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Putting holiday decorations up early can boost your mood if you're working from home, according to a psychotherapist

  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • The holidays are going to look different for everyone working from home this year, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on holiday cheer. 
  • Morin says doing things that stir up nostalgia, like decorating your house or looking through old family photos, can help you feel happier and more connected throughout the season.
  • There are no rules when it comes to how or when to start decorating, but these small things can hopefully offer you some peace during unprecedented times. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

If you're looking forward to 2020 being over, you're not alone. From the pandemic to election-related stress, it's been a tough year for many people.

And if you're working from home every day, you might feel a bit stuck in a rut by this point. Shorter days, cooler weather, and no end in sight to the pandemic can certainly take a toll on your psychological well-being.

You also might be feeling a bit down about the holidays. Perhaps you can't throw your annual holiday party or maybe you won't be flying home to see your family this year.

Decorating for the holidays might be the last thing you feel like doing, but putting up those decorations might be the best activity you could do for yourself. In fact, putting those decorations up extra early might do wonders for your mood — especially if you're working from home.

Read more: 7 ways entrepreneurs and business owners can better manage their mental health and wellbeing

Holiday nostalgia

The holidays stir up feelings of nostalgia unlike any other activity. Whether you remember the activities you did as a child or you recall the last holiday you spent with a loved one, there's something special about the holiday season.

And nostalgia can offer some powerful benefits that might be especially helpful this year.

Studies have found nostalgia can help you find more meaning in life, bolster your sense of social connection, and provide an antidote to collective angst. And who doesn't need those things right now?

Doing things that stir up nostalgia — whether it means eating the cookies your mom used to make during the holidays or it means looking through old family photos — might be really good for you.

And there's a good chance that decorating for the holidays is a great way to stir up those nostalgic feelings.

How and when to decorate

This year, it may make sense to start decorating now — or as soon as you want. There certainly aren't any rules this year about what's appropriate when it comes to decorating. You can certainly do some unprecedented things during unprecedented times.

Whether you're putting out ornaments or you're lighting candles, your decorations can remind of years' past. And that just might be what you need to feel socially connected during a time when your in-person contact might be quite limited.

Perhaps you feel more connected to family and friends you can see when you have your decorations up. Or maybe, decorating your lawn helps you feel more connected to the people in your neighborhood. It might help you feel like we're all in this together.

Read more: The stress of reopening: How to reduce anxiety and support your team's mental health as you return to the office

Research has even found that people view those who decorate their homes for the holidays as being more approachable and friendly. This might be more important than ever during a time when your friends might not see your smile behind your mask and your neighbors might be missing those early morning waves you used to give one another on the way to work.

And during a year when nothing feels normal, decorating for the holidays may help you gain a little peace. You might not be able to observe your traditions or celebrate in the exact same way, but decorating now can be a reminder that the holidays are still going to happen this year.

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Why it's time to eliminate daylight savings time, according to a neurologist

  • Turning the clock forward in the spring eliminates an extra hour of sleep that is critical to our overall health and wellness, says neurologist Michael S. Jaffee.
  • Sleep shortages can result in negative chronic health conditions — including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and depression — and damage a child's developing brain. 
  • Experts who advocate to end daylight savings time say it'll help us align our clocks to our natural circadian rhythms and promote better sleeping habits.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For most of the US, the clock goes back one hour on Sunday morning, November 1, the "fall back" for daylight saving time. Many of us appreciate the extra hour of sleep.

But for millions, that gain won't counter the inadequate sleep they get the rest of the year. About 40% of adults — 50 to 70 million Americans — get less than the recommended minimum seven hours per night.

Some researchers are concerned about how the twice-a-year switch impacts our body's physiology. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the largest scientific organization that studies sleep, now wants to replace daylight saving time with a move to a year-round fixed time. That way, our internal circadian clocks would not be misaligned for half the year. And it would eliminate the safety risk from sleep loss when transitioning to daylight saving time.

