Consulting is getting a new look

May 15, 2020
The Hustle

News broke this week that Mary-Kate Olsen filed for divorce from her husband, Olivier Sarkozy. Womp womp. Their marriage may be over, but their party favors will not be forgotten — you don’t see “bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes” at just any wedding. If you’ve encountered anything stranger than THAT, please share it with us. Now if you’ll excuse us… *dips hand into colander of Juul pods*

PS: We’re launching something cool on Monday. Keep an eye out.

Hired Hands

The social distancing consultant will see you now

Sometime last month, architects and interior designers everywhere traded in their old job titles for a shiny new one: Social distancing consultant.

After a binge-read of the CDC’s reopening guidelines, they’ve started shopping out their skills to restaurants, airlines, and malls — businesses that need to reinvent themselves for a 6-feet-apart world. 

Pandemic planners are in high demand: Companies only have so much space to play around with.

Without statistical models to guide them, you can imagine restaurant employees crawling across the floor with rulers in hand on their first day back to work.

Your consultant friend can finally explain what they do 

Countless firms have leaned into the rebrand, and their clients can’t get enough: 

  • The design giant Gensler launched a $600+/month service called ReRun, which helps companies sort through the employees that most need to return to work and rejiggers office space to fit them. 
  • When WeWork needed to redo its office, it rang Arup, an architecture and engineering firm, to produce a 16-page reopening booklet.
  • The MASS Design Group is deploying its Covid-19 Response Team to help hospitals clean their workspaces. One idea: Kill germs with an army of ultraviolet lights.
  • Even SimpliFlying, a company that once specialized in offering social media strategy to airlines, now gets much of its income from shelling out social distancing tips.

The consultants recommend buying a raft of social distancing tools — like giant stickers that remind people to stay apart, and a whole lot of thermal scanners. Other jobs could soon take off — like in-flight janitors.

But the new consulting frontier is still a mixed bag  

Other players are pivoting in the opposite direction: B2B companies are leapfrogging CEOs and pitching straight to employees who work from home. They’re offering virtual fitness classes, mental health services, and — of course — refillable snack supplies.

If you’re thinking of hiring a consultant, keep in mind: Hardware like buzzing wristbands may be nice, but you can still find low-tech social distancing solutions on the cheap.

To keep its customers apart, a German cafe is handing out hats equipped with foam pool noodles

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Sunday Sneak Peek

Panic buying comes in many flavors — lately, grocery stores have run short on eggs and meat. But did you know people are panic buying live chickens?

It’s true — and our contributing writer Caroline Dohack will tell you all about it. You’ll meet the companies benefiting from the chick-o-nomic boom, like Rent the Chicken (no, Rent the Runway didn’t pivot to poultry). You’ll meet some birds (like Princess Laya and Hen Solo). And you’ll learn why chicks give their caretakers more than the eggs they bargained for. 

While you wait for the story to hatch in your inbox on Sunday morning, this week’s preview will whet your appetite. Watch it here.

Channel Shopping

Only for a limited time: Home shopping TV is taking over retail

No slight to the Bon Appétit test kitchen, but there’s a new sheriff for home cooks: ShopHQ.

In March, the TV network debuted “Learning to Cook with Shaq” to some of its highest ratings in 10 months — and the show has quickly become a centerpiece of a home-shopping golden age.

Qurate Retail, which owns both QVC and HSN, has seen viewership jump 10% since late March. ShopHQ reported similar increases, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Retail is hurting, TV is hurting, but — oddly — the peak-‘90s hybrid of the 2 is doing… surprisingly well. 

Everyone wants that sweet, sweet money-back guarantee

The magic of QVC, HSN, and ShopHQ right now is that they sell products, not ads. QVC’s US culinary sales are up 40%, and its US yard and outdoor space listings are bringing in 65% more than last year.

Compared to other TV channels, their viewer gains are small. The Food Network, HGTV, and TLC are seeing bigger ratings jumps, but the flagging ad market is setting them back.

The parent company of those cable stalwarts, Discovery, Inc., lost 20% in ad revenue over the same period.

Meanwhile, live sales shows are kickstarting economies across the world. Chinese companies, for instance, are recruiting farmers to live-stream their produce sales like — who else — a QVC host.

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The most important thing to have during the COVID crisis

It’s not toilet paper. It’s life insurance.

You know, that thing specifically designed to protect you against unforeseen circumstances…this is kinda exactly the situation it was designed for. 

But if you’re like us, you’re thinking of waiting on getting it until the next worldwide health crisis. Because, you know, thinking about mortality sucks… and also we’d rather binge Ozark Season 3. 

Here’s a pro tip: don’t do that. 

Make it easy, and save money with Policygenius

We really don’t know how to explain just how good Policygenius is, so maybe you should just trust us and check it out for yourself — they’ve somehow made comparing life insurance almost fun. 

Plus, if you ever plan on having life insurance (looking at you everyone who plans on having kids), now is hands-down the best time to buy it. Rates are at 20-year lows, so you’re looking at savings of $1,500/year. 

