Hustle readers’ takes on the jobs of the moment


July 15, 2020

Tech skills are important in an increasingly remote world. But they won’t always supplant old-fashioned know-how.
July 15, 2020
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Life really is an adventure. I just got back from a short vacation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. How’d it go, you ask?

  • Our car broke down while driving to a farm brewery, and we had to get it towed back to DC.
  • Buuut… Corona rules mean you can’t ride with the tow-truck driver. Uber and Lyft are rare sights in rural Virginia. We tracked down a taxi, which picked us up from a cabin on a dirt road.
  • On the plus side, the empty Charlottesville airport meant we had plenty of rental rides to choose from.

My story ends well: We made it home safely, the repairs didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and I’m back in the saddle. Caroline and Michael’s mutiny is over — for now.

–Nick DeSantis, editor

The Big Idea

Hot industries and essential skills: Hustle readers’ takes on the jobs of the moment

Yesterday we reported that workers in many industries are upleveling their skills to stay relevant and highlighted a few hot job categories. 

We also asked readers: What skills are becoming more important in your industry — and where do you see the most hiring happening? 

Here’s what you told us.

Tech skills are good, but don’t forget the basics

Hugh W. said computer proficiency is the No. 1 skill in the aviation industry, but “plain old-fashioned reading is really important as there’s receiving, issuing, and transfers to accomplish.”

Amber C. pointed out that certain skills — like what it takes to be a plumber or an electrician — can’t be automated. “Regardless of who you are or where you work, you are going to need a plumber.”

And not everyone needs to code

Julie R. told us advancement professionals are in demand at nonprofits — and well-paid. “The average salary of a fundraising professional in the US was $83k in 2018…These jobs are very attractive for people with liberal arts degrees who are good with people and not uncomfortable asking for money.”

Honey W. predicts that the legalization of medical marijuana will open up jobs in a variety of spheres. “Please let everyone know that the states who already opened cannabis [shops] will have tons of jobs ranging from agriculture to CEO of labs and all the support in between.”

Niches make riches

Mike A. said sales of big-ticket items like boats and RVs are hot right now. Someone needs to be around to fix them. “Our service department is backed up. Jobs that service RVs, boats, ATVs, and the like are in high demand as people seek ways to have fun while distancing from others.”

Forrest K. told us his family’s meat market sees great need for workers who know their asses from their elbows. “We simply can’t get anyone in the door to cut meat! Before COVID, we always wondered what the future would hold for butchers. In this post-COVID world, it seems that we’ll survive just fine.”

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Snippets

🤦‍♂️  Oh boy. Airbnb is getting ripped to shreds on Twitter for asking customers to donate money to their former hosts — and to send them “kindness cards.”

🥪  Big day for robot chefs: White Castle has agreed to test the Flippy bot in its kitchens. Flippy is going to be heading up the fry station, so if your fries, onion rings, or mozz sticks taste a little… metallic, you know who to blame. 

👑  Even queens gotta chase that paper. After tourism revenues took a hit, Queen Elizabeth started selling gin made from leaves found near Buckingham Palace. Talk about a clever pivot. 

🎨  The Metropolitan Opera is diving into the pay-per-view market. Desperate for your opera fix? You can stream their performances to your heart’s content — it’s just going to cost you $20 per view.  

🍰  Behold, the world’s most terrifying-looking cake. It’s disguised as a pickle. And it’s part of a much larger universe of cake-slicing videos.

🌍  This is just plain cool. A new site called WindowSwap lets you see what it’s like from someone else’s point of view — by gazing at the world from their window rather than your own.

Your Stories

Tell us: Do you think you’ll miss a mortgage or rent payment because of COVID?

Hey folks,

So last week I asked how many of you are moving cities within 6 months. Thirty-three percent said they are. 

Now I want to ask something more pressing: Do you think you’ll miss your rent or mortgage payment in the next 3 months due to COVID? 

As of June, the IRS had sent Americans ~159m direct stimulus payments. There’s talk of a 2nd round of stimulus checks, but nothing’s certain yet. And the government’s $600-a-week expansion of unemployment benefits expires soon.

The Hustle’s audience is more affluent than the average American. And some experts are saying the people who’ve been hurt most likely earn under $40k/year. So this survey won’t be representative.

But I’m curious how you, our dear readers, will be impacted. I’ll share the results tomorrow.