I am a neurologist at the University of Florida. I've studied how a lack of sleep can impair the brain. In the 1940s, most American adults averaged 7.9 hours of sleep a night. Today, it's only 6.9 hours. To put it another way: In 1942, 84% of us got the recommended seven to nine hours; in 2013, it was 59%. To break it down further, a January 2018 study from Fitbit reported that men got even less sleep per night than women, about 6.5 hours.

Read more: Inside the daily routine of BarkBox cofounder Henrik Werdelin, who starts his day with the '8 plus 1 method' and doesn't check email until lunchtime

The case for sleep

Problems from sleep shortage go beyond simply being tired. Compared to those who got enough sleep, adults who are short sleepers — those getting less than seven hours per day — were more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and depression.

Children, who need more sleep than adults, face even more challenges. To promote optimal health, six- to 12-year-olds should sleep nine to 12 hours a day; teens from 13 to 18, eight to 10 hours. But a Sleep Foundation poll of parents says children are getting at least one hour less than that. And researchers have found that sleep deprivation of even a single hour can harm a child's developing brain, affecting memory encoding and attentiveness in school.

Sleep impacts every one of our biological systems. Serious consequences can result with poor sleep quality. Here's a short list: Blood pressure may increase. Risk of coronary heart disease could go up. Our endocrine system releases more cortisol, a stress hormone. We become more aroused by "fight or flight" syndrome. There's a reduction of growth hormone and muscle maintenance. There's a higher chance of increased appetite and weight gain. The body has less glucose tolerance and greater insulin resistance; in the long term, that means an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Sleep deprivation is associated with increased inflammation and a decreased number of antibodies to fight infections. It may also cause a decrease in pain tolerance, reaction times and memory. Occupational studies show sleep loss can cause poor work performance, including more days missed and more car accidents.

Recent research suggests the body's waste removal process relies on sleep to get rid of harmful proteins from the brain, particularly abnormal variants of amyloid. These are the same proteins that are elevated in Alzheimer's patients. Studies show that older adults who sleep less have greater accumulation of these proteins in their brains.

On the other hand, getting enough sleep helps the body in many ways by protecting against some of these damaging effects and by boosting the immune system.

Read more: The president of mobile gaming giant Zynga used to travel to a different city almost every week. Here's a look at his daily routine now, which starts at around 6 a.m. and includes not eating before noon.

The problem with DST

Most of the risk associated with daylight saving time occurs in the spring, when we turn the clock forward and lose one hour of sleep. The idea of a national permanent year-round time has support, but disagreements exist on whether the fixed time should be standard time or daylight savings time.

States advocating for permanent daylight saving time are typically those that rely on tourism. Environmentalists, favoring less energy consumption from morning heating and evening air conditioning, often support permanent standard time. Religious groups, whose prayer times are linked to sundown and sunrise, also tend to prefer permanent standard time. So do many educators, opposed to transporting children to school during mornings when it's still dark.

As you ponder what system is best for a national year-round standard, consider this: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended we go with permanent standard time — a better way to align with our natural circadian clock and minimize health and safety risks.

And just think: If we change to permanent standard time, then for the first time in decades, you won't lose an hour of sleep every spring.

Michael S. Jaffee, vice chair, department of neurology, University of Florida

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Psychics, tarot cards, and crystals galore: How witchcraft became a multi-billion dollar industry

  • Witches have been flourishing businesswomen for centuries, offering witchy rituals, health treatments, potions, and poisons as early as the 1200s.
  • Modern forms of witchcraft have become commercialized as they've grown in popularity, and thanks to a thriving internet presence, have also evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.
  • Even retailers like Sephora and Urban Outfitters have cashed in on the witchcraft fervor, offering products like witch-themed makeup, smudge sticks, and tarot cards.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Yoko Ono once noted: "People respect wizards. But a witch, my god, we have to burn them."

Witches were maligned for centuries because of their perceived dark power and influence — but could this fear have stemmed from their commercial success?

Witches have been savvy businesswomen since the 13th century, when they flourished in the seaside towns of Scotland, England, and Finland.

