Op-ed: Investors should watch how companies are retooling their sales efforts to meet coronavirus challenges

  • Many companies need to reimagine their sales efforts amid the pandemic.
  • Face-to-face interactions are a mainstay of many industries in which there is often a costly and lengthy selling process.
  • So far, the market has not punished stocks with high sales and marketing expenses.

What seemed like a few decades ago, I mean in February, people used to occasionally ask "How's business?" Despite usually responding, "Fine, thanks," I would often think of the inquiry as two-part. One, and probably most important, was about our investment performance, but the other concerned our operations, particularly new business.  

One of my Covid-induced fears is that we don't know how to attract new business in the remote age. We have never landed a good-sized account without one in-person encounter, but that needs to change. I crave a different "demand pull" model where potential shoppers need to come to us and realize I wouldn't like the one stuck in my mind – a grocery store.  Once we have accommodated the prospects whom we met with pre-Covid, what is our strategy? At least, we operate under an ongoing fee model, thanks to clever investment industry pioneers centuries ago. 

Face-to-face interactions are a mainstay of many industries in which there is often a costly and lengthy selling process for each order. Would those firms with the highest selling burden, whether pharmaceuticals, computer hardware, medical equipment, or automobiles, be penalized by the stock market, which recognizes the intense difficulty social distancing and travel restrictions places on their businesses? Have some been successful in depersonalizing their marketing efforts through new online and social media practices? 

Historically, buying a new model of any expensive type of industrial or transportation vehicle (Tesla being the exception with only online sales), as well as, real estate, would also require at least one face-to-face encounter. If current constrained selling is depressing some stocks, that pain should persist until we either have better control over the virus or have adopted new tools that replace the in-person experience. Investors might, therefore, be smart to avoid such exposed companies.  

Can we tell which corporate sales department rely most on face-to-face meetings? The most obvious proxy would be sales, general and administrative expenses, or SG&A. The table below, which ranks industry sectors by SG&A as a percent of sales, shows little correlation between higher SG&A and price action this year. Among the worst-performing groups have been energy and utilities, which dedicate relatively little to selling expenses. Technology, which ranks second to heath care in average spend, is by far, the best-performing group of 2020, up almost 15% in the first half.  

To put it simply, we know that many tech firms can provide the service and products seamlessly as long as the wifi is working, whether in the office or at home. On the opposite end, health care has been overwhelmed by Covid-19 and all elective surgeries, procedures and doctor visits were cancelled or held virtually for many months, decimating revenues.

General and administrative expenses

Sector # of Cos SG&A > 40% of Revs Avg SG&A % of Revs LTM EBIT % of Revs Performance 12/31/19 – 6/30/20 Performance 3/23/20 – 6/30/20

 In fact, SG&A is not even a good indicator of face-to-face sales efforts, because of the broad inclusion criteria in that category. Since the overall SG&A bucket includes everything from legal, rent, advertising, and management salaries, teasing out the sales force that meets with potential customers is extremely difficult. 

Some companies break out their selling and marketing expense from SG&A, so we examined those companies with heavy S&M spending. The table below illustrates that 17 of the top 20 on the list are technology participants, such as, Autodesk, and Citrix, all software firms with enormous gross margins. That cushion allows them to spend heavily on the sales effort, whether in-person or virtual, and still maintain hefty profit margins.

Most of these stocks have been strong outperformers in 2020. In contrast, Expedia, the company that topped the list, saw its stock collapse this year, not because of its high marketing spend, but because it sits squarely at the center of the withered travel industry.


Selling and marketing

Ticker Sector LTM S&M % of LTM Rev LTM EBIT % of Revs Performance 12/31/19 – 6/30/20 Performance 3/23/20 – 6/30/20

Rather than simply consider corporate selling percentages, which offer very limited insight into how the funds are used, investors should apply common sense to the exercise. The factors that clearly have a negative effect on revenues, profits, and expected returns, in a remote world are:

  1. An intrinsic, legacy sales force, built on face to face practices.
  2. Very high-ticket prices for the company's complex products.
  3. Management resistance to shift toward online and virtual sales methods.

Drug companies have sold, for decades, by visiting doctors' offices and hosting events or speaker series about innovative, newly approved therapies. They now are aggressively promoting new therapies online, directed at specific patient populations. 

The market has not punished stocks like Booking Holdings, Coca Cola, Merck, and Caterpillar because they have high sales and marketing expenses. Companies like PayPal, Microsoft, Akamai and Activision are also huge spenders in that category, and their stocks also have soared this year. Investors have sold and bought stocks based on perceptions of how the pandemic will impact their business. 

However, all of us who have relied on in-person selling need to creatively devise outreach programs that supplement or replace our traditional methods in order to thrive. Investors should listen carefully to how managements describe their efforts to reimagine their selling process. I'll be listening too, hopefully for some good ideas.

Karen Firestone is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Aureus Asset Management, an investment firm dedicated to providing contemporary asset management to families, individuals and institutions.

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Private-equity firms' cybersecurity defense has lagged. Here's what makes them attractive targets — and what they can do to protect themselves, according to experts.