So… do you think you’ll miss rent or mortgage payments soon? Answer yes or no below.

Sam, Founder & CEO of The Hustle

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Crunch, Crunch

RIP, reduced-fat peanut butter: The snack aisle is downsizing

Minimalism has come for our snack foods. 

These last few months, major manufacturers have struggled to churn out enough flour or frozen pizza to stock grocery store shelves. 

Now they’re trying to get their supply chains under control. That means cutting down on midlist products so they can focus on producing their top sellers. 

All of your unpopular faves — lightly salted Lay’s barbecue chips or reduced-fat Jif peanut butter? — are about to be swept into the trash bin of munchie history.

Please, at least spare our pancakes  

The devastation is hitting all industries: 

  • IHOP is cutting its menu down from 12 pages to 2. 
  • In some cases, the number of toilet paper options at IGA groceries has tumbled from ~40 to just 4. 
  • Even Harley-Davidson is paring down its number of bike brands to focus only on the moneymakers.

And cost-cutting isn’t the only driver 

Some foods are disappearing for completely separate reasons. 

You’re not going to be able to buy a half-sheet cake from Costco anytime soon — a decision the company made not to fix the supply chain, but to “create more space for social distancing” in the store.

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Odd Jobs

The poet who doubles as a professional brand namer

To provide a little inspiration, we’re profiling people with cool jobs. Got a great — and unusual — gig? Holler at us.

The way Stevie Belchak sees it, naming a new company is a lot like writing a poem.

Belchak is a senior naming manager at Catchword, and she’s branded major products for clients like Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, and Intel. 

She’s also a poet. And she points out that poets are trained in the art of capturing an image with unique wordplay — exactly what you want in a good brand name. 

Plus: Poetic devices like alliteration are what make names like Sweetgreen and Fitbit pop.

What does a pro namer actually do?

When a new client walks in the door, Belchak asks a few questions: 

  • What message will the right name convey? 
  • Do you want a regular English word, like Apple? Or a mashup, like Netflix?

From there, she looks through lists of synonyms and reads magazines in that company’s industry. She glances at a database of idioms and Wordnik

Once in a while, she says, the job requires “taking a step back and finding unlikely sources of creativity.” A popular ski trail might inspire the name of a beer.

When it’s all said and done, Belchak hands over anywhere from 100 to 2k possible names to her client.

What’s trending in the names biz? 

Belchak says startups are loving straightforward English words — think Nest, Kayak, or Wallet.

But we also might be on the cusp of a new, COVID-fueled naming trend. Belchak pointed to the video-conference app Mmhmm as being ahead of the curve. 

“We’re looking for things that bring us joy,” Belchak says, “and I think names can offer consumers the surprise and delight they are missing.” 

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Conversation Starters

White space for plant-based milk, and Peacock charges into the streaming market

A few other storylines that caught our eye yesterday:

Holy cow, look at the market for plant-based milk

This tweet shows that there’s plenty of opportunities for plant-based milk, as demand for good ol’ cow juice goes down the drain. 

Some of the world’s highest-profile investors agree: Blackstone Growth, joined by celebs like Oprah Winfrey, just led a $200m investment into Oatly, a Swedish “oat drink” company (mmmm… oat drink). 

The announcement follows $160m in new investments for Perfect Day, another maker of animal-free dairy.

Nobody wants to pay $9 for a freakin’ latte, but don’t scoff: Nielsen says oat-milk sales in US stores recently grew 300% compared to last year.

Can Peacock find a feather for its cap? 

NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock, debuts today.

We wouldn’t blame you if you can’t keep all the streaming choices straight, so here’s what Peacock has going for it:

  • One of its distinguishing features — a “not-so-secret weapon,” as CNET put it — is a free tier
  • Another not-secret weapon: A new, around-the-clock version of the “Today” show, NBC’s morning mainstay (which brought in $482m+ in advertising last year).

Then again… 

  • Peacock was planning to strut its stuff by broadcasting the Tokyo Olympics. Welp.
  • Much of its original content isn’t ready for prime time — blame the pandemic yet again.

One more story to watch

Amazon is debuting a smart grocery cart. Here’s hoping it hastens the demise of one of the world’s most frustrating sounds — the disembodied “please wait for assistance” voice in the self-checkout lane.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Nick “Needed That Tesla” DeSantis, Manny Miles (Odometer Reader), Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, Belle Long, and Bobby Durben.

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