It’s a cult!

And not even a documentary-worthy one

Maybe the only surprising thing anymore is finding out you’re still capable of surprise. We guess some happy little spark of American exceptionalism was still hammering away in our heart, because this feeling only comes when you expected something better and didn’t get it

The only institution too many people will fight for — the only institution cops will kill for — is white supremacy. The only value American government has to them is upholding white supremacy. Stray from that job even a little, and they’ll tear it down. 

It’s embarrassing, to be this many years old and really, finally accepting that. Yeah, we “knew” it, but we must not have believed it. Or we wouldn’t be feeling like this right now. 

There’s nothing to ask of you that you don’t know to do. Yeah, for every Stacey Abrams photo you share, make a donation to Fair Fight, cute, glib, insert GIF. But if you are a white person and find yourself sitting with some emotions you weren’t expecting today, get honest about them. We have to clean out every bit of white supremacy from our own minds first. And then we need to go after all the family, friends and colleagues who we haven’t directly challenged. Because if you think there’s no one in your life who would do this, you are wrong.  

Business is delusionally unaffected by current events, as it always seems to be these days. Project44 raised $100 million to grow it’s freight-tracking platform. Considering the number of packages outside of your door right now, it seems like a safe bet. 

Chicago companies are also doing the investing. Guaranteed Rate made itself the 10th largest mortgage lender by buying rival Stearns Holdings. It’s a move that could potentially bring unwanted oversight from minority partners — companies that might, say, question the private company’s choice to buy naming rights to a ballpark that was often half empty before the pandemic.

We pulled this GIF at random. They are … not full games.

Relativity is getting creepier with its acquisition. The legal discovery software maker is buying New Jersey-Based VerQu in an effort to make it easier to analyze chat-based conversations for tidbits worthy of the courtroom. Let this be yet another reminder: Don’t Slack it if you don’t want to hear a judge read it.

Outside of Cook County, businesses are flush with extra cash. In Normal, Rivian is working on a fundraising round that values the electric truck startup at $25 billion. And in Geneva, flavor company Fona International has just been bought by spice daddy McCormick for $710 million. We spent a lot of time thinking about what a flavor purveyor could be, but it’s never as cool as in dreams.

The Tribune is offering another round of buyouts to cut newsroom staff at the same time that Alden Capital is looking to take over completely. Given the hedge fund’s history of slashing budgets, soon there may not be enough business news left for us to mouth off at over here.

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Copy Editor
at Crain’s Chicago Business
On a less gloomy note, here's a rare copy editing job at a relatively stable place to do journalism. Crain’s just elevated the person who had the job before, so expectations will be high. 

Assistant Director of Communications and Social Media and Analytics Coordinator at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Sent in by a hustler, these two jobs are perfect for people who find themselves contemplating the apocalypse for no particular reason — the Bulletin is responsible for the nuclear Doomsday Clock in addition to its website and magazine.

Inspiration of the week

The cult of productivity is a racist, sexist, able-ist, sociopathic asshole.

We can keep optimizing ourselves to ideal robot status. Or we can reject the dead-hearted ideals at the core of capitalism. Part of the daily practice of doing that = building a permission structure — for yourself, for your colleagues, for the people you manage, for your kids and your partner and every person you encounter in your daily life — to feel some fucking feelings. You could call this a softness, or a posture of grace, but it is also a mode of resistance.

— Another thing we should know, but … from Anne Helen Peterson’s excellent Culture Study newsletter. Every productivity hack ever written is predicated on being able to isolate yourself from the world — to turn your focus away from survival for yourself and others and toward your output. You know who can do that? The people who can fearlessly loot the Capitol. 

Guilt here isn’t useful — we’re bouncing a baby with the same leg that’s balancing this laptop. And we’re not going to resolve to be better about living a lifestyle that prioritizes people over profit, because we make that resolution every year. It’s fucking hard. There are generations of conditioning and misplaced pride to work through. 

So instead of beating ourselves up for once again working through the weekend, we’ll make a promise we can keep: to celebrate any effort you make to spend your time where your values are.