  • Cyberattacks have been on the rise in 2020 due to the pandemic, with financial services being an industry targeted the most.
  • Private equity, in particular, has been viewed as a viable new opportunity for cybercriminals. 
  • PE shops deep pockets and willingness to wire large sums of money make them a prime target for bad actors. 
  • While bigger PE firms have the resources to dedicate to cybersecurity, the process at small to mid-size shops remains a work in progress.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Private equity has increasingly come into the public eye in recent years, thanks to big deals and the growing profiles of leading executives. 

However, increased attention isn't always a good thing. Hackers, too, have noticed the rise of private equity and begun targeting the firms — and their portfolio companies — in hopes of tapping into their deep pockets. 

"I think the reason hackers are identifying PE as a big issue is that, look they're vulnerable because they have lots of money and probably didn't invest previously. And for typical middle-market companies, that could be legacy businesses that also have older systems and insufficient staff," said Patrick Donegan, executive vice president of growth and client services at Performance Improvement Partners, which works with over 200 PE firms on IT solutions.

"They're just focused on much more important things like getting deals and delivering great returns to their LPs. The notion of being compromised from an attack to them seemed probably not like it was happening all the time," Donegan told Business Insider. "I think there was a false sense of security that they were in better shape than they are."

Cyberattacks are up everywhere, but PE is a prime target

Across all industries, cyberattacks are on the rise as corporations have been forced to adapt on the fly to work-from-home environments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, The Hill reported an assistant director of FBI's Cyber Division said on a webinar its Internet Crime Complaint Center saw a 300% to 400% uptick in daily complaints. A survey of 411 security professionals by Check Point, a provider of IT security solutions, found 71% of respondents noticed an increase in security threats or attacks since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Law firm Reed Smith, meanwhile, called coronavirus "possibly the largest-ever security threat."

Read more: 40 insiders reveal the meteoric rise of Silver Lake's Egon Durban, the tech-focused PE firm's No. 1 dealmaker who strong-armed his way to the top and is about to get $18 billion more to invest

And while nearly every company has the potential to be attacked, financial services has been a particular hot spot. According to a May report from VMware Carbon Black, financial firms saw a 238% increase in attacks from February to April 2020. 

Banks and hedge funds remain appealing targets for hackers, but private equity firms are increasingly coming into the crosshairs of bad actors, experts say. In many ways, the shift in focus is natural as banks, followed by hedge funds in recent years, have increased spending on cyber defense, making them tougher nuts to crack.

"As you move your way down the totem pole you still have large amounts of money that's being transferred. The shops aren't as big and then some of those [cyber defenses and training] break down," Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering for Eastern US for Check Point, told Business Insider.   

"The reality is that as you move your way down the totem pole you're naturally going to get less and less of that because the budgets and the time that would be associated with that are becoming less," he added.

Portfolio companies represent a big risk for PE

There are plenty of reasons why PE firms are a great opportunity for hackers, experts said.

For one, the group has plenty of money to spend, is accustomed to wiring large amounts of money, and isn't shy about discussing deals, Fred Purdue, infrastructure practice manager the cyber lead at PIP, told Business Insider.

"They are extremely attractive targets because they have a high degree of access to large amounts of capital. It's not uncommon to see a significant transaction occur. And by the way, they tend to issue press releases when they're doing large transactions or when they're doing large deals," he said. 

There's also the added complexity of portfolio companies. It's not good enough for private equity firms to make sure their own house is in order. Every company in their portfolio is essentially an extension of them, and thereby another entry point for hackers. 

That's coupled with the fact that often times companies that receive investment from PE firms need help with their tech.

As a result, PE shops need to take a holistic view of their environment. At PIP there has been a 750% increase on cyber projects related to portfolio-wide initiatives in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period last year.

"If you're a CEO, there might be a 5% chance that you're going to have a significant cybersecurity event this year. There's a 100% chance the head of sales is going to come in and complain about Salesforce tomorrow. So you might look at it and be like, 'You know what, I'm going to allocate resources based on my risk scenario,'" Purdue said. "If you're a private equity firm and you own 20 of those companies that has a 5% risk each, you have a certainty that you're going to have a significant type of attack. So the risk posture is different."

Increased attacks is drawing more attention to the issue

The response of increasing attacks against PE remains nuanced depending on the size of the firm and its portfolio companies. Most experts agree the largest shops have enough resources to dedicate towards sophisticated cyber programs that rival that of most traditional financial firms.

But for mid-size to smaller shops, no definitive playbooks exists on how best to protect against attacks.

See more: We talked to billionaires, business titans and an NBA star about the Apollo cofounder who wants to buy the New York Mets. Here's how he can apply his private equity turnaround playbook to a team that haven't won a World Series since 1986.

Liron Gitig, a partner for enterprise technology at New York-based FTV Capital, said cyber audits are one tool PE and portfolio companies are both leaning on to shore up defenses and find weaknesses. Prospective companies are also increasingly being proactive when it comes to discussing cyber at initial meetings, he added.

FTV has a specific person tasked with doing due diligence on companies technology and helping portfolio companies with their tech planning, roadmaps and initiatives. 

Insurance companies are also stepping up to the plate. In late May, Alliant Insurance Services announced a cybersecurity offering in partnership with ACA Aponix targeted to private equity managers and their portfolio companies. 

