TED Talk Tuesday: You Will Always Have a Terrible Career and Here's Why

Most of us will go through life and never really enjoy our job. We will simply wake up, go through the motions, and dream of a better life. Our days will be filled with repetitive tasks dictated by those in authority. 

We will question why we do what we do and if it's possible to break out of the vicious cycle. Fortunately, there is a way out. 

Larry Smith provides one of the best TED Talks of all time on this topic. 

Enjoy!

One Main Reason Millennials Aren't Loyal

You will find a lot of information on this site about millennials for good reason, our whole deal is helping millennials advance their careers. 

Our entire team conducts weekly research on millennials, current work environments, management styles, and more. If you do similar studying you will see articles label young people as having no loyalty. 

The loyalty issues could be discussed at length, but there is one point which is generally looked over.

Self-education. 

Imagine yourself 50-years ago. You just graduated college or a trade school and landed an entry-level position at a medium or large company. Over the years you incrementally gain new skills and work your way toward management. Most of your training comes from on the job work. Decades pass and you might have made it to a high-level of authority before retiring.

Not a bad life. Your family was cared for, you made some cash, and helped your community by doing a solid job and maybe gave back a little. 

Loyalty was ingrained in these workers because there was not an explosion of knowledge at their fingertips. Enjoying a job really wasn't a big deal because options were limited. 

Fast forward to now. Same scenario, you graduate from school and start a position at a company. Within 6-, 12-, or 18-months you realize you don't like the job. Maybe it's the culture, the company conflicts with your morals, you decide you chose the wrong career path, or you want to move. 

In the past, your choices were sparse. Most people sucked it up and did the job which was perceived as loyalty, whereas now, individuals can go online and learn a new skill or trade. You don't have to go to school to learn coding, programming, design, videography, or thousands of other skills. 

Instead, you can do your job during the day and then teach yourself something new at night. I learned the Adobe creative suite, web development, HTML/CSS, how to blog, and SEO from the comfort of my home. Sure, it's taken me years to get to a functional skill set, but now I have two companies where I use the skills I learned on my own. 

The same is true for many people who are labeled as not being loyal. If companies wanted workers to be loyal maybe they should examine company culture and/or provide continuing education. 

Some millennials are entitled, lazy, and unloyal. They are likely not reading this since BizLatte's demo is educated, ambitious, and talented. I am not trying to flatter you, I am basing those descriptions on our analytics software we have running in the background :)

So, if you are wondering why millennials don't stay with a single company, the answer is simple. They don't have to because they can educate themselves on thousands of topics and then leave for a new job. It sounds selfish, but this is business. 

Millennials have grown up in an era where they saw:

  • Their parents tossed from companies once they hit a certain age
  • Banks completely destroy families 
  • Bailouts for companies which did the wrong thing
  • A fractured government 
  • Executive pay increase exponentially even when they did not grow their company 
  • Colleges continuously raise tuition without providing more return on investment

Dont' talk to us about loyalty. If we find a better opportunity we are going for it just as many businesses have no problem getting rid of their workforce if they find a cheaper solution. 

Matt Avery

Do you Hate Your Job?

I absolutely love the BizLatte team! We struggle each day, everything is difficult, and failure seems to outpace success. But you know what? I love our team dynamic and helping others. 

Our job is to help others plain and simple. What's not to like?

How about you? Do you enjoy or hate your job? If you answered in the negative, we have a problem. The BizLatte team can verify that I nerd out all the time. For half a decade I was an anthropology instructor at the University of Houston and see things slightly different than others. 

In the grand scheme of the universe, how much time do you have to enjoy your life?

Just a blink of an eye.

Humans are new to the universe, if the entire history of space and time were condensed to a 24-hour clock, humans arrived at 11:59 and 59 seconds PM. That's both incredible and frightening because it means you don't have much time when you look at things in perspective. 

Your time quickly evaporates. Why would you spend time at a job you hate? Do something you love. Of course, there will be tough times and parts of your job will never be fun, but overall you should be excited to do your job. 

