Dogercise: the Millennial parent workout solution

As a new millennial parent, also known as a “pawent”, I have had to make some lifestyle adjustments. As gym sessions got swapped for dog walks, I realized I didn’t want to gain a friend and also a couch bod. I recognized the need to raise the fitness bar with my furry friend. So to complement my airport yoga routine, which helps me stretch my way through JFK on work trips, I’ve developed a plan for me and my dog to both keep up with the squirrels: dogercise. With this new approach to workouts, you’ll see you lose none of your fitness and gain all the time you need with your fuzzy companion.

Bench press → Puppy press

Use a 10-15 lb dog for toning. To build muscle mass, choose a 20-50 lb dog. On a flat back with bent knees, position one hand on the ribs and one hand mid-belly. Repeat 3 sets of 15 reps. Stretch in between by fully extending arms while scratching your dog’s back in reward for being a good boy.

Running → Chasing

In a place where your dog can be off leash, either in a dog park or a living room, chase dog in circles until he or she has been panting for at least 5 minutes. To get your dog highly motivated to maintain the pursuit, bait him or her with a favorite “keep away” object not intended for chewing, such as a shoe or sock. Ensure that the baiting shoe is not one you will miss.

Mason twists → Mason tugs

Sit on the ground with your back angled at 45 degrees. Get your dog engaged with a tug toy by squeaking or shaking in front of his or her nose. Once dog grips the tug toy, raise legs parallel to the ground, with toes pointed, and pull the tug toy under your legs. Pass the tug toy from one hand to the other, until dog has walked a 180 degree arc under your legs. Repeat the passing for 20 reps. Rest in between sets by snuggling your dog.

Yes, you truly can have it all. And as they grow from puppy to adult, yoga may be the next frontier, with tandem downward dog. Namastay. Good boy.


From academia to social media, institutional social responsibility is trending

This year YouTube announced that it is changing its algorithm to stop recommending conspiracy videos. This is a big deal both socially and financially. YouTube has essentially acknowledged that its practices have created a social problem, which they are willing to fix at their own expense.

YouTube’s revenue model benefits from those most easily addicted or drawn in – every minute watched is another opportunity for an ad to be inserted. Developer Guillaume Chaslot shared that conspiracy theorists are particularly susceptible to addiction and, consequently, train the YouTube algorithm to promote their favorite content more broadly, as if the video is seeking out other addicts.

YouTube’s corrective actions are emblematic of a paradigm shift underway. Institutions are not simply trying to maximize their own revenue and societal dominance anymore. Increasingly business leadership sees themselves as accountable for their influence on the world. Most large American businesses have focused on not being complicit with negative social actions. For example, Visa and Discover stopped processing payments to hate groups in 2017. YouTube’s actions move from non-participation to active moves against pernicious societal influence.

Even academia has re-considered its responsibilities to society. Academics are incentivized to maximize the number of papers published; it is the currency of professional success. Yet over the last decade a crisis of confidence has unfolded, where fields from cancer science to psychology have failed to reproduce the majority of their findings from published studies. Consequently, some journals have decided to stand for quality over novelty. For example, the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) requires submissions to integrate reproducibility into their submissions.

From academia to corporate America, leaders are beginning to lead towards a better society rather than follow raw fame and fortune. Let’s hope that the trend continues to catch on.

Fortnight vs. Netflix: the battle of the attention economy

The CEO of Netflix issued a letter to shareholders in January warning that the greatest threat to its growth is not from traditional media companies, but from video game Fortnight. In short, CEO Reed Hastings is signalling that the boundaries of the Netflix competitive set are not limited to direct competitors, but are inclusive of anyone competing in the attention economy.

In our technology-infused day and age, the attention economy has become a fierce battleground. Initially, most addictive, arms-reach entertainment could fill the cracks, folding around one another. People have typically browsed Facebook on commercial breaks or tweeted while watching a live event. However, two trends are forcing stiffer competition for attention. First, consciousness about screen time. Screen time has gone from a neutral to a threatening and uncertain term. Its perceived deleterious effects on our brains and social skills has led to a wave of pushback, from studies professing its harms, to new built-in features in phones for self-regulation. At the same time, video games like Fortnight have taken a page from traditional consumer marketing playbooks, engineering their games to be more “snackable”; each Fortnight round lasts only 15 minutes, easily nudging players into a “just one more” mentality. This segment of time is just tantalizing enough yet substantial enough to lead players and observers to look up and realize hours have passed, hours that are no longer available for other TV and streaming options.

The finite resource of our time is forcing choices as the number of options only increases. And the Fortnight vs. Netflix battle is yet another example of the brave new economy we are operating in, where capabilities are what scale rather than discrete consumer offerings. Fortnight and Netflix are highly skilled at capturing attention. Other companies, like Amazon and Uber, are breaking into new markets by leveraging their logistics capabilities and distribution, with Prime Video and Uber Eats. Unfortunately for Netflix, their capabilities only scale to compete in the most finite market of all: the market for time.