"We're seeing more and more that firms are starting to say we need to have a go-to vendor that does an assessment on every company that we've mapped out with them that meets our requirements so that we can check this box and make sure we're comfortable," Gitig said.

For companies that hold more sensitive data, Gitig said cyber is a topic raised at nearly every board meeting. Short- and long-term strategies are constantly discussed and audits are regular. 

As a result of the additional complexities that come with holding personal identifiable information (PII), Gitig said companies often go to great lengths to not handle such data, lest they make themselves more of a target.

To be sure, Gitig stopped short of saying companies that hold PII would have a tougher time obtaining an investment from a PE firm. Instead, it would need to be more of a consideration earlier in the conversation. 

"I do think that the scrutiny of: What does a company do? How does that raise the level of risk associated with their being targeted and potential breaches?" Gitig said. "When you are evaluating investments in companies that are engaged in those areas, that's something you spend time on pretty quickly with those companies."

Read more:

  • Big investors like Apollo and Carlyle are clamoring for a piece of the $30 trillion ESG space. We spoke to 15 insiders about how they're ramping up hires, raising money, and striking data-driven deals.
  • Silver Lake has been plowing money into bets like Airbnb, Twitter, and Waymo. Here's a look inside why it's being called the Warren Buffett of tech.

    Private-equity hiring is getting upended. From senior execs jumping ship to new timelines for scouting junior talent, 6 recruiters lay out what to expect.

Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: 10 Up and Coming Fintechs by Insider Intelligence

Exclusive FREE Slide Deck: 10 Up and Coming Fintechs by Insider Intelligence

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Regeneron begins COVID-19 antibody cocktail late-stage trial, shares rise

NYC’s low coronavirus rates due to masks, social distancing: Councilman

NYC councilman Stephen Levin argues slowing down the reopening process is the right decision for New York City because ‘we want to protect what we have right now,’ pointing to the city’s current low coronavirus rates.

(Reuters) – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Monday it began late-stage clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of its antibody cocktail in preventing and treating COVID-19, sending its shares up nearly 4%.

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The trial, run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), would test REGN-COV2's ability to prevent infection in those who have had close exposure to a COVID-19 patient.

REGN-COV2, an experimental therapy, has also entered into mid-to-late stage phase of two trials testing its effectiveness in hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Regeneron said.


Regeneron is among the few front-runners who have begun human trials testing their experimental therapies to fight COVID-19, including Gilead Sciences, Eli Lilly and AbbVie.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %

Regeneron in June began human trial of the antibody cocktail as a treatment for COVID-19, with an "adaptive" design to quickly move to include thousands of patients.

The late-stage trial will be conducted across 100 sites and expected to enroll 2,000 patients in the U.S. It follows a safety assessment of the cocktail in an early-stage trial by an independent committee.


Antibodies are proteins made by the body's immune system that recognize, bind and neutralize an invading virus.

Dr. Len Schleifer is CEO of Regeneron. (Credit: Regeneron)

Regeneron's cocktail – a combination of an antibody made by the company and a second antibody isolated from recovered COVID-19 patients – is designed to bind the antibodies to the
coronavirus' spike protein.

The drugmaker was also testing its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara, with Sanofi to treat COVID-19, which on Thursday failed to meet the main goal of a U.S. study testing it in the most critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Shares of the drugmaker were up 3.6% at $645 in trading before the bell.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)


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World News

Scientists Plan To Urge WHO To Take Airborne Spread Of Coronavirus More Seriously

A group of 239 scientists plans to urge the World Health Organization to more seriously consider the threat that the novel coronavirus may be spread by microscopic particles in the air.

The New York Times first reported Saturday that an international coalition of researchers will publish an open letter asking WHO to address airborne transmission of the virus. The scientists say there is growing evidence tiny aerosols can linger in the air indoors and result in new infections.

Throughout the pandemic, WHO has maintained that the virus spreads mainly through larger respiratory droplets or contact and has primarily urged people to wash their hands and socially-distance to prevent infection. These droplets, released by coughs or sneezes, are heavier than smaller aerosols and fall to the floor more quickly, thus presenting less of a threat if proper distance is maintained between a healthy and infected person.

However, if airborne transmission of the coronavirus is a significant threat, it could dramatically impact safety guidelines. According to the Times, people would need to wear masks inside places with poor ventilation even if they were socially distancing. Ventilation systems in schools and businesses would need to be updated to use powerful new filtration. Health care workers would also require high-quality N95 masks to filter out even the smallest droplets.

The scientists’ letter, titled “It Is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19,” will be published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. 

Don Milton, a co-author of the letter and a professor at the University of Maryland, said on Twitter that the group was calling on WHO to revise guidelines in light of the possible aerosol threat.

“Simple things can make a big difference,” Milton wrote. “Wear masks whenever you are not at home; even simple homemade masks can have a major impact. Open windows. Don’t gather in large groups inside with singing and loud talking. These three simple things will save lives.” 

To date, more than 11 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 around the world and more than 534,000 have died.

Even as states reel from a resurgence in cases, scientists still don’t know how many people have been infected, why some patients show symptoms for months and others none at all, and how close to a vaccine the world may be or how well it will work.

Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO’s technical lead on infection control, said she remained unconvinced that airborne transmission was a threat.

“Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” Allegranzi told The Times. “There is a strong debate on this.”


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World News

9 trailblazing women discuss the most stressful situation they've ever faced — and how they got through it

  • Dreamers & Doers is a networking community of female entrepreneurs, creatives, and change-makers.
  • Many of its members have experienced stressful, unavoidable situations in their journeys as startup creators and small business founders.
  • Still, these women say that every difficulty or setback gave them an opportunity to grow stronger, and move forward with a valuable lesson learned.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

While stress is probably not anyone's preferred emotion, the dreaded emotional strain from demanding circumstances is unavoidable throughout our lives. But though the initial causes of stress may be out of our control, we have all the power to choose the next steps to take from the situation. 

For these nine female founders and CEOs, letting stress get the best of them was not an option. They had companies to build, goals to achieve, and values to adhere to. The situations they were faced with were intensely stressful, but they didn't resign to defeat. Instead, they turned these moments of hardship into opportunities to move forward with strength and renewed intentions. 

Their accounts of the most stressful situations they've ever faced are a beautiful representation of the comeback always being stronger than the setback — and the resilience of the women behind those pivotal moments.

1. Michele Heyward

Founder and CEO of PositiveHire, which recruits and retains experienced Latina, Black, and indigenous women STEM professionals into management positions.

The most stressful situation I've faced: It was in 2013, I was working on a construction project in rural Texas when a manager told me our employer would not let him get rid of me because I was a woman and I was Black. He assigned me a rear wheel drive construction truck and would not provide a full-time team to support my part of the project. To add insult to injury, this manager refused to dedicate one of the three restrooms as a women's only restroom in the construction trailer. Yet, I was expected to deliver at the same level as my white male counterparts. 

How I overcame the situation: Every day, Black people in corporate America take on trauma and are forced to tuck it away to protect white people who are ignorant to the fact they have privilege. With fewer resources than my counterparts, I was able to deliver to our customer my portion of the project on schedule and within budget. For others in similar situations, I'd advise to document all microaggressions and inequities in their workplaces. Make requests for what you need to do your job verbally and in writing, then file complaints to your HR department.

2. Cecilia Chapiro

Founder and executive director at YUNUS&YOUTH (Y&Y) which connects social entrepreneurs with corporate professionals to build successful and financially sustainable solutions.

The most stressful situation I've faced: In January 2014, I traveled to Bangladesh amidst a state of national emergency driven by election riots, with ongoing strikes, looting, vandalism, and bombings in the streets. I knew that was the reality just before traveling, but I had a dream to pursue by way of Dhaka. I had decided to start a global organization to support the rising generation of young social entrepreneurs — and I thought it would be key to get the endorsement of the biggest advocate in the field: Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Despite the turmoil and social unrest, I went forth with my trip and pursued the endorsement.

How I overcame the situation: I got through it with my network, who also happened to be close friends. I asked friends, some of whom had experience traveling to that part of the world, for any contacts in Bangladesh and I ultimately got connected with a local and a foreigner living there. They gave me the support I needed to understand the situation, know where and how to move, and most importantly, calm the anxiety from the situation. Looking back, I'd highlight the importance of developing relationships — you never know how your mere location and experience may help someone or vice versa.

3. Nathalie Molina Niño

CEO of , which invests and advocates for women and the planet and author of Leapfrog, The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs

The most stressful situation I've faced: Early in my career in tech, a project went so badly the client was threatening to sue us. I was brought into salvage the situation and, in response, led a recovery effort that worked the team to the bone for weeks on end, until one member of my staff nearly died.

How I overcame the situation: I realized then that I'd become a true monster boss and had lost sight of my own humanity. We completed the project and the customer was happy, but that led me to embark on a lifelong journey of ensuring I never go to that dark place again. Ambition is great, but there's a way to have it and still retain a spirit of kindness and generosity.

4. Kristen Carbone

Founder of Brilliantly, which supports women who've confronted breast cancer to embrace their life through innovative products, relevant services, and thoughtful content.

The most stressful situation I've faced: In November of 2018 we had to leave the first house that felt like home in many years without any of our things because of an airborne, toxic mold. It wasn't the nicest, the cleanest, or the most well-appointed house. But it was a special place, full of love and a pit stop for wayward friends who needed respite, travelers from states and countries far away, and people who took the best care of me and my kids. One by one, I had to toss our things into a dumpster.

How I overcame the situation: What I came to realize was that our things did not have meaning. It was the people I associated with the things that gave them value. Those people live inside my heart and I get to take the memories with me everywhere I go. My home is not a house, my home is all that's alive inside me.

5. Allison Monaghan McGuire

Founder of The McGuire Method, a presentation coaching business that empowers innovators with big ideas to get their stories to the world.

The most stressful situation I've faced: I'm a serial entrepreneur but the first company I started went viral — not in a good way. People across the world knew who I was and hated me for something I'd built that the media completely misconstrued. I got death threats and rape threats, stopped eating from anxiety, and lost 10 pounds in two weeks.