Maybe you think it's impossible to get a great job. Don't worry, BizLatte was created exactly for you! We want to help you attain your dream job. Your first step is just clicking HERE to see our free and paid services for you to reach your professional goals. 

Don't wait another day, time is slipping. 

Matt Avery

Use Technology to be More Efficient

We could all be more efficient with our time. There are always messages to answer, projects due, and an increasing set of demands on our day. One of the best ways to overcome these demands is to use technology to your advantage. 

The beauty of technology is that it helps us in our personal and professional life. We can be more efficient, use our time wiser, collaborate with others, and simply look cool as the "tech" person. Below are some of the technologies the BizLatte team uses on a daily basis. 

Slack for Team Communication

Slack is an amazing communication and collaboration platform that allows you to be productive and efficient with team communication. Whether you are a student or professional, get used to team-based projects. Your colleagues or classmates have families, commitments, long commutes, and more which can make communication difficult.

Slack allows you to chat with your teammates, create dedicated channels to specific projects, and send files, all on an easy to use platform that is free! The BizLatte team uses Slack daily to keep in touch, work through problems, and quickly share links/files. 

All things Google for Productivity

I am completely committed to Google’s productivity tools. I use Google daily: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, Google Hangouts, Google Drive, etc. They are not paying us to promote their products; we just find their platforms to be easy to use and accessible.

Other platforms productivity platforms include AsanaBasecampNozbeTrelloZOHODropbox, and Evernote. The aforementioned are excellent platforms with many functions, yet we have become accustomed to Google.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is where I keep daily tasks and recurring meetings, assignment deadlines, etc. The calendar is my personal guide for the week, and I update it daily along with dedicating time each Sunday to go over what needs to be done during the upcoming week. A key tip I received from a high-level consultant is to always send meeting invites. When setting up an informational interview, Google Calendar makes those meetings invites easy which is among the many reasons why it is my preferred platform. 

Google Keep

Google Keep is a platform for to-do lists, notes, and other items that you want to be able to easily access. I place my larger tasks in Google Keep and separate items between work and personal to-dos. Surprisingly, this is not a well-known resource for most. However, it is a fantastic tool for staying organized. 

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is similar to Skype, it can be used for video calls and screen sharing. It is a great tool for team projects, leadership meetings, and anything else where a video call is needed.

Google Apps

Google Apps is another huge time-saver, as you can use the overall application system for collaboration. Google DriveGoogle Docs, and Google Slides allow you to easily collaborate with your teams and share files. If you are unfamiliar with Google Drive, think of it as a form of cloud storage, where you can keep personal files and share files to be viewed or edited by those who share access.

Google Docs is similar to Microsoft Word with the benefit of being cloud based, which also allows multiple individuals to work on a single document at the same time. The BizLatte team edits our blogs on Google Docs and simultaneously works on documents. 

Google Slides is the equivalent to Microsoft PowerPoint, and it is a fantastic tool for collaboration. In your professional career, you will be responsible for numerous presentations, and Google Slides becomes a solid platform for your team to add their content collaboratively instead of saving and emailing multiple revised versions of a presentation. These applications will not replace Microsoft applications, however, they are ideal for team-based work and assignments. 

Another benefit is that your Google Doc and Google Slide can be exported as a Word Document, PDF, and PowerPoint, which helps for those presentations you will be doing in meetings.

NoteGoogle Sheets is similar to Microsoft Excel, yet for many advanced functions and features you will want to stick with Excel.

Online/Phone Applications

Grammarly has become our go-to resource for editing articles and content. The online application works seamlessly with digital platforms! Essentially, it is a plugin which edits your online documents, emails, blogs, and other items in real-time. Just go get it now and thank us later. We are still on the free version and will upgrade soon. Don't just think of this as something for writers, it is a platform for everyone as it will correct those small mistakes in your email.

TapeACall is an app we use for interviewing experts. This is the app for you if you interview others or simply need a recording of a phone meeting to go back to for reference. Installing and learning to use takes a couple of minutes and will save you hours of taking notes. Please keep in mind you must let people know you are recording them. 