Take 2 minutes and make one of the best money decisions of your life. Then you can resume Netflix-ing. 

Compare rates →
Scratch That

An unusual bright spot in the gambling biz: People are itching for scratch-off tickets

Here’s a nickel’s worth of good news for state-budget bean counters: We’re buying piles and piles of scratch-off tickets, according to Stateline.

For the week ending May 2, lottery sales in Texas hit $146m — one of the highest totals since January 2016. They were driven by an all-time increase in scratch-offs (up 24% from last year).

The itch for instant gratification is powerful

The gambling industry folded like a house of cards after the pandemic drove everyone into isolation, and it’s just now inching back to the blackjack table.

Wagering on sports is basically off the table, unless you fancy Korean baseball (running a solid 2nd in popularity to Russian ping-pong, says the sportsbook director at William Hill). 

Big multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball have reduced the size of jackpots with fewer players buying tickets.

There’s little left to do but grab your lucky penny and your Magic 8 Ball Bingo — and hope your lucky numbers match.

But does scratching relieve the itch?

Lottery critics and medical experts agree: Scratching won’t help, especially for people who are in rough financial shape. The critics say it’s no streak of dumb luck that the spike coincided with the arrival of people’s stimulus checks.

That said, the scratching frenzy does provide some relief for state budgets. In most cases, lottery revenues make up less than 2% of the pie — but these days, every dollar counts.

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Weekend Wasters

Westworld is over, and that means one thing — we need something else to do with our Sundays. Here are a few odds and ends to help you whittle away the weekend. 


Skribbl is like Pictionary, except 1) it’s totally free, 2) it’s entirely online, and 3) you will somehow get much, much more aggravated. Copy the link, share with your friends, and keep a stress ball handy. 


Trail Run Project is a community-sourced website and app that has more than 229,170 miles of trails just waiting for you to run. Fresh air + plenty of isolation + a good workout = recipe for success.


This music challenge from The Pudding (wow, what a name) will test how well you recognize hit songs through the years. If you close your eyes, it’s almost like you’re at a concert again… almost. 


Listen to me, because I’m only going to say this once: DO. NOT. CUT. YOUR. OWN. HAIR. UNLESS. YOU. HAVE. A. FLOWBEE. 

Behind The Hustle

Our mild encounters of the Hollywood kind

What’s your most mundane encounter with a celebrity? Inspired by the hilarious replies to a viral tweet this week, we decided to put the question to the Hustle crew on our Slack:

Pro wrestler Booker T lined up behind a young Bobby in a grocery checkout line, “palming a whole gallon of milk like an apple.” Bobby recalls the exchange: 

  • Me: Are you Booker T?
  • Him: Yes.
  • Me: OK.

A thief stole Steph’s stuff in an airport. While deciding what to do next, she asked a woman sitting next to her: “Oh hey, are you Ginny Weasley?” (Her real name is Bonnie Wright, and she was NOT amused.)

Trung was tongue-tied after tapping Kurt Russell on the shoulder: “He turned to me and I said: ‘Tombstone was tight!’” (Trung’s friends now use that legendary line whenever a convo turns awkward).

Zack dropped a 9-word bomb: “Saw Kanye West buying sandals at a mall once.”

Ben: “I saw Ben Stein in Palm Springs as I was running across the street to a gas station. He almost hit us with his car and he yelled out ‘Hola Caballeros!’ with a huge smile on his face.”

Cayla: “I ran into Mischa Barton in LA when I was 11 during her prime The OC days.”

Alexe got laid off from a past job and was driving home when she saw Matthew McConaughey “just walking in the middle of the street by himself.”

Becca (third from the right in the picture above) asked us to fill in the blank space and name the celeb in the photo (answer below). Becca met her the week before her first album dropped.

Scott: Scene: A Mexican restaurant, Newport Film Festival week. “Spotted Fabio at the table next to us, munching on a taco. Hair flowing in the wind.”

Kolby, super casually: “Had a drink with Hannibal Buress at SXSW last year. He said he had heard of The Hustle and was a subscriber.”

Hannibal, if you’re out there — hit reply and tell us a joke. As for the rest of you — if you wanna play along, tweet your boring encounters of the Hollywood kind to @TheHustle. Don’t be dissuaded by Becca’s brush with T-Swift.

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Shower Thoughts

The hard part about Shower Thoughts? Trying to write them down without getting shampoo in your eye. 

1. Getting a hair stuck in your mouth has to be a million times more gross when you’re bald

2. Alarm clocks are maybe the only device that make you mad in both scenarios, whether they work or not

3. Bee hives, ant hills, termite mounds, etc are all considered nature, yet we don’t consider cities and houses part of nature. It’s animals building houses out of obtained resources, just like us

4. The world’s smallest sandwich would just be a protein between two carbohydrate molecules

5. For something that is 70 percent water, humans have very poor fire resistance

via Reddit
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