Today, witchy toys, crystals, and potion kits are big business and the craft has even cast its spell on some global brands.

Helping sailors, healing villagers

Some 800 years ago, superstitious sailors would seek out sea witches to purchase wind knots — magical ropes bearing three knots. Untying one was believed to bring a breeze, two a stronger wind, and three to cause a gale.

When women were killed during the witch hunts of the Early Modern period around 1450 to 1750, sailors sought other methods to control the wind. But villagers who couldn't afford doctors were more dependent on them.

Many witches were excellent healers despite being banned from practicing medicine in the 13th century. They offered a variety of treatments that are still found in drugs today. These include willow bark for inflammation (aspirin was developed from a chemical found in the willow tree), garlic for cholesterol (though research on its efficacy is inconclusive), and flying ointment of henbane, nightshade and mandrake. While we don't use it for flying now, the plant henbane contains hyoscine used for motion sickness and nightshade contains atropine, a muscle relaxant.

In 17th century France, witches could earn a grand living selling love potions and poisons. Catherine Deshayes, also known as La Voisin, amassed a fortune selling women potions to poison a spouse or competitor — including selling to Louis XIV's mistress. She also provided abortions. Deshayes was burned at the stake in 1680.

Witch hunters often treated independent women with suspicion. Between 1620 and 1725 in New England, 89% of women put on trial for witchcraft were wealthy, with no male children nor male siblings to share in their inheritance.

Read more: The dark history behind Halloween is even more chilling than you realized

Pagan rituals to social media

Deshayes was a satanist. The wind sellers were pagan because they did not adhere to Christian beliefs. Yet they led the way to the development of the Wicca form of modern witchcraft in the mid-20th century.

In 1954, Gerald Gardner, considered the founder of modern Wicca, published the book Witchcraft Today and founded his first coven.

By 2014, the Pew Research Center estimated almost 1 million Americans identified as Wiccan or pagan.

Spiritual pathways come with accoutrements, whether they be rosary beads, incense, or crystals. So, like the wind knots sold to 13th century sailors, witchcraft has enduring revenue potential.

On dark moonlit nights, Renate Daniel, a small business owner and witch from Newcastle, can be found working either in a cemetery in Wollombi, New South Wales, laying flowers on gravestones while showing tourists on a ghost tour, or assisting in a paranormal investigation.

Witches can combine different spiritual practices alongside their witchcraft. Sydney witch, Janine Donnellan combines healing magic with Reiki and chakra balancing. Books like the one written by musician Fiona Horne and businesses like Witchin' Wares cater to the estimated 22,000 Australians who identify as Wiccan and pagan.

Witchcraft for most practitioners isn't all about commerce. Donnellan says she has "a few people in the freezer" — meaning she has worked spells meant to keep negative energy away by putting someone's name in a bag, filling it up with water and freezing it.

The American psychic services industry — including palm readers, mediums, and astrologists — is worth $2.2 billion, mostly from small businesses.

Savvy witches are thriving on the internet. #witchtok on TikTok has had over 5.3 billion views, and #witchesofinstagram has more than 5.5 million posts. You can buy over 400,000 products tagged "witch" on Etsy, from candles to spell bottles to pentagram necklaces.

Read more: How a 'professional namer' broke into the field of branding major companies and products, and his tips for choosing a name that sells

Corporate witchcraft

It isn't just cottage psychics and online influencers getting in on the act. Large corporations are exploring the mystical — with mixed success.

The Ouija Board, a tool witches and spiritualists said helped them commune with spirits, was patented in 1891 by the Kennard Novelty Company. Within a year, the company grew from one factory in Baltimore to two in Baltimore, two in New York, two in Chicago, and one in London. By 1967, the patent was in the hands of toy company Parker Brothers and annual ouija board sales reached 2 million — more than Monopoly.

In 2018, cosmetics giant Sephora launched their $42 "Starter Witch Kit", containing sage, tarot cards, and rose quartz. After witches around the globe decried it as cultural appropriation, Sephora pulled the product from the market.