How I overcame the situation: I can't describe what it's like to go viral, but I will say it feels like the thing you care most about in your life has gone completely out of your control. I would pull back and ask myself: how will this affect my life in five years? At the time, I would've said my career was over, but if I kept asking myself that, I'd see how it would build my resilience and ultimately, inspire other women to quit their jobs and pursue their big dreams.

6. Katie Webb

Founder and CEO of Aila, a fitness lifestyle brand for active women, specializing in nutrition and fitness supplements.

The most stressful situation I've faced: I decided to quit my full-time job to pursue fundraising for Aila and work on the company full time, and then COVID-19 hit, making fundraising and traction a bit more challenging.

How I overcame the situation: I decided to pivot to community building and helping to motivate women to stay moving in a sometimes not so motivating environment like your apartment, living room, backyard, etc. I've been able to take this time to really get to know our customer base, and potential customer base better, community build, and make tweaks to our brand.

7. Kate Abdelmalek

Founder of Canary + Co, the only bag company that focuses on cross-functionality and provides unique and thoughtful features that truly help women get through their day. 

The most stressful situation I've faced: We are designers turned cofounders and spent our nights and weekends over the past few years building our brand. So when our time came to finally purchase inventory, out went our bank account. After waiting through the two to three months of bag production, quality control tests, packing, shipping — the day before we shipped out all of our goods to travel to Los Angeles, the new tariffs imposed on our product came into effect. Talk about a setback! This means another $9,000 on top of what we spent to just get our bags here! Then, the bags finally arrive at the port in Long Beach, and we get a call that our bags will be taken to an off site facility to be inspected by customs. Our hearts sank — because according to the internet, this could mean weeks to months of inspections, thousands of dollars extra, and pushing our launch date back. 

How I overcame the situation: Unfortunately when the government has your product in customs inspection, there is nothing you can do, except wait it out and hope for the best! Luckily, we only pushed back our launch a week and a half, and were down another decent sum of cash, but at least our bags were released! Our advice for others would be to always buffer your timelines — you never know what roadblocks you might come across, so if you account for a few bumps in the road, you won't be so devastated when things don't go perfectly according to plan. This goes for a buffer with money too — when you are bootstrapping, every dollar counts, but make sure you have a little extra to cover unforeseen circumstances!

8. Rosario B. Casas

Cofounder and CEO of XR Americas, which uses spatial computing systems to sharpen organizations' competitive edge, performance, and long term sustainability.

The most stressful situation I've faced: I was managing a project, and we were ready to participate at a public tender as vendors. Because of conversations with our team members, I discovered that there was "somebody" trying to interfere in the tender results with bribery. That contract would make the next year for the project, but I wasn't able to wait and see the illegal management, no matter the origin of the problem.

How I overcame the situation: I decided to ask the authorities for special monitoring and auditing for the tender. It took two months to keep pushing for supervision as the process kept advancing. It was very stressful because I decided to confront the public institution and not to know who was involved, also generating a disruption for every stakeholder. In the end, the day before the award of the tender, it was proved that dark interests were playing behind, and thanks to my pushing, the public institution declared the contract postponed and ready for redefinition. The funds were not lost, nobody won the tender, there were no damages, but in the end, I felt very well because we stopped a corruption act. My advice is to always choose the general benefit, the higher good, the protection of resources, rather than the particular interest. If I had pretended not to see or had sought to influence, the consequences would have been disastrous. 

9. Kori Estrada

Cofounder of RiseWell, an oral care brand with safe-enough-to-eat products that are scientifically proven to be effective.

The most stressful situation I've faced: It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I had always wanted to have a child and hearing this news, part of me broke. The doctor told me it was very possible that I could never have kids. Those who have been through IVF understand the extreme highs and lows you can experience. Your hormones are all over the place, and it's usually not covered by insurance with no guarantee of the process working.

How I overcame the situation: I did everything I could do to make the process successful.. My husband John and I started with cleaning out all toxins in our daily routine and products because they had the possibility of disrupting my hormones. This is how my company was founded. We are a non-toxic oral care company founded on the belief that your products can be clean but also effective by using hydroxyapatite instead of fluoride. I would encourage other women going through a similar situation to educate themselves on the best tactics and lean on not only your friends and family, but the IVF community. You can learn a lot from one another's experiences. It is easy to feel discouraged but you are stronger than you think you are!

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11 companies hiring right now for remote, part-time roles

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the country, millions of Americans are fearful of returning to work outside the home. 

To cope with the pandemic's impact, several businesses that are in a position to hire have shifted operations to allow open roles to be filled remotely.   

Using data from its platform, job searching site Glassdoor created a list of these companies, as well as the part-time remote roles they are looking to fill today.

From advertising and marketing to education and healthcare, below are 11 companies offering remote opportunities for individuals looking for a new job or additional job during the pandemic. 