Matt Avery

TED Talk Tuesday: Habits of Innovators

How do you think innovators act? What actions do they take? 

Are they super motivated? Do they get their work done quickly? How often do they fail?

The answers might surprise you. In this TED Talk Tuesday, Adam Grant discusses his research on original thinkers and innovators. Our typical imagery of a thought-leader is turned upside down in this discussion. 

After watching, take some time to evaluate your habits and see if you align with innovators.

Book Recommendations if You Want to be Awesome

Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

A fascinating book full of data on how some companies have deliberately chosen to remain small and keep growth manageable. In a world which tells us we always need to be doing more, this is a refreshing look at how some founders have decided to do business their way.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is a game changer, seriously there are few books you will ever read that alter your entire perception on life. This is one of them. Carnegie masterfully explains the things to do which will help you stand out in any crowd, be liked, and be a transformational leader. The book is a classic for a reason.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

I have a background in research and thoroughly appreciate and enjoy well-researched books. Collins is one of the leading experts in writing about businesses and leadership, and this might be his best work. Good to Great completely changed my perspective on leadership, thinking about longevity, and sometimes paradoxical data on how companies actually become great. Some of the insights will be completely opposite of your ideals of cultivating excellence.

Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation by Marc P. Cosentino

This is a reference book that contains valuable insights for readers, specifically those that wish to pursue a career in consulting. While Cosentino focuses on how to properly prepare and execute a case interview, I found the book to be helpful in teaching me how to break down problems, work collaboratively, and think broadly about solutions. This includes understanding the importance of “basic” solutions. Although simple, they may be exactly what a problem requires. If you are ever in a “non-traditional” interview, then you will be pleased that you have read this book.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

A book which should be read by anyone who wants to pursue a higher level position. Drucker is one of the seminal figures in management consulting and lists the most effective traits an executive can possess. The book was based on decades of work with some of the highest-achieving professionals of the past hundred years. Read the book and learn how to take back time, manage correctly, and become the executive people look up to.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

There are many positive aspects of Seth Godin and Tribes. The book cements the idea that we are part of multiple “tribes,” and groups are successful when they have a strong tribal identity. That said, I took away something completely different from the book, and that is to be creative in writing. The book is structured unlike others that I have read with phrases, short chapters, and unapologetically staying away from grounded thought in how a book should be written. Being creative is one of the most important contributions we can give to others and organizations; be creative in your tribe.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

This book was exactly what I needed as I left business school.  The book is masterfully written and goes into detail of how to set aside one's ego for greater fulfillment in life.  The lessons are endless as each chapter will teach you how to release stress and reduce you overall ego.  It is so good that I listened to it once and immediately started it again.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Now to my favorite field: marketing and advertising! Do not be discouraged by the age of the book as it was originally published in 1923. The lessons in this short book are timeless, as the grandfather of advertising gives a clear message to have goals, measure success, and failures, and adapted as needed in marketing campaigns. Many of the thoughts in this book are the foundations of marketing. It is shocking that some companies still refuse to use insights from this book when it comes to campaign goals and a system for identifiable metrics.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

This is one of the most creative books on leadership and team dynamics. Lencioni takes a unique approach as he writes a story about a CEO taking over a company and how she overcomes challenges in bringing her new team together. This is one of the easiest books to read and might be one of the most important for teams. I consumed this book in an afternoon because I could not put it down.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

One of my great weaknesses is doing too much and saying yes too often. In Essentialism, I felt I was reading a book directly for me as the author spoke about the need to take away unnecessary projects from life that will not add value to your life. This book has helped me say “no” to meeting requests, limit my e-mail responses, and realize that there are only a few things in my life that I truly care about - and those are the aspects that I focus on improving each day.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

