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Why go to college when you could be a plumber?



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About 10 years ago, when my son was playing soccer in high school, I was chatting with the father of one of his teammates. He was a little glum about his son’s decision to attend college. Why?

“He should be a plumber like me,” the father said.

In my middle-class suburban neighborhood, a statement like that is sacrilege. A plumber? Every parent wants their child to go college, get a degree and become a highly paid executive, right? But not this parent. He’s a business owner. And he was looking at a $300,000 tuition bill that would put both him and his son in debt. And for what in return? A business management degree? An entry-level job at a large multinational? To this guy, the decision didn’t make sense.

“My kid’s good with his hands,” he said to me with regret. “And he’s worked in my business every summer since he was 12. I could take that $300K and set him up in his own business someday.”

Even then, I thought the dad was right. And it turns out that a growing number of younger people are starting to feel the same way.

According to a new study of 1,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 across the United States released by the hiring platform Thumbtack, 73% said that they “respect skilled trade as a career” putting it second only to medicine. More telling, a whopping 47% of those surveyed said that they were interested in pursuing a career in a trade – a career unlikely to be too affected by the oncoming wave of AI technologies.

Whatever you may think of our younger generations you can’t deny that they’re smarter than us. They’re already waking up to the fact that there are plenty of ways to earn a good living and live a happy life even without a college degree. I see these people frequently.

When I stop at my local convenience store for a pre-dawn coffee the place is filled with younger tradesmen – contractors, plumbers, roofers, landscapers – getting their fill before heading out to their higher-than-average-paid jobs. It’s mostly guys, something that will change. And it’s those whose high school friends are likely either spending their days smoking weed and watching TV in their college dorm room or sitting in a cubicle in a suburban office park counting the hours until they can go home and smoke weed and watch TV in their studio apartment.

Employees who work in the trades make a great living, particularly if you’re good at what you do. The top 10% of plumbers make six figures. The average electrician makes $60K a year and an average roofer can make up to $63K a year. Sure, the grass is always greener. Being a tradesman means being outside, doing physical and potentially hazardous work. But tradespeople who belong to unions get generous healthcare and retirement benefits as well as regular training. They’re able to work more than one job if they want. They have flexible hours and can move between locations and industries, depending on where the work is. They don’t have to deal with corporate bullshit. They have job security because they are truly skilled.

But most importantly choosing this route offers the opportunity of being one’s own boss. Being expert in a trade, and having that state license to prove your credibility, means you can work independently or start your own business where your chances of success are fairly high because who’s not looking for a reliable electrician or plumber?

It seems like more young people are realizing this. The smartest ones know that reaching these goals will take some time. To really succeed in the trades – like anything else – you’ve got to put in the hours, learn from others with more experience, and hone your craft.

So as much as this is an opportunity for GenZers it’s also an opportunity for the GenXers and Boomers – my clients – who are still running plumbing, electrical and construction firms. Pay attention everyone: there’s a renewed interest – and appreciation – for what you do. This is a golden recruiting opportunity.

I bumped into that father just a few weeks ago. He’s still running his plumbing firm and doing fine. And his son? Yeah, you already know what happened. Now $300k in debt with a useless business management diploma hanging on the wall he’s working in the family business.


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Adidas chief exec: Kanye West ‘didn’t mean what he said’ with antisemitic comments

Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas, has lamented the end of the company’s lucrative partnership with Kanye West, saying, “I don’t think he meant what he said,” regarding the rapper’s antisemitic comments in October 2022.

West, who has changed his name to Ye, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he was “going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE … You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda”. On Instagram, he posted a screenshot of a conversation with Diddy, where he wrote: “Ima use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me.” Ye had caused further anger earlier that month by including T-shirts with the slogan White Lives Matter in a Yeezy fashion show in Paris.

Later in October, Adidas ended a creative partnership with Ye that had begun in 2015, saying his comments were “unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness”.

In December, Ye caused further outrage after posting an image of a swastika blended with the Star of David to X and praising Adolf Hitler and Nazis in an interview with Infowars host Alex Jones. “I see good things about Hitler,” said Ye. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler … [Nazis] did good things too.” He added: “There’s a lot of things that I love about Hitler.”

Now, speaking on the Norwegian podcast In Good Company, Gulden elaborated on the rapper’s departure, prior to Gulden’s tenure which began in January after he left Puma.

“I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world,” he said. “Both in music and what I call street culture. So he’s extremely creative and has together with Adi created a Yeezy line that was very successful. And then, as creative people, he did some statements, which wasn’t that good. And that caused Adi to break the contract and withdraw the product. Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person – it just came across that way.

“That meant we lost that business. One of the most successful collabs in history – very sad. But again, when you work with third parties, that could happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. It’s part of the business.”

With its futurist silhouettes and pop-cultural heft, Yeezy became a successful brand for Adidas, generating £1.3bn in 2021, 7% of Adidas’s overall annual revenue. It was a major source of income for Ye, who took a reported 11% royalty cut.

