar refuses to give it up.

Google’s redesigned Arts & Culture app includes games, photo filters, and AI-generated “Poem Postcards” users can send to friends. It’s currently available on Android, with iOS coming soon.

Stock brokers and children may not agree on Roblox — shares of the popular kids’ gaming platform dipped Wednesday as Q2 results missed analyst expectations — but hey, they’ll always have one thing in common: waiting all day for a closing bell.


Choosing your leadership style is about understanding what motivates your team. One strong option, used by corporations from Microsoft and Starbucks to the Green Bay Packers, is transactional leadership.


Watch: The economics of vending machines

These sly snack-slingers have mastered the art of extracting $2.99 from your pocket for a bag of air and some chips.

But how does it all work? In this “Hustlenomics” episode, we’re peeling back the wrapper, crunching the numbers, dispensing the insights — OK, you get it — on the vending machine business and the people behind them.

To whet your appetite:

  • There are ~5m machines in the US today.
  • The latest figures show the US vending machine market being worth $10B.
  • Some machine operators make up to ~$8k/year per machine; we’ll introduce you to one man who has 47 of them.

How do these machines turn your innocent cravings into cash cows faster than you can say, “Insert coins here?”

Watch the quick clip →
Free Resource

Take your vacation: 50 out-of-office email templates

Whether you’re calling it sabbatical, sick days, or a spur-of-the-moment getaway, we’re helping you finesse the format.

Take 50 OOO email examples for setting expectations, staying professional, and leaving like a solid office friend. These options emit positive impressions for dozens of dillydallying scenarios…

… and serious ones, too — business trips, fieldwork, and bereavement all included. But hopefully, you are reclaiming what it means to slack.

50 ways to take a break 🏖️ →
Plea in a pod

Podcasting has a big money problem

More people are listening than ever before — but the ad market has dried up.
Ben Berkley

Podcasts are more popular than ever. Among listeners, anyway.

For many creators and production companies, it sure doesn’t feel that way: The money that sustains their shows has slowed to a halt.

What’s going on?

The last decade or so has been a golden age for podcasting, as shows like Serial popularized the medium and took it mainstream.

Today, 64% of Americans say they’re podcast listeners.

(BTW: 0% of respondents say they listen to the podcast of their favorite daily newsletter, but that’s only because they weren’t asked.)

This listening boom saw media companies pour lots of money into audio; Spotify notably invested $1B+ in podcast acquisitions and celebrity deals.

But this year, those investments have scaled back — hard.

  • In March, layoffs at NPR led to the cancellation of four popular podcasts.
  • In June, Spotify laid off 200 employees from its podcast division, shuttering some of its major shows.
  • This month, SiriusXM will officially shut down its once-popular podcast player, Stitcher.

Where did things go wrong?

Put simply: advertisers are no longer footing the bill.

The monetization model for most podcasts took power away from their listeners.

  • With shows distributed for free, fans haven’t been the ones exchanging money to keep their favorite shows going — that’d be corporations and advertisers.

Now, that market is in a state of correction.

With a recession looming over the past year, advertising budgets have been among the first to go for companies looking to curb spending.

The podcast industry has watched that happen in real time this year.

The silver lining here: podcasting isn’t going anywhere — it just needs a more sustainable business model.

Want more like this? Subscribe to our new sibling newsletter, The Lead, delivering marketing trends, tips, and tactics to inboxes every Wednesday.


🎸 On this day: In 1937, G.D. Beauchamp received a patent for the Rickenbacker Frying Pan, or what was essentially an electric guitar.

🛠️ Useful: A bunch of construction calculators for all your DIY needs.

🍬 That’s interesting: The “pseudo-snack” — those gimmicky, shocking treats companies release to much fanfare, but that hardly anyone gets to eat.

📅 Cure boredom: The New York Times has a new game. “Flashback” requires players to place historic events in chronological order.

😼 Aww: TFW you don’t wanna share.


The entire 18-35 demo isn’t hanging on your every word. We’re pretty confident about this. (Link)


Help your friends aboard our growing pirate ship. Share The Hustle Daily to start winning loot.

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Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}


Laptop lookin’ sparse? Water bottle lookin’… clear?

You’re only {{5-contact.referral_count}} referrals away from your first Hustle swag, Sam’s Stickers. Slap a few of these bad boys on the ol’ laptop and let everyone in the coffee shop know that you know. You know?

Spread the news. Help us grow 🌱

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Look at you, smarty pants. You’ve already shared The Hustle with {{contact.referral_count}} friends and enemies.

We’d love to take you out for drinks, but that involves some unsightly logistics. So here’s what we’ve got planned instead.

Get {{10-contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll send you a tumbler stamped with The Hustle logo.

You’ll be sippin’ in style soon enough. Here’s your link.


Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}


You’re only {{15-contact.referral_count}} referrals away from earning our signature dad hat meant for ladies, gents, and dads alike to show folks they’re in the club.

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You’re getting dangerously close to the most coveted item in Hustle-land: The Hustle Television Hooded Sweatshirt.

The fabric? Luxurious. The cut? Relaxed, yet refined. The message? Indisputable.

Share this link with {{25 – contact.referral_count}} more of your friends to get the goods:



Damn, you’re on a roll.

You’ve got the tumbler. You’ve got the hat and hoodie to match. It’s time to beef up that collection, don’t you think?

Get {{35 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll send you our cozy new swag bundle: The Hustle Hooded Long Sleeve and Island Design Tee. These relaxing tops would be great accessories for your next island trip (if you get that far *wink*).

Share this link to get the goods:



Hey, we see you. You’re out there spreading the gospel of The Hustle like it’s nobody’s business. Seems like you might be ready for a little more…

Get {{75 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll slide you a free subscription to Trends.

And no, this ain’t an ad. We just think you’re the kinda person who would thrive in our top-tier community (it’s usually $299) full of founders, investors, and builders (AKA ambitious, no B.S. business folks like you) — and enjoy our premium research and content.

Here’s that link you’ll need:



Well, well. Look who’s climbing the ladder. We’re so proud.

You seem like the kind of person who can work a network. So you’ve landed an opportunity to bag The Hustle’s grand prize.

Get {{1000 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and you’ve got yourself a free $1,500 airline gift card to the destination of your choosing – plus a set of Tumi luggage for all your favorite things.

If you’re not sure where you wanna go… better start looking.

You’re just {{1000 – contact.referral_count}} referrals away.

Here’s that special link one more time:


Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett RylahLestraundra AlfredSara Friedman, .
Editing by: Ben “Taking pod’s name in vain” Berkley.

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