A hustler’s hustle we’re promoting 
Letting friend of the newsletter Kammy Lee declutter your damn life with her business, Organized by Kammy

What Kammy says:

If you're tired of looking at your "stuff" and you're ready to transform your home into a peaceful, joyful space, a KonMari consultant can be the catalyst. Trained in Marie Kondo's revolutionary method of decluttering and organizing, Kammy believes her clients are creative, resourceful people. She's not here to "fix your problem," but to partner with you, providing guidance as you uncover answers that are already part of you. This is the meaning of "spark joy," and the reason this method truly is life-changing. 

Get 15% if you book before the end of February with code TIDYUP15.

Do you have a product or service we should promote? We won’t take your money, but we will not shut up about it if you’re doing something cool.

Forward this email to anyone who wants to be in a different kind of cult. They can sign up here and get bimonthly indoctrination emails. 

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Oh. We’re still doing this?

It's not a recession until you lose your yacht.

If you have caught yourself thinking “Hmmm, I am working just as hard or harder, and I don’t seem to be materially benefiting. In fact, I don’t even get the snacks in the breakroom anymore,” well, yeah, you’re right. The Washington Post did a little investigating, a.k.a. listening to what companies were saying and looking at what companies were doing, and wow wouldn’t you know it profits are doing just fine. In fact, “45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies turned a profit,” while “at least 27 of the 50 largest firms held layoffs.”


Be wary the cries of recession. Much like the 2008 crisis, it’s only a recession for the people out of power. At the top, things are looking rosier than ever.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and here’s a great article on why: By fighting unions and pushing down pay, Amazon is gutting a whole category of what used to be middle-class jobs. Offering more than the minimum wage today is just promising subsistence, not comfort. Something to think about as people celebrate Discover planning to open a 1,000-person call center in what used to be one of the few big-box retailers serving the south side. 

The rich though, they have money to burn. That’s why the Pritzker Foundation is planning to put $10 million behind diversifying the tech industry. As if adding a few millionaires of different colors and genders will do the trick.

Not diversifying millionaires: The weed industry. Verano is planning to go public at a valuation of $2.9 billion, via an arcane and somehow not illegal workaround onto the Canadian stock exchange. We went looking for images of their board/investors/anyone who stands to profit, but weirdly they would prefer to use stock photography of leaves on the site. Huh, wonder why?

Jobs do seem to be stabilizing: United has said it probably won’t lay off anymore people, in what’s sure to provide holiday comfort to any employees left. Meanwhile, Walgreens is gearing up to hire 25,000 people to help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to clinics all over the country. 

Which is a reminder: The vaccine, it’s coming. Some of our friends have already gotten it. There is something to look forward to. 

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Director, Corporate Social Responsibility & Diversity Marketing at Bain
There’s something deeply funny about being responsible for selling Bain as an ethical employer. One, you literally share a name with a Batman villain and two you gave us Mitt Romney. But we can’t deny that it would be a well-compensated and interesting job. Sort of like literally being a devil’s advocate, you can convince people that Bain’s money-making capability is a net good. 

Director of External Communications and CSR at CNA
See the above, helping an insurance company burnish its reputation, at a time when insurance companies are pretty universally saying “Whoop, not my bad” to COVID-19 claims. 

Managing Director of Innovation for Feeding America
If you’d rather use your skills to do a good thing, instead of reducing the harm of corporations, consider helping Feeding America find new ways to get food to people at a time when hunger is rising.

Inspiration of the week

Look there are still two weeks left of this cursed year, so we don’t want to go taking anything for granted, but we’re inspired by all of you who are still standing — literally or metaphorically, we’re not going to judge if you’re reading this from a prone position. This is a year where you count yourself lucky if the only things you’re dealing with are a global pandemic that’s killing thousands of people a day and a society that’s painted support of Black lives as a radical stance. We should take some time to recognize how fucked that actually is.

It feels self-indulgent to mourn parties, shows, holidays, travel, etc. But what we’re really mourning is the loss of pleasure, connection, release, joy. So much of what we quite literally live for is unavailable. And we’re not getting it back. The world may reopen, but there’s no making up the last nine months, or the months to come. 

If you are empathetic at all, it can be hard not to brush off your own suffering to recognize someone else who has it worse. That’s a good instinct — if there’s someone you can pull up to meet you, do it. But you can also take some time to wallow in your own shit too.

We can’t fill our cups up with champagne and sequins this year. So be gentle with yourself. We don’t know who needs to hear this (we do it’s us), but self-compassion is an action. If it makes you feel a little bit better and doesn’t actively hurt someone else, do it. These next two weeks are our last chance to get anything positive out of 2020. 