After cutting ties with Ye, Adidas was lumbered with more than £1bn of unsold Yeezy stock. In May, Gulden announced plans for the stock, saying it would be sold but with a “significant amount” of proceeds handed to groups which combat hate speech, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change (run by the family of George Floyd) and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. At the time, Gulden said: “There is no place in sport or society for hate of any kind and we remain committed to fighting against it.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League who had condemned Ye as a “vicious antisemite” who “put Jews in danger”, welcomed the move as “a thoughtful and caring resolution”.

But the musician will still earn his share of profits, which has caused some consternation. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Adidas’s donations were “highly commendable … [but] the fact that Kanye West would profit financially from the sale is highly problematic”.

The end of the Yeezy product line contributed to a £350m drop in sales for Adidas in the first quarter of 2023, in a year-on-year comparison with 2022. Announcing those results in May, Gulden said: “2023 will be a bumpy year with disappointing numbers … the loss of Yeezy [is] of course hurting us.”

Ye, who has hinted at a 2024 presidential run to follow his 2020 campaign, has kept a relatively low profile since his antisemitic comments, though has remained a tabloid fixation for his relationship with girlfriend and co-worker Bianca Censori. The couple were pictured together at London fashion week last week.

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FTX sues Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents, claiming they received millions in gifts

FTX is suing the parents of Sam Bankman-Fried, two longtime Stanford Law School professors, alleging that the couple inappropriately used company funds to enrich themselves through gifts and donations.

The cryptocurrency company, now operating under CEO John Jay Ray III, an expert in helping companies recover after bankruptcy, claims Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried received funds from their son’s company in the form of gifts and donations to specific causes.

The lawsuit is the company’s first legal pursuit against Bankman-Fried’s parents for their role in the company.

“As Bankman-Fried’s parents, Bankman and Fried exploited their access and influence within the FTX enterprise to enrich themselves, directly and indirectly, by millions of dollars,” the lawsuit said. “Despite presenting itself to investors and the public as a sophisticated group of cryptocurrency exchanges and businesses, the FTX Group was a self-described ‘family business’.”

The lawsuit said Bankman and Fried received a $10m gift and a $16.4m luxury home in the Bahamas, where FTX was based, “despite knowing or blatantly ignoring that the FTX Group was insolvent or on the brink of insolvency”. The couple also advocated for “tens of millions of dollars” of company funds to be used for political and charitable contributions, including to Stanford and to Mind the Gap, a leftwing super political action committee (Pac) co-founded by Fried.

The couple “either knew – or ignored bright red flags revealing – that their son, Bankman-Fried, and other FTX Insiders were orchestrating a vast fraudulent scheme to profit and promote their personal and charitable agendas at [the company’s] expense”.

The company is also accusing Bankman of trying to help cover up FTX mismanagement and fraud, saying that he “portrayed himself as the proverbial adult in the room – and was uniquely positioned to fulfill that role – as he worked alongside inexperienced fellow executive officers, directors and and managers responsible for safeguarding billions of dollars.”

The couple has not publicly commented on the lawsuit, though a spokesperson last year told the New York Times that Bankman had worked for FTX for 11 months and said “most of his time was spent identifying worthy health-related charities”.

Bankman-Fried faces seven counts of federal charges, including charges of fraud and money laundering. After spending months under house arrest in his parents’ home in Palo Alto, Bankman-Fried was sent to a Brooklyn jail in August after a judge ruled he had tampered with witnesses. The former FTX CEO had leaked to the New York Times personal writings of Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried former romantic partner and former chief executive of Alameda Research, the hedge fund that was connected to FTX.

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Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have been fighting for his release from prison ahead of his 3 October trial start date.

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Instacart shares jump 43% in grocery delivery business’s Nasdaq debut



Shares in online grocery delivery business Instacart jumped 43% in its Nasdaq trading debut on Tuesday.

While shares dropped back in later trading, ending the day up just over 12%, the price pop was the second successful initial public offering (IPO) in a week following the sale of British microchip designer Arm.

Instacart’s shares started trading at $30 and closed at $34.23, valuing the company at about $11bn. That’s about half the valuation it received from investors last March.

Instacart’s core business is to send couriers to grocery stores to pick out orders and deliver them to homes, but in recent years it has expanded into advertising and technology services, including artificial intelligence operations.

Instacart executives pitched the offering as an opportunity to get in on a revolution in the grocery business that, they said, had notably lagged in developing technologies to meet shifting consumer habits.

US consumers are ordering more groceries online than they did before the pandemic, when demand for home delivery soared, but they are doing so less often. Instacart has only recently started making profits after years of losses and faces strong competition from Uber and DoorDash.

Instacart’s share offering was backed by big investors, including PepsiCo, Norway’s Norges Bank and Sequoia Capital.

Among the winners from the IPO is Apoorva Mehta, 37, who co-founded the company in 2012 and stepped down as CEO in 2021. Mehta’s 10% stake in the firm is now valued at $1.3bn.

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Instacart currently has more than 3,000 employees and about 600,000 “shoppers” – independent contractors who pick up orders. The company has said it will pay bonuses to shoppers who have delivered at least 5,000 orders and a $20,000 bonus to those who have delivered at least 15,000 orders.

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