My mom’s coming to Pittsburgh this week. 

She’s driving from Ormond Beach, Florida – with a couple stops to see friends along the way. It’s quite an adventure for someone turning 74 next Saturday. 

She moved down there after my dad died, eight years ago next month. It’s still hard to believe. 

Nobody expected my dad to be gone so soon. We had no plan. 

A few days after the funeral, my mom and I were driving around looking at condos and talking about putting their house up for sale. She wasn’t handling it well. 

So, I suggested she fly down to Florida to stay in my mother-in-law’s carriage apartment for a few weeks to clear her head. She hasn’t been back, aside from the occasional visit, ever since.

For sure, the whole “one mother-in-law living above the garage of the other mother-in-law” went about as well as you’d expect. It would’ve made for a good sitcom, if it was even remotely funny or unpredictable. 

Within a few months, she rented her own place, right on A1A, overlooking the ocean. Before you knew it, she was volunteering at hurricane shelters, going to sunrise church services on the beach, taking painting classes (and eventually even selling her artwork), having pool parties with friends, and enjoying junkets to Florida casinos. She has a telescope to watch stars and dolphins from her balcony.  

It’s an entirely new life. And it’s awesome. 

Of course we miss her. And we (selfishly) miss the help she gave us with our kids when she was here. We wish she could have been here for more of their performances, sporting events, and birthdays. But we understand. 

I would never judge anyone for how they choose to grieve. But I’ve watched a lot of people lose a spouse, turn their homes into shrines, and live out their days with constant reminders of their old life at every turn. 

My mom went the other direction – super hard. 

It was exactly what she needed. And exactly what my dad would have wanted for her. 

Right now, she’s either cruising the highway, listening to an audiobook, or drinking coffee with her friends, reminiscing about the road trips she used to take with my dad. 

Wherever she is, I know she’s happy. And that’s all that matters. 

See you soon, mom.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

The correlation between being glued to a device and job burnout is crazy – if not unsurprising. Thirty-two percent of U.S. adults say they unplug from their electronic devices for at least two hours a day (not including sleep), while a slightly higher percentage (33%) never unplug. Younger people, men, and remote workers are more likely to stay plugged in. The big stat: people who never unplug are over three times more likely than daily unpluggers to say they’re experiencing job burnout right now. People who aren’t addicted to their digital devices are happier and less stressed across the board. If you think about it, you could make an argument for causality in both directions. 

Podcasts are adding to our digital obsession. Count me among the statistics here (The Pivot is currently my second-favorite show). Podcast listening keeps growing with 34% of Americans now among the audience (up from 32% at the end of last year) and one-in-four podcast listeners tuning in every single day. Where I’m most certainly NOT a statistic is that true crime podcasts are by far the most popular genre, particularly among young people and women. Brands, take note – 35% of listeners say they’ve purchased a product based on an ad they heard on a podcast. 

Speaking of the greatest podcasts of all-time, we broke down the state of retail and technology on The Dumbest Guy in the Room this week. My guest was Shelley Bransten, the dynamic leader of the global retail and consumer goods vertical at Microsoft. We talked about how COVID accelerated innovation in retail, why more and more technology procurement is being driven by CMOs, and why stores and restaurants should invest in tech to support their frontline workers. Oh, and we debated the age-old question of whether you need to help a party host clean up before you leave. Don’t miss it

Streaming – and COVID aftershocks – are continuing to shake up the local news. With rumors swirling that NBC could shed national programming during the 10 pm hour, local affiliates are poised to pick up an earlier news slot. This could be a big win for the regional broadcasters as local news viewers say they prefer the 10 pm hour over 11 pm by almost 2-to-1. Another trend that caught my attention in this jam-packed study of local news is how TV viewing habits are changing among remote and hybrid workers. Not shown below. 

TikTok influencers are earning the trust of Gen Z. The vast majority of Americans are cynical about social media influencers – even young people are neutral at best. Still, 30% of adults under the age of 25 say they’ve purchased one or more products because an influencer recommended it. The opportunities vary by brand – for example, IKEA fans are much more prone to influencer marketing than fans of Nike. Trust is the strongest predictor of influencer success and it’s clear that TikTok is winning that game over Instagram right now. 

Because government and the private sector don’t have the courage to do anything about it, consumers are taking data privacy and security into their own hands. I’ll spare you a 2,000-word rant about the incompetence of Washington and the cowardice (if not malicious intent) of the tech and advertising industries when it comes to protecting the personal data of Americans. Don’t get me started on third-party cookies, data clean rooms, and universal IDs. Anyway, I guess the good news is that 10% of Americans think their online info is “very safe,” up a whopping 4 points from last year. Among the reasons for the increase, people are using things like password managers at a higher rate. We should just rely on people to do surgery on themselves too.    

More studies this week:

The Most Popular Questions This Week:

Answer Key: Abnormal, if it’s a good relationship; 13; Used; Hell yeah; No – It was just the archetype of people who most frequented restaurants during peak COVID. 

Hoping you’re well.


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