If Claude Hopkins is the grandfather of advertising, then David Ogilvy is father of modern advertising. This book should be mandatory for all marketing majors because the author describes what true marketing is and what it is not. Here’s a hint: true marketing is not art. True marketing is a complicated dance between qualitative and quantitative data, with a skill for listening to others in order to create proper content. Some reviewers have commented that this book is outdated as it focuses on print, television, and radio advertisements, yet the underlying principles are the true value, as they can be used for any medium of marketing.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t and Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of the main reasons I went into business. His ability to weave anthropology, business, and leadership is second to none and can be seen in both of his books. Both books are on leadership yet take different approaches. How Great Leaders Inspire is more about the core of “why we do what we do,” and once you realize that, people will be more inclined to listen to you and follow your leadership. We crave authenticity in a world full of people trying to take from us, i.e. our resources, time, money, or happiness. Leaders Eat Last builds on the idea of inspiring leaders and provide principles to what it means to be a leader, including sacrifices required to be a great leader.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Wow!  What can you say about Peter Thiel?  Genius, visionary, contrarian, all of the above?  Zero to One completely shook my views on business.  One paragraph will not do the book, let alone the introduction within the book justice. Thiel explains how capitalism and competition are opposing forces, building a monopolistic company is the key to success, our education system is failing, and to really be innovative we must provide 10x the experience as established brands.  I could discuss this book for hours, yet the overall point is: if you are an entrepreneur this should be on your "must read list."  

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your Live Depended on it by Chris Voss and Tah Raz

A little secret about an MBA is there are few, if any, courses on sales. That creates an issue for entrepreneurs and really anyone as all of us are in sales.  We sell our personal brand, our company, or perhaps more directly with an actual product or service. Never Split the Difference should be your first stop to supplement your MBA and improve your sales techniques. The book is based on Voss' decades of experiences as a FBI negotiator. He has become world-renown as one of the best, if not the best, hostage negotiator in the world. This book provides a road map of how he negotiates. There is little theory, instead, the techniques are based on what works in real life. For example, how to disarm someone's position and create an atmosphere of trust is something that is rarely taught in a classroom but will come up routinely in a boardroom.  Buy this book when it is time to elevate your negotiation tactics.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin

News alert: business school and contemporary careers are stressful! There will be times when you do not want to network, complete projects, look for an internship/job, or read another case study about some business from fifty years ago. The stress of school, work, and family can become overwhelming. When I was a teenager I was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance which sends me into days, weeks, and months of depression. It is a battle I have dealt with for most of my life and shows up in times of high stress. Waitzkin’s book was a surprising relief to help cope with depression during my final semester school. His book is half autobiography and half instructional on how to perform at a world-class level. He is the real life chess prodigy from Searching for Bobby Fischer and describes what it took to compete at the highest levels. What I took from the book was an ability to relax and release stress effectively. I highly recommend this book while you are going through stressful periods in your program.

Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling by Wayne Winston

Professor Winston is considered one of the world’s leading experts in Microsoft Excel. I was assigned this book for two courses and was privileged to take Business Modeling with the author. This book is the essential Excel reference book and will help you in school and your career. Keep in mind that this is a reference book; therefore, use it as you need it to solve difficult problems and when you want to learn how far you can take Excel.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

You might wonder why I listed this book for professionals. However, a book like this is exactly what professioanls require as the authors take the reader on a path of thinking creatively to solve problems and to not take work too seriously. It is one of the most interesting books I have ever read and difficult to describe as each chapter could be read as a standalone section with advice on how to really push your limits and the way you view the world. It is no secret that businesses demand creative thinking and people who accomplish high-levels of success do things differently. This book will give you a head start on what it truly means to be a creative thinker in any profession. 

Will You Regret What You Did in Life?

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me..png

It is a tragedy when you do not choose the life you want to live. Some people don't have a choice because of where they were born. 

You are likely not one of those people if you are reading this as you have access to the internet, are probably educated, and have more choices than you could ever imagine. 

Don't worry about failure or looking foolish doing the thing you know you were put on this earth to do. Instead, worry about regretting your choices in life and never living the way you were meant to live. 

Matt Avery

TED Talk Tuesday: The Video Which Started it All

Back again for another TED Talk Tuesday! There are a few times in life where your thoughts on the world shift. Most of these happen when we are children and learn truths about the world which we never knew. 