This controversy hasn't dissuaded other corporations. Last year Airbnb offered fall equinox rituals as holiday experiences. Urban Outfitters sell smudge sticks, tarot cards, and crystals in their US stores and witch hat incense holders in Australian outlets. Booktopia sells tarot cards.

Witches can also claim globally recognized marketing iconography in the form of the black hat. Though COVID has put a dampener on Halloween, Americans are still expected to spend $8 billion on the holiday with pagan roots.

The commercialization of witchcraft has allowed modern witches to prosper financially without the fear of being burned at the stake, drowned, or tortured. Now, having come out of the broom closet, there is no going back.

Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan, PhD candidate and author, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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8 European cities ripe for investment in the 2020s, from a property manager who built a $1 billion portfolio

  • Europe still faces a volatile real estate market and the expected decrease in home prices over the next year could mean it is the right time for savvy real estate investors to buy.
  • Stephane De Baets, founder and president of Elevated Returns and a longtime real estate investor, gave us his picks.
  • Zug and Ibiza are two of the eight cities that make the cut.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The real estate market in some parts of Europe is getting hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Deloitte's 2020 property index, the residential real estate market is forecast to stagnate in terms of prices and see a decline in transaction activities. All are indicators that a savvy investor could swoop in.

"When you feel that this is the end of the world and everything will go down to zero, when you have that feeling in your stomach, that probably tells you that it's the right time to buy," said longtime real estate manager Stephane De Baets,  founder and president of international asset management firm Elevated Returns.

Elevated Returns says the value of its property value is more than $1 billion, and the firm controls the St. Regis Aspen Resort in Aspen, Colorado, and the Thailand T77 office buildings of Sansiri's headquarters, as well as other properties in the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

De Baets told Business Insider that while real estate investments are great opportunities to earn extra money, investors should think about long-term results, and think carefully about the locations — some cities will be more profitable than others in the long run. 

Resort destinations due to staycations and leisure cities will do really well as people prioritize wellbeing over money, he said: "It's important to try and understand what changes are temporary and which ones might last a long time."

These are the cities that De Beats said investors should pay close attention to amplify returns.

Florence, Italy

Florence is the eighth-biggest city in Italy and located in the center of the country. It's a famous tourist destination thanks to the Renaissance art masterpieces and architecture. According to De Beats, it's also gentrified — he points to the presence of high-end brands in the city as evidence.

"The right brands are moving into Florence. We always try to see those early indicators into a town, because we know that these people are tastemakers," he said. 

Home prices average around $5,454 per square meter, with the median rent at $1,036.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid is the biggest city in Spain and located in the center of the country. It's well-known for its boulevards, parks like Buen Retiro, and for institutions like the Prado Museum.

According to De Baets, people will migrate to places with good quality of life — and Spain is one.

He says Spain's economic crisis prior to the pandemic has led to cheaper property that he believes will lift in value. "Property developers will need to offload their inventories and the property is going to be worth a lot more three years from now," he told Business Insider.

"The key is to have a good opportunity [in terms of costs] and have the quality of life," he said.

Home prices average around $3,900 per square meter, with the median monthly rent at $16 per square meter.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain and located on the east coast of the country. Tourist hotspots include the Sagrada Família church and artworks dotted around the city by the city's most famous son, Antoni Gaudí. Famed art museums include the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró.

Home prices average around $3,900 per square meter, with the median monthly rent at $1,258.

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands, the archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. It's famous for the nightlife in Ibiza Town and Sant Antoni. But it's also home to quiet towns such as Playa D'En Bossa.

According to De Baets, Ibiza is a great place for remote working. For the price of a two-bedroom apartment in New York, you can have a seven-bedroom mansion in Ibiza, a nice workplace, and a good internet connection, he said.

Home prices average around $8,058 per square meter, with the median monthly rent at $1,333.

