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As an entrepreneur, youare constantly pulled in multiple directions. It can be hard enoughto keep up with theday-to-day business, much less come up with new ideas or new perspectives. However, when the bottom line depends on a new productor a new way of doing business, oftentimes youmay notknow where to begin.

Here is a collection ofoffbeat TED Talks that can help you get those creative juices flowingand get you back to workand better than ever.

1. “My Obsession with Objects and the Stories They Tell”

Any serial entrepreneur can tell you that inspiration will strike at the oddest times–and in the most unexpected places. In this talk, Adam Savageexplains how his fascination for going down the rabbit hole can lead to greater overall productivity.

2. “The Paradox of Choice”

We’ve all heard the phrase “more is better,” but is it really? When presented with too many options, we may behave as if we have no option at all. In this TED Talk, psychologist Barry Schwartz explains exactly how much is too much, and when enough is enough.

3. “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work”

Have you ever felt that you get more done when you’re not sitting at your desk? Perhaps you believe that you are interrupted more in the office, or that you don’t have the proper work setup. In this talk by Jason Fried, you’ll find out why we have this perception, if it is actually true, and what we can do about it.

4. “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”

If you’ve ever spent hours scanning Twitter, reading Facebook, playing video games, or doing anything but what you’re supposed to be doing–this talk is for you. Tim Urban explains what is making you unable to concentrate on the task at hand, and how to get back to work.

5. “Seeing Past the Unknown”

Are you worried about things that are out of your control? Maybe you have found you act irrationally at times and you can’t explain why. In my own TED Talk, I explain how to cope with situations that you haven’t encountered before, or even fully understand, so that you can take that power back.

6. “The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Anything Online”

Have you noticedthere are a lot of online courses popping up everywhere nowadays? With Udemy, Pluralsight, and Datacamp–not to mention traditional universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins that have all moved online–there’s a plethora of learning to be had. John Green explains how we can learn most effectively in this new age of online learning.

7. “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness”

Understandably, entrepreneurs and small-business owners tend to focus almost entirely on the present. Youhave to continually bring in repeat business in order to keep the doors open. However, in Robert Waldinger’s talk, you’ll see what we really should be focused on to ensurewe have a life filled with happiness.

Mar 30, 2020
Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra of JCRT

Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra of JCRT

When New York State went into quarantine in mid-March, Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra had just moved JCRT, their direct-to-consumer shirt company, to a new office on Pier 59 in New York City. Founded in 2016, JCRT celebrates all things plaid and camouflage, with colorful patterns named after David Bowie and Kate Bush albums and movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Stuck in a rentalhome in rural New Jersey,the married Costello andTagliapietragot to work. Heartsick that the city that had been their base and home for years was the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, they wanted to do something to help friends on the frontlines.Costello began sewing masks from whatever sample fabrics he had on hand.Tagliapietra boxed them “by the hundreds” and the couplesentthem to wherever they heard PPE was needed.

“Everything was sort of unknown at that point,” Tagliapietra says. “We were very happy to be able to even do that.”

After sewing about 600 masks (“My hands were tired!” Costello jokes), they were able to reopentheir factory in the Dominican Republic, which been closed due to government quarantine and curfew rules, and began producing masks for sale and donation, giving more than 12,000 to first responders. They’re donating a portion of their retail sales to the New York City Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, benefiting health care workers, supporting small businesses, and vulnerable workers and families. Without any marketing other than their social feeds, Tagliapietra and Costello estimate they’ve sold 45,000 masks through JCRT and raised more than $65,000.

Now they’re selling masks and collared shirts made from a black, red, and green plaid, with proceeds going to Movement for Black Lives. Over the Father’s Day weekend, which also included the commemoration of Juneteenth, they donated 100 percentof the sales of those goods to the organization.

“The JCRT community is pretty responsive,” Tagliapietra says. “It’s pretty beautiful.”

JCRT is a second act for Costello and Tagliapietra, who previously founded a women’s wear business called Costello Tagliapietra in 2005. Their runway shows were written up in glossy fashion magazines and the founders got a lot of press for their shared plaid-on-plaid aesthetic and impressive beards, which led to theirbeing dubbed “the lumberjacks of fashion.”

The women’s wear brand struckpartnershipswith Uniqloand Kiehl’s and was twicenamed a finalist to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a covetedaward for emerging designers.Despite these laurels,it wasn’t a smooth ride. “We launched right before the big recession and it was just a hard thing,” Tagliapietra says. “We were never a huge company. It was always a struggle of running a business and doing every single aspect of it.”

After dismantlingtheir first company, Costello and Tagliapietra saw JCRT as a refresh that would be digital, DTC, andgreener. “Essentially, at the core of it, we make to order,” Tagliapietra explains. “It allows us to be a tremendously sustainable brand. We’re probably as close to zero waste as anybody could possibly be. We don’t have bolts of fabric to be thrown away or burned or sold for nothing. We don’t have unsold styles.”

Keeping their operation small also allows the foundersto decide where and how to focus their energies, including supporting the causes they careabout. They’re nowat work on another fundraiser, this one for Pride month,with proceeds going to the Ali Forney Center, a New York City-based program for LGBTQ homeless youth.With their factory up and running, JCRT also continues to release new designs, sellingdressshirts, pants, jackets, bags, and accessoriesthrough their website.

“This brand is just Jeffrey and I,” Tagliapietra says. “If we have the opportunity to do good, why aren’t we using that?”

Or, as Costello puts it: “We want to be able to sleep at night.”

Jun 23, 2020

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