Forward this email to anyone who can see through the illusions. They can sign up here and get an email that cuts straight to the cold, hard facts. 

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Dropping the illusions 🪄

... and picking on dead economists.

Oh hey. Did we miss anything? Cool.

We’ll tell you what we didn’t miss. News that Foxconn has finally lost its tax credits, after failing to create many (any?) of the good jobs it promised Wisconsin. The state did get an entire fake factory though! 

What an ending to one of our very favorite chapters on preemptively subsidizing capitalism at the expense of workers. If only there was a moral we could learn from it, some lesson to take away …

Nope! Let’s give Amazon $741 million in subsidies, predominantly from taxpayers in Black communities. If this WBEZ investigation of Amazon’s secretive and strong-arming practices doesn’t infuriate you, remember: The company is also accused of hiring Pinkerton detectives to bust up unionizing efforts like a goddamn fin-de-siècle villain

Good thing small businesses caught a break with the Payroll Protection Program loans. What’s that? More than a third of the funds released to Illinois went to big businesses in chunks of $1 million or more?

What else what else what else … Nielsen is bringing the headquarters of its consumer tracking business to Chicago, though considering its largest office is already here, it’s only likely to bring about 50 jobs over the next two years. 

Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, a lot of the furloughs and layoffs threatened at the start of this pandemic have become permanent. Allstate is cutting 3,800 jobs and closing regional offices around the country to compete with cheaper rivals. United has no plans to backfill the 2,500 non-union jobs it terminated this year, even if demand for air travel does pick up.

Southwest is talking about nearly 7,000 furloughs, or a 10% pay cut for all of its employees. Boeing, apparently not expecting the airline industry to rebound anytime soon, is laying off another 7,000 people by the end of next year, adding up to 30,000 total jobs lost. And, as has been the case all year, service industry people are still well and truly fucked

Google may try to pick up some of the slack, committing to hiring 10,000 employees over the next five years in cities with strong Black populations, in an effort to double the number of Black Googlers. Chicago makes the list, alongside New York, D.C. and Atlanta, with 1,000 hires planned for next year. We are cautiously optimistic about this one. It’s time businesses admit that if they’re going to really diversify their populations, they need to hire on a larger scale, not just cross their fingers that they’ll try to backfill positions with “diverse” hires. 

And for a treat, we’ll finish up with some logistics news: FedEx is buying ShopRunner, an ecommerce shipping and returns business, and plans to keep it operating as a Chicago-based subsidiary. The “Nation’s Freight Handler” strikes again!

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Senior Director of Global Communications for JLL
This job is specifically for the real estate firm’s Corporate Solutions business, aka designing the world’s offices. Considering … everything … it’ll at least be interesting to try and sell folks on JLL’s vision for the future of workplaces. Plus we’ve heard some really great things about JLL as an employer. Just make sure they’re not asking you personally to go back to working in an office.

Social Media Manager at Perkins Coie
Yes, this job is listed as available all over the place, but we hear they’re hoping for someone in Chicago first and foremost. You’d have to own your own learning in this role — no one’s going to be pushing you toward the cutting edge. On the flip side, it’s real easy to blow law firms’ minds with a little social media knowledge.

Director of Development at the Chicago Humanities Festival
This was always going to be a good job — CHF has excellent programming and no small amount of influence in the city, and being in charge of its fundraising efforts is going to put you in some powerful rooms. Now that the city has sliced through all of its arts funding, however, enterprises like the Chicago Humanities Festival will be under even more pressure to give Chicago the cultural life it deserves. 

Inspiration of the week

“Without monetizing impacts, we’re left with the illusion that businesses have no impact.”

Harvard Business School professor George Serafeim, who is looking for new ways to monetize and measure all the negative side effects of a business. Worker exploitation, environmental harm, widening inequality — all of these things should count against a business’s profits, according to our new friend George. When you fail to take into account all the side effects and subsidies a business receives, you’re not looking at capitalism, but “a crony version of it.”

Plus the full article bashes Milton Friedman, and you know we won’t be missing an opportunity to beat up that dead economist.

Forward this email to anyone who can see through the illusions. They can sign up here and get an email that cuts straight to the cold, hard facts. 