Once we hit adulthood, it is rare to actually have our perspective altered in a large manner. The below TED Talk by Simon Sinek was one of those moments for me. Interestingly, Sinek had given this talk for 7-years, yet he was not well known until his TED Talk video went viral. All of a sudden people knew who he was and his message, "start with why."

If you have not seen the video, you have likely heard his ideas as he is a popular speaker and author. This video was the beginning of his rise in popularity, and it centers on a simple question, "why do you do what you do?"

Enjoy.

Your Guide to a Mediocre Life

Do what everyone else does. 

There you go, the guide is over. If you want to live a mediocre life just follow the herd. 

  • Don't speak up
  • Don't question the status-quo
  • Don't try anything new
  • Don't help others
  • Don't create
  • Don't live a meaningful life

If you want to be mediocre simply look at what is expected and do the same.

Graduate from some college, it doesn't really matter which. Find a job in a field that has been around for decades, but don't get crazy with some new technology, choose something which has a history of mediocrity. Go to work, sit in meetings, stare at a screen, say yes when your boss speaks, and go to company happy hours. 

Once home, watch Netflix and look for a popular show, you don't want to be out of the loop. Watch it, even if you don't like it or it offends your ideas of morality. Eat a plain meal and get ready for a weekend of drinking and having the same conversation you had last week. 

When you do the above you will have a nice mediocre life. You should eventually work your way up to mid-management and be set for life to continually do the same thing every day. 

It's really that simple.

Matt Avery

If You're a Creative . . . Create

It sounds obvious, yet I am surprised by how many people are in a creative field who don't create on their own. They could be a marketer, programmer, writer, or another field which places a high emphasis on creating. 

These are the people who should create something new every day to master their craft. New creations don't have to be masterpieces, instead, they are steps to the eventual masterpiece. My "main" career is in marketing where I run a small consulting business. We handle websites, user-experience, print items, and more. I could simply do my job, shut down each day and be done.

Yet, how would I be breaking new ground if I only did the same things daily without trying something new? BizLatte is my oasis as it allows me to help others and create. A day rarely goes by where I don't create something for BizLatte. It could be a blog, infographic, digital guide, or quote card. Simultaneously, I am providing value (hopefully) to others, releasing creativity, learning new skills, and simply having fun. 

If you are in any creative field you must do the same. One of the reasons I love marketing is because work speaks for itself and the way to get better is to practice. Age, ethnicity, gender, and education don't matter when it comes to creativity. It's all about what you produce. 

Get out there and create something amazing and don't forget to make some mistakes along the way, those are sometimes the fondest memories when you look back on your life. 

Matt Avery

Do You Hate Your Job? Here's One Reason Why

Guess how many workers in the United States are "engaged" in their work? What do you think? 

  • 75%
  • 66%
  • 50%
  • 33%
  • 25%

If you answered 33% you are correct, it's actually only 32% (Gallup). Does that number shock you? BTW Gallup uses the phrase "engaged" as a nice way of saying "enjoy." Essentially 2/3 of American's do not like their job and 17.2% are "actively disengaged" - these are the people who purposefully mess stuff up. 

How is it that we have built a society where a majority of our life is doing things we don't like to do? Aren't we the "most enlightened" generation ever? Don't we know more about the world and universe than previous generations? Yet, most of us spend our adult lives going to jobs we don't like. 

Incredible. 

Trust me, I am not some optimist who thinks we can all have some utopian dream world where each day is filled with Hedonistic delights. No, that's definitely not me, but I do think we can all enjoy our jobs because I have met many people from low- to high-socioeconomic levels who love what they do. Sure, there are tough parts of any job, but for the most part, how would you rate your enjoyment of work?

If it's low, there are likely many reasons, but there is a cause people overlook. Your co-workers.

“Why work with a group of people who don’t even like each other?” 
― Peter Thiel

Take a moment and think. Have you ever had a job that wasn't satisfying, but you worked with people you liked? I know I have and liked the job, not because of what I did but because of who I worked with.

Many of us spend more time with our co-workers than with our partners and/or children. Your co-workers are the people you are around for days, months, and years. Shouldn't you like them?