1. Springboard

Industry: Education Training Services

Open roles: Career Coach; Mentor–Software Engineering Course; Mentor–Data Analytics Course

Click here to view job listings 

2. RiseSmart

Industry: Enterprise Software and Network Solutions

Open roles: Job Search Consultant; Director, Product Marketing; Career Coach Specialist; Senior Product Manager; UI/UX Designer; PR and Content Manager

Click here to view job listings

3. Pathrise

Industry: Education Training Services

Open roles: Career Mentor; Career Adviser; Lead Product Design Instructor; Career Coach

Click here to view job listings

4. MoreNiche

Industry: Advertising and Marketing

Open roles: Online Marketing and Digital Marketing

Click to view job listings

 5. Spring Health

Industry: Health-Care Services

Open roles: Part-Time Tele-Physician (Behavioral Health); Part-Time Bilingual Tele-Physician (Behavioral Health); Part-Time Bilingual Tele-Psychiatrist; Part-Time Tele-Therapist; Part-Time Tele-Psychiatrist

Click to view job listings

6. Chegg

Industry: Consumer Product Rental

Open roles: Cyber Security Curriculum Writer; UX UI Design Immersion Instructor; Careers Grader; Software Engineering Curriculum Writer; Digital Marketing Course Mentor

Click to view job listings

7. Lamba

Industry: Internet

Open roles: Salesforce Administrator; FullStack Software Engineer; Student Conduct Coordinator; Student Success Coordinator; Program Manager, Enrollment; Product Manager–Learning; FullStack Software Engineer

Click to view job listings

8. Appen

Industry: Consulting

Open roles: German Transcriptionist; Language Consultant (Multiple Language available); Lao Linguist L2; Search Engine Evaluator; Social Media Evaluator 

Click to view job listings

9. Vitamin T

Industry: Advertising and Marketing

Open roles: Marketing/Event Manager; Proofreader/QA–Healthcare–Project-Based; Technical Account Manager with QA experience; Marketing Automation Technologist; UX Designer–Mobile Application 

Click to view job listings

10. American College of Education

Industry: Colleges and Universities

Open roles: Adjunct Faculty, Early Childhood Education, Curriculum & Instruction, SPED; eLearning Content Designer; Student Success Coach; Adjunct Faculty, Educational Technology/Instructional Design Technology; Product Manager; Dissertation Committee Member-Leadership; Adjunct Faculty, Doctoral Leadership & Administration 

Click to view job listings

11. Pearson

Industry: Consulting

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Pandemic etiquette guide: How to be polite while keeping your distance and socializing safely

  • Life during the coronavirus pandemic has a new set of rules, and it can be difficult to manage them socially.
  • Business Insider spoke to lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann about how to navigate all of the new social situations we're facing.
  • It's important to be direct and flexible with friends you want to see. Be careful to avoid suggesting activities that may make them uncomfortable.
  • If someone invites you to a gathering you think is unsafe, respectfully decline and don't debate them about it — assume they already have enough information that they've just ignored.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's fair to say that things have changed a little in the past few months.

Pre-pandemic, things like offering a hug or sharing a snack were little gestures of goodwill. Today, however, both of those would be seen at best as an awkward position to put the recipient in, and, at worst, as a possible accelerant for contagion.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we work, how we relax, and — as restrictions begin to ease, for better or worse — how we interact with one another. 

As people begin to emerge from their homes into a pandemic summer, the rules of conduct and etiquette have changed. Things like grabbing a drink with a friend can become a minefield. Are you comfortable with their level of distancing? Who have they been seeing? Is it safe to go to their home or to go to a patio restaurant? And how do you even begin to ask them all of these questions politely?

To get some answers, Business Insider spoke to lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann, the founder of the Swann School of Protocol, on how to respectfully navigate the new world of quarantine etiquette.

Above all, clear communication is important — and being upfront about your own circumstances.

When the severity of the pandemic first became clear, "I had said it was going to be very important for us to verbalize our desires more so than any anything," Swann said. "And I still believe the same thing."

Here's her advice for navigating different pandemic situations politely and safely.

How to gauge a friend's comfort level with an activity — and invite them to join you

If you want to see your friends at a distance, you're not alone. With some states in different stages of reopening — or closing back down — you or your friends may not feel comfortable with different activities.

For those who like to invite friends to fun activities, you'll need to be more flexible and open when it comes to making plans.

"My recommendation is to ask the other person how they feel about whatever it is," Swann said. "For example, if you do want to go out to eat for a restaurant, or you do want to hike on a trail, ask them first instead of inviting them."

Key here is not using leading language. We've all probably experienced — or been guilty of asking — a question that already has a desired answer. But that's not how you should approach pandemic social events.

"Here's an example you can say, 'You know, I was thinking about getting together this weekend. I'd like to know how you feel about going out to restaurants right now.' Period. And let them talk," Swann said.

That way you won't be steamrolling your friend into something they're uncomfortable with, and can also learn a little bit more about where they're at.

If you're invited to an event that makes you feel uncomfortable, just decline it and don't try to debate the hosts

If someone invites you to a hot tub party or a buffet, you don't have to go. Just decline the invitation, Swann says — and don't try and futilely correct them with public health facts.

"Don't correct people on doing things in their own home," Swann said. "Let crazy be crazy."

And if their gathering is flouting rules of social distancing or CDC guidelines, it's not worth your time to correct them.

"If a person is ignoring all of the information that's been shared, it's highly unlikely that there's anything you'll be able to say to convince them otherwise," Swann said. "So do not waste your time, just decline the invitation."

And what if you accept an invitation to a gathering that you think is safe, but makes you uncomfortable when you arrive?