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Life in plastic, it’s fantastic

A tonally appropriate song for today.

OK so look, in a pandemic and global economic collapse, there are going to be some layoffs that are understandable. The Boka restaurant group, for example, has laid off a few hundred employees and may lay off a few hundred more. Sure. We’re not getting too drunk in that great little back bar at Little Goat. It sucks, but it sucks for everyone. No one is making money here. 

Then there are understandable, if not sympathetic, layoffs. Like United Airlines, which has just collected so much GD bailout money from so many sources over so many years, yet is still furloughing almost 15,000 flight attendants, pilots and operations workers and laying off another 1,400 administrators and managers. Why couldn’t the federal government just give it mooorreeeee.

Then there are layoffs that just, wow. Cook County Health scaling back services and laying off another 100-odd people because it’s trying to care for too many uninsured patients … that seems more like a sign that things are broken. A global health crisis should be, uh, good for the medical business, no? Or at least a reason not to get rid of medical services primarily used by the essential workers and underserved communities most at risk during this pandemic lol. 

Now would be a good time to donate to the Chicago Southside Birth Center. If you’re a paying subscriber of this newsletter, you kind of already did.

Still, there’s one winner taking the cake this week. Salesforce is a piece of software other companies use to sell things. Right now, everyone is doing their selling online in some capacity. That means Salesforce is doing well. Its stock is doing record numbers. It just acquired a big ol’ analytics company with the lots of money it has. And yeah, it’s laying off 1,000 people to “position for growth.” This is, this is the growth position. You are growing. With help from local governments desperate to woo your office buildings. 

Good thing Illinois is offering up another $300 a week in unemployment benefits. Because y’all, we don’t think Mitch McConnell is that committed to helping people who are laid off.

The city is also pitching in, contributing $1.5 million in Neighborhood Opportunity Funds to Little Village orgs planning to open Xquina Cafe, an incubator, coworking space, shared kitchen, art gallery and, yes, cafe. It’s a lot of things, but in this economy? Why not go for broke?

Abbott is — it’s hiring 2,000 temporary workers to make COVID-19 test kits up in Gurnee. These are the same tests Donald Trump already plans to buy all the way up for … who knows what. We know he hates testing. Anyway, it’s a job, and probably a fairly safe one, if for no other reason than Abbott would have an incredible PR situation on its hands if someone making COVID-19 tests tested positive for COVID-19.

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Editor at NextAdvisor
The personal finance publication (launched in partnership with TIME) is looking for a top editor based in New York, Charlotte or remotely, so that sounds like a Chicago journalist to us. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll connect you. 

Employee Communications & Engagement Manager at Reverb
If internal comms is your jam, check out this role at the Etsy-owned online marketplace for musical instruments. You’d create content for the intranet and company newsletter, handle internal crisis communications, and stay on top of award submissions to make Reverb look like a cool place to work. Or you could just amplify the 100% paid health benefits — that oughta do it.

Director of Marketing Strategy at Chicago Beyond
Develop and execute a marketing plan for the impact investor focused on organizations and individuals creating opportunity and access for young people.

Inspiration of the week

“In such moments, an ossified social order suddenly turns pliable, prolonged stasis gives way to motion, and people dare to hope. Plastic hours are rare. ... Nothing happens unless you move.”

—George Packer in a long Atlantic article care of the great Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter. We wrestled with this bad boy all the way to the end. It tried to lose us, talking about “democratic faith” and Biden’s LBJ potential, but we stuck with it, and we’re glad we did. 

It does feel like a plastic moment because it feels impossible. We can’t continue. The real we this time, all of us, we’re shot. I can’t remember a conversation in the last six months that didn’t start with a sharp exhale of breath. I spent half the day adrenaline spiked and the other half in tears from the crash and that’s what passes as balance now.

In the same — again just wow so long — article, Packer tosses off that “Most younger Americans have seen no viable kind of politics other than protest.”

He didn’t say it like a positive, but it’s when we started to feel a little hope. Because for the first time in a long time we really are miserable enough that protest seems viable, even preferable, to stasis. Protest can get us some of what we need from these institutions — or it can give us a way to watch them burn. Either way, better than the alternative: that we let it get this bad only to settle for the scraps. As tired as we are, that’s too exhausting to contemplate. 