I know, I know, you work somewhere and didn't have any say in your co-workers. WRONG. You chose to work there. You could have said no to the job and kept looking. We pick our jobs just as much as companies pick their employees. 

So when you are looking around at your job, start to take notice. Do you like your co-workers, could you be more likable, and could you improve the culture around you? Surrounding yourself with people you like automatically makes work more enjoyable. 

Matt Avery

Negotiate What You Are Worth

You must negotiate and fight for what you are worth whether you work at a corporation, small company, or are an entrepreneur.

For many people, negotiation is not enjoyable, especially if you are not accustomed to the process. Personally, I dislike the entire negotiation game. I prefer to show my past successes as proof I am worth what I ask. Yes, I might charge more for marketing services with my consulting business, Elisha Consulting, and BizLatte has relatively pricey services and products. 

However, when it comes to marketing, every campaign or event I have oversaw resulted in a positive ROI. At BizLatte, all of our coaching clients have found and been offered a better job, see some of our client stories. My point is I know my team and I produce excellent results and can back up that claim with data. 

What about you? Have you been at your job for a few years with solid results? Maybe you are a student who has always excelled academically and as a student leader. You might think all you need to do is show what you have done and a big payday awaits. 

Wrong!

You will meet many people throughout your career less skilled than you who have negotiated better compensation. The idea of negotiating might not sound appealing, yet it's a reality of life.

Here are a few tips when you are negotiating a contract, a new position, or even with family.

Remove the emotion: don't let a deal become personal. Maybe you were offered a job after being unemployed for 3-months but the salary is much less than you expected. Don't just take the first offer in a moment of emotion. Be strong. I know this is difficult. Currently, my marketing business is in a slow season and a past client requested some work. I was excited to have a project, yet the numbers did not match my requirements. It would have been easy to just let it slide and take the job, but I would have undercut my value for future projects. 

Bring data: have you done research to identify your worth? There are many sources available, including Glassdoor and others, where you can find a reasonable salary. Also, do you have a portfolio? They aren't only used by creatives. Yes, I have one for my marketing business with websites, campaigns, and other designs, yet you can do the same with any job. Document your achievements leading teams, increasing revenue, decreasing costs, implementing new procedures, or anything else which brought value to past positions. Your portfolio is an extension of your resume to prove your worth. 

Don't focus on money: one of the main issues people get stuck on is the idea of money being the central issue. It isn't, your time is more valuable. Think of it this way. What if you were offered a position which paid less than what you expected and there was no way the company would offer you more. Well, could you work from home on Fridays? Or what about a 37.5-hour work week? I know someone who received both. Her salary isn't great, yet she has free time which is valuable. As a marketing consultant, I will take 80% of my hourly rate if a client signs a guaranteed 6-month retainer. Why? Becuase they just saved me dozens of hours looking for work and provided financial certainty. The point is, don't solely focus on money, there are many perks which can cover for a lack of compensation. 

Summing up the above:

  • Don't get emotional and stay strong.
  • Prove your value with data. 
  • Money isn't everything, negotiate on your terms.

I admit I am not the greatest negotiator, far from it, the above advice is as much for me as it is for you. If you would like to learn more, I recommend Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Criss Voss. It is the best book on negotiating I have ever read. 

Until next time, go get what you're worth!

Matt Avery

TED Talk Tuesday: Don't Mess Up You Life

I stumbled upon a Mel Robbins interview and was hooked. Her style intrigued me and during the interview, the host mentioned her TED Talk. I had to find it. 

Later that evening I listened to her talk while cooking. It was just what I needed to hear as she provided actionable steps to stop messing up our life. I can not do her talk justice, check it our for yourself and wake up tomorrow with a new outlook. 

Vlog the right way with this amazing iPhone tripod stand

At BizLatte, we Vlog about our journey to help unemployeds, under-employeds and students alike. One thing to note about vlogs is that shakey hands ruin the moment! We've used this iPhone tripod (Click here) stand that works wonders to keep that steady camera feel and had helped us focus on our real goal, our content. 

Hit us up if you've found little tiny hacks that make vlogging or blogging easier! We'd love to hear! Connect with us.