Let's say you've made a plan with one or two friends for a distanced hangout in the park. And when you arrive one of them mentions they brought a roommate, who is bringing their two friends, and one of those friends is bringing their boyfriend, who lives with an essential worker.

Suddenly the hangout you safely planned looks a lot different — and you may not feel comfortable staying.

In that case, Swann said that you should "bow out gracefully."

"Don't make a big scene when you do it, don't make an excuse," Swann said. "Don't be evasive … if you initially were going to stay there the entire time, you can say, 'I thought that I was going to be able to stay longer, but I'm going to have to cut my time short.' And that's the very honest truth."

Swann added that you can always follow up with anyone you're particularly close with afterwards and offer a detailed explanation. But in the moment, just take your leave.

If you're planning your own socially distanced gathering, try and making distancing fun for everyone involved

For those who may be considering a socially distant gathering for the holiday, Swann recommends incentivizing everyone to follow safety precautions. She said that beyond hosts individualizing things like food portions and beverages, they should reward guests for abiding by social distancing.

"Make it fun, whether it's some sort of game or prize or gift card, or adding up points to get a gift card or prize at the end," Swann said. "Do something to that effect so that the reminder to stay socially distant has more of a prize attached to it as opposed to shaming someone into compliance."

And, if anyone isn't abiding by those rules, provide them with discreet reminders — remind them that you all trust one another and want to do the right thing. 

"You just want them to change their behavior," Swann notes. "You don't have to change their mind, change their behavior."

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you’d like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email [email protected] and tell us your story.

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England to end compulsory quarantine for travelers from France, Germany, Spain and Italy

  • Spain, Germany, France and Italy are on the list of countries that will be exempted from quarantine starting Monday.
  • The full list of countries will be released later on Friday, but media reports suggest it could include up to 75 nations.
  • The move provides some relief for airlines and airports as it will likely encourage more people to take a vacation this summer.

The U.K. government is about to lift compulsory self-isolation for travelers from low-risk destinations to England starting next week.

Most travelers arriving in the country, even national citizens, had been forced to quarantine for two weeks since early June. At the time, the government argued that this was to contain the spread of the virus. However, the compulsory quarantine sparked strong opposition from airlines, with some even taking legal steps to challenge the move.

Spain, Germany, France and Italy are on the list of countries that will be exempted from quarantine starting Monday. The full list of countries will be released later on Friday, but media reports suggest it could include up to 75 nations. The list will be reviewed regularly and is based on epidemiological numbers.

The move provides some relief for airlines and airports as it will likely encourage more people to take a vacation this summer. It is also positive for the tourism industry in places such as Spain and Italy, given how important U.K. visitors to these markets.

According to the Eurostat, the European statistics office, British tourists accounted for 11.4% of nights spent in European tourist accommodation in 2018. In the same year, Spain, Italy and France were the top three tourist destinations in Europe.

Shares of easyJet traded about 2% higher shortly after the open and the share price of International Airlines Group, owner of British Airways, was also slightly higher.

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How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and avoided lockdown

  • Hong Kong, which has a population of 7.5 million people, has recorded around 1,200 cases of Covid-19.
  • With stores and restaurants remaining open throughout, much of Hong Kong has felt relatively normal this year compared with its peers, which enacted strict lockdown measures.
  • Today, office workers are back to work and the city has reopened its gyms and even nightclubs.

When Apple closed its retail stores around the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of outlets were exempt, including its six locations in Hong Kong.

In fact, much of Hong Kong has felt relatively normal this year compared with its peers, which enacted strict lockdown measures.

Since its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on Jan. 22, Hong Kong went through phased closures of government offices, schools, gyms and bars. But other services were relatively unaffected, including dine-in service at restaurants, shops, malls, and trains.

Today, office workers are back to business and the city has reopened its gyms and even nightclubs.

By all accounts, Hong Kong's situation could have been bad. It's one of the world's densest cities. Public transit is often packed. There are even direct flights and trains from Wuhan, the Chinese city where Covid-19 first emerged late last year. In fact, more than 2.5 million people arrived from mainland China in January alone.

With a population of 7.5 million people, Hong Kong has recorded around 1,200 cases. Singapore, by comparison has had more than 43,000 cases, amid an outbreak in migrant worker housing. That caused the city-state to enact lockdown measures for more than two months.

In contrast, Hong Kong had consecutive weeks of zero new cases.

Hong Kong managed to avoid a lockdown while containing — and to a large extent — eliminating Covid-19.

Here's five reasons why Hong Kong managed to avoid lockdown while defeating Covid-19:

1. Experience

Many people in Hong Kong remember living through the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

"We had never experienced something like that at that time," Leah Choi told CNBC recalling her experience of growing up in Hong Kong. "But because of our experience during SARS, the Hong Kong people are much more alert."

Choi recalled teachers taking her temperature and having to wear face masks all the time.

"Today, the Hong Kong people are much more diligent when facing the coronavirus outbreak, where we know what to do because we already had an experience of what could happen if we don't take all these safety measures against the virus," she said.

The outbreak, first identified in 2002, eventually came to infect nearly 1,800 people in Hong Kong. Following the health crisis, Hong Kong's government created the Center for Health Protection, which specializes in disease prevention and control.