London, United Kingdom

London is the biggest city in the United Kingdom and located in the south-east of England. It's known for its diverse food and cultural scene and iconic sights such as the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

According to De Baets, people will always come back to London because of its multicultural vibe, and due to young professionals moving there for jobs.

Home prices average around $871,599 with the median monthly rent at $2,151.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is the biggest city in Portugal and located on the south-west coast. It features historic attractions and UNESCO heritages such as the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

According to De Baets, Portugal sits alongside Italy, Spain, and Switzerland as a location where people are set to travel the most in the near future, making them good investments. 

Home prices average around $701,430 with the median rent at $1,726.

Montreux, Switzerland

Montreux is a resort town on Lake Geneva. The Montreux Riviera is known for its micro climate and the July Montreux Jazz Festival.

According to De Baets, it's "a synonym for wellness." As people focus more on taking care of themselves, wellness destinations will become more popular, especially post COVID.

Home prices average around $1,466,454 with the median rent at $1,984.

Zug, Switzerland

Zug is the largest town and capital of the Swiss canton Zug.

The area is the cryptocurrency capital of Switzerland. According to De Baets, it is going to be the "Silicon Valley crypto [capital] of Europe" in the next five years, since it has special tax and licensing allowances for anyone involved in the digital asset and crypto business.

De Baets predicts a rise in conferences and a relocation of businesses to Zug, making it a "smart choice" for commercial or residential investment.

Home prices average around $3,087,271. with the median rent at $2,717.

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We all have 168 hours in a week. Here's how to budget that time more effectively, according to a Kellogg professor of leadership.

  • Henry Kraemer is a clinical professor of leadership at the Kellogg School of Management and the former CEO of Baxter International. 
  • He says that using time wisely requires us to be self-reflective and match our personal values with the activities we choose to do.
  • Kraemer stresses the importance of not confusing activity with productivity — you don't always have to be rushing around, doing things externally, to get a lot done. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Trying to achieve more balance in your life? Harry Kraemer has an exercise for you.

Make a grid with six rows for each of the major aspects of your life, which Kramer defines for everyone as career, family, health, spirituality, fun, and volunteering. Then decide how much of your time you would ideally like to be devoting to each of these activities. Next, figure out how much you actually are devoting. Finally, calculate the difference.

"Only attempt this exercise if you're in a really good mood," cautioned Kraemer, the former CEO of Baxter International who is now a clinical professor of leadership at Kellogg. The reason: very few people match what they want to be doing with what they actually are doing.

"Every one of us has 168 hours" in a week, Kraemer said. "Do you know where you're spending your time? And are you spending it where you believe it matters most?"

This is the topic of Kraemer's new book, "Your 168: Finding Purpose and Satisfaction in a Values-Based Life." He discussed this exercise as well as other thoughts on living a values-based life in a recent webinar from Kellogg Executive Education.

The way you spend your time, Kraemer says, should match up with your personal values. So how do you determine what those values are?

The first step is to engage in an activity that Kraemer regularly espouses for leaders: self-reflection. "Turn off the noise. Think through: What are my values, what's my purpose, what really matters?" And do this while keeping in mind that a value is not simply a preference; it is something that you are not willing to compromise or negotiate.

The pandemic, despite all the horrors it has brought, has provided some people with more time for self-reflection. Kraemer advises them to use this as an opportunity to think through how the changes in their lives may be making it easier to align with their values. For instance, someone who used to travel a lot for business may ask themselves, "Do I need to fly to San Francisco for a three-hour meeting? Would it make more sense to do a phone call and spend more time with my children? Before COVID, was I confusing activity with productivity?"

Once you've engaged in self-reflection to identify the values you hold dear, Kraemer says, then you need to find a solid sounding board who will tell you whether you are living those values. This could be a family member, close colleague, or religious leader, for example.

"Find people whose values you appreciate, whom you admire, who can give you an honest appraisal of whether you're on track or not," he said. And if they say you're not, you need to engage in self-reflection to figure out how to get there.