You’ll have to push it forward without us for a little bit. We’re taking some time off, because one of the Is behind this royal we is having a baby. Like I told you, I’m a goddamned optimist. 

Forward this email to anyone who needs to stay malleable. They can sign up here and get an email that keeps it moving every couple weeks, once we’re back in fighting shape. 

Something tells us it won’t take that long.

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Doing our best to get excited

Because what is the alternative, really?

This newsletter depends on the reporting of other news outlets, full-stop. And that can make it hard to criticize those outlets. They are dear to us, we want them to succeed, and we’ve worked at most of them. But these past two weeks have seen Crain’s walking through the streets tolling a bell of doom and rending its garments over looting. One of the few positive headlines this week: “Looting boosts business for board-up and glass-repair services.” Otherwise it’s looking like this, just a stream of morose asides from a bad grandfather.

We’re not surprised, just disappointed, especially when Crain’s doesn’t seem to connect the dots on the business it’s so eager to protect giving nothing back to the city. Literally, nothing, Water Tower Place and other big downtown landmarks are deferring their tax bills, yet asking for nonstop police protection. Potbelly is once again dipping into that PPP money after laying people off, presumably to pad out its profits during the pandemic. At least it can afford to pay for all those boards over the windows, right? Rightfully disgraced WeWork is breaking past lease promises, and even World Business Chicago, the organization charged with bringing new business to the city, is laying off five staffers and failing to replace four more. 

It’s the wrong looters Crain’s is looking at. And we do not have the time for that kind of racist distraction. 

Instead, we have some actual funding news to focus on! Venture capital firm S2G raised a $100 million fund to invest in startups that promote sustainable seafood and ocean health. OK! We can’t imagine too much of that money is going to stay in the landlocked Middlewest, but still, glad to see Chicago raising money and putting it toward fighting climate change. 

Homeowners’ insurance startup Kin raised an additional $35 million, and plans to use the money to start selling plans in three new states. Do we need insurance for our homes more or less now that we never leave them?  

Still with all the funding, Amazon is the company adding the most jobs to Chicagoland. Until that’s no longer the case, you won’t hear us talking about a recovery. 

Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Development Officer at Embarc
Embarc takes low-income high schoolers on cool field trips. A great way to expand your idea of possible opportunities, yes. Also, just objectively, even a terrible field trip is still going to be the best day of your year as a high schooler. The mission of this role is clear: Double Embarc’s fundraising over the next two years to double the number of students it can break out of classrooms for a day. 

Marketing Technology Coordinator at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg
Coordinate all the marketing technology platforms and analytics, manage the law firm's mailing lists, and help the marketing director run webinars and train staff. Basically wow them with your marketing and digital knowledge in what should be a fairly secure setting.

Development Manager at City Bureau
Newsrooms run by venture capitalists don’t seem to be working out. So roll up your sleeves to help this member-supported South Side nonprofit raise funds for the future of journalism. Your deadline to apply is Aug. 30.

Head of eCommerce at ConAgra Brands
This is a big-time e-commerce power job: Work with existing channels and partners and identify new ways to grow brands like Birds Eye, Gardein, Slim Jim and BoomChickaPop through digital marketing, space planning, program testing, content management, promotions and new technologies. Operate the P&L, serve as a thought leader, work with stakeholders and agencies, build a team, engage new retailers. Who’s hungry?

Inspiration of the week

“Tonight I couldn't be prouder to be a loyal union member, a passionate climate activist and a patriotic Democrat. Or as Donald Trump will call me in a tweet tomorrow, a washed-up, horse-faced, no-talent has-been with low ratings. Well, with all due respect, sir, it takes one to know one.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, during what turned out to be a powerful, intimate and hopefully effective virtual Democratic National Convention. Check out the JLD DNC supercut here.

It may not be the ticket you wanted — it isn’t the ticket we wanted. But we are going to do our best to get excited about voting regardless, because it most definitely is the better ticket. And all the while, we’ll be looking for the glimmers of hope that it’s a ticket capable of being pushed further left, and doing more for people everywhere than it’s currently promising. 

Forward this email to anyone who needs to feign enthusiasm sometimes. They can sign up here and get an email full of GIFs that will at least elicit a sad smile to keep them going every two weeks. 

Got a tip on an excellent job? Reply to this email, send us a new one at, or reach out on Twitter.

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