"When they first heard about cases occurring in mainland China, people took it seriously," Keiji Fukuda, professor and director at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong told CNBC.

"The public really responded and so, in most places in the city, you could really see that most people were wearing masks," he said referring to the days following the city's first confirmed case.

2. Decisive border control & strict quarantine measures

Hong Kong closed nine of its 12 border checkpoints in late January, leaving the remaining three open to facilitate the flow of goods. As the situation evolved, the city banned all non-residents from entering, starting on March 25. By early April, there were only about 100 daily visitor arrivals and those who arrived had to undergo a strict 14-day quarantine.

Marco Bellanda, a Hong Kong resident of six years, flew from his hometown in Italy back to the city on May 10, where he was immediately tested for Covid-19. Despite his test returning negative, he was still required to quarantine for 14 days. During that period, the government tracked his location through an app and an electronic wristband he was required to wear. 

"I have to sleep. I have to shower. I have to cook. I have to do everything with this," he told CNBC over video call while in quarantine in his home. When he returned to his apartment following his initial test, he was instructed to walk around his home, so the government could ensure his movement over the next two weeks would strictly be within his home's coordinates.

"I cannot go downstairs or outside, otherwise I think it will ring," he said. "Actually, I don't want to try because the fine would be HK$25,000  ($3,225) and six months jail."

Besides the wristband, Marco has also received sporadic calls from government officials on WhatsApp, ensuring he was home and asking if he had any symptoms or was feeling unwell.

As infection levels plunged, the city gradually eased some of its border controls at the end of April.

3. Contact tracing

Contact tracing is a method of locating people who may have been exposed to Covid-19. In many cases, these people are instructed to self-isolate for 14 days to monitor for any potential symptoms. The practice has been used extensively across many Asian countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Upon his return to Hong Kong, government officials asked Bellandato write down the license plate of the taxicab that brought him home. This way authorities could contact the taxi driver in case Bellanda later tested positive for Covid-19.

The Hong Kong government also updates an interactive online map depicting detailed information about all the confirmed cases around the city, including dates and times of movement.

4. Centralized government

Hong Kong's relatively small population has made it easier for the government to monitor and control the movement of its people as opposed to places with bigger populations.

For example, the U.S. has had different responses to the pandemic at the federal, state, county and city levels, making a coordinated approach much more challenging.

5. Cultural habits

Professor Fukuda, whopreviously worked at the World Health Organization, has lived in both the U.S. and Asia. He thinks cultural outlook has played a large role in the way the outbreak has been contained in the latter.

"If you can get people and the government to work together, it's an amazingly powerful combination," he said. "There's a very high consciousness about not wanting to affect other people and not wanting to put them at risk. So, when the public says, we're part of the reason why things are going well, it's absolutely true."

Fukuda highlighted politicization has hindered the U.S. and its ability to contain the outbreak. The U.S. has now reported more than 2.6 million confirmed cases.

"In Asia, there is a very significant degree of concern about other people, about taking care of each other," he said. "In the States, it has really exposed that there are big cultural differences in the country. So, whether you are in the rural areas or in the cities, whether you are in red states or blue states."

"Whereas in Hong Kong, if anything, the outbreak has brought people closer together," he said.

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World News

U.S. Public Warned Against COVID-19 Contact Tracing Fraud Schemes

The Federal Government has alerted the people of the United States about emerging efforts to steal money and sensitive information through contact tracing scams on the pretext COVID-19 data collection.

A contact tracing process was initiated in the U.S. in the wake of COVID-19 to identify people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and instruct them to quarantine and monitor their symptoms.

Contact tracers are usually hired by a state’s department of public health. They work with an infected person to get the names and phone numbers for everyone that person came in close contact with while possibly infectious.

The Justice Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Trade Commission issued a joint statement warning that fraudsters, taking advantage of the pandemic, are attempting to exploit contact tracing to steal both money and personal information.

Contact tracing scams often appear in the form of text messages or telephone calls seeking money, bank account, or credit card numbers, along with other sensitive information not required for authentic contact tracing.

The government agencies said that depending on the state, a person who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 will either get a telephone call or a text message from the health department indicating that the person will be receiving a telephone call from a specific number. They made it clear that state health departments will not text individuals asking them to call a telephone number or to click a link.

“You may receive a call, email, text or visit from a contact tracer, and you should not hesitate to talk with them,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But, if they ask you for money, bank account information, your Social Security number, or to click on a link, those are sure signs of a scam.”

Scammers may offer fake contact tracing jobs to collect both Social Security numbers and fees. They also may send text messages or emails with fake links, or call people pretending to be contact tracers.

“Clicking on a link in the text message or email will download malware onto your device, giving scammers access to your personal and financial information,” the statement said. Users have been advised to ignore and delete these scam messages.

The government noted that real contact tracers will never ask for a Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number, and will never ask for payment.

The Justice Department, HHS and FTC urged anyone who has spotted a contact tracing scam or any fraud connected to COVID-19 to report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721 or online at or

COVID-19 fraud is rapidly evolving in the country as cities and states begin to reopen for business and implement contact tracing measures in their reopening plans.

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