Soliciting feedback is a key leadership skill in any context, Kraemer explains. Yet, as you rise through the ranks at an organization, it can often get more difficult to get anything other than sugar-coated counsel.

One way to ensure you're getting straight talk is to make sure that you're interacting with everyone in the company. This means going well beyond your own team.

For example, Kraemer says that when he was leading Baxter, he'd show up unannounced for the interns' softball games. Now that he sits on several corporate boards, he makes a point of arriving early for meetings so that he can interact with more than just his fellow board members. He'll go to the cafeteria and strike up conversations with employees of all levels. Showing people that you will treat everyone equally and as individuals means you'll learn much more about what's happening in your company.

"You find out a tremendous amount of what's going on by being able to cut through the hierarchy," he said. Plus, "it keeps you grounded."

Next, you need to show people that you are prepared to act on feedback, even if it runs counter to what you had believed. For example, say you come to a meeting with a project idea but one of your team members suggests trying something else. Thank them for the feedback, Kraemer says, probe for more information with good questions, and then, assuming their idea is valid, assign them to lead up the project in the way they suggested.

"You have to find ways to demonstrate how much you really want the feedback," Kraemer said. Once others see this, they'll start offering you their true opinions, too.

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7 phrases people think are okay to say at work but are actually ageist against your coworkers

  • One out of every five American workers age 40 and older said they've faced age discrimination, according to the 2019 Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace Study. 
  • But ageism also impacts younger workers, too. 
  • Sometimes ageism comes out in the form of microaggressions, which are indirect, often unintentional expressions of prejudice.
  • Statements that assume an older worker won't want to adopt a new technology or that a younger colleague is an intern are exclusionary and hurtful. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's age. And it's a big problem in the US.

One out of every five American workers age 40 and older said they have faced age discrimination, according to the 2019 Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace Study. 

And if you've never experienced ageism, you likely will, according to AARP, whose 2019 investigation called the form of prejudice "widespread" and the "last acceptable bias." While ageism is more often directed at older workers, it can also happen to younger workers (or workers who appear young), too. 

Sometimes ageism comes out in the form of microaggressions, which are indirect, often unintentional expressions of prejudice. They can make your colleagues feel undervalued, excluded, or harassed. 

Phrases that are subtly ageist against your older coworkers 

"Maybe we shouldn't give that project to John, he might have trouble learning the new technology." 

The belief that older workers aren't technologically savvy or capable of learning new platforms is damaging and untrue.  

A 2016 Dropbox survey of more than 4,000 IT workers around the world found that workers ages 55 and older and those ages 18-34 used nearly the same number of forms of technology a week — 5 and 4.67, respectively, Fortune reported.

"We're looking for a youthful, energetic, agile worker to join our team." 

This type of language can make an older worker feel like they might not fit into your company culture. At best it's exclusionary, at worst, it's discrimination.  

"Ok, Boomer!" 

Many young people have taken up this phrase as a catch-all response to a problematic comment made by someone older than them. But it makes older workers feel dismissed or humiliated. If a coworker has said something you don't agree with, you can easily voice your opinion or state a fact without attacking them personally. 

"You probably won't want to use this new platform, but…" 

A 2005 Louisiana State University study analyzed employee's willingness to adopt new computer technology. It found that older workers weren't just willing to learn the new technology, they were actually more willing than their younger counterparts.  

"It's this new trend you probably haven't heard of…" 

This type of comment assumes your older worker lives under a rock, which is pretty insensitive.

It goes without saying, but they're in touch with the cultural zeitgeist just as much as any younger person.

Phrases that are subtly ageist against your younger coworkers 

"Are you an intern?" 

When you meet someone who looks younger than you, don't assume they're an intern or an entry-level worker. That assumption can make your colleague feel like they're not going to be taken seriously, which is damaging.  

"It's this long-standing theory you probably haven't heard of…" 

This type of comment assumes your younger colleague isn't educated or informed on things that may have come before their time. If you worry someone might not know what you're talking about, wait for them to ask you. 

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