CNBC make it 2024-02-08 00:50:57

Harvard-trained nutrition expert: If I could only prioritize one food in my diet, it’d be this

Meat is good for you. There are experts who might disagree with me, and many researchers continue to search for evidence linking meat to heart disease, for example.

But as a Harvard-trained, board-certified psychiatrist specializing in nutritional and metabolic psychiatry, I’ve long been curious about the relationship between food and brain health, as well as overall well-being. And in my research, I’ve yet to find a credible, plausible health argument against eating meat of any kind (including red meat, seafood, and poultry).

In fact, no other food group is nutritious enough, safe enough, or geographically accessible enough to recommend as the healthy foundation of the optimal human diet. 

So if I could only afford to buy food from one food group, I’d prioritize meat.

Why meat is actually good for you

Meat is good for gut health because it’s non-irritating, easy to digest, and supports healthy insulin levels without promoting blood glucose spikes.

It also provides all of the macronutrients and micronutrients we need, including some that are difficult or impossible to obtain from plant foods. For instance, it’s an excellent source of every B vitamin, including B7, which plants contain very little of, and B12, which plants do not contain at all.

Only meat contains heme iron, a form of iron at least three times easier for us to absorb than the non-heme iron in plants. And only animal-source foods contain the MK‑4 form of vitamin K2, which is easier to absorb (and is the form used by the human brain).

Some scientists even argue that eating meat made us human — meaning that it allowed us to devote less energy and bodily real estate to the long intestinal tract needed to process high-fiber, high-plant diets, so that we could invest more energy in developing our uniquely oversized brains.

How to nourish, protect, and energize your brain with meat

Here’s how to incorporate meat in your diet the right way: 

  • Choose healthy meats. Whenever possible, choose meats from wild animals or animals that have been raised humanely, allowed ample access to the outdoors, and fed a species-appropriate diet.
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you can’t access or afford high-quality meat, just do the best you can. 
  • It doesn’t have to be red meat. Shellfish, fatty fish, duck, and poultry liver are all highly nutritious alternatives to red meat (meat of mammals).
  • Eat fresh. Choose unprocessed fresh (or freshly frozen) meats whenever possible. 
  • Don’t fear natural animal fats. Fattier cuts of meat are more flavorful, more nutritious, and often less expensive. Unfortunately, pork and poultry fat from conventionally-raised animals can be high in linoleic acid, a fragile omega-6 fatty acid with a tendency to degrade into toxic byproducts that can cause damaging oxidative stress throughout the brain and the rest of the body.
  • Cook gently. Don’t overcook meat, as this will damage nutrients and flavor. Trim away any burned or blackened areas of meats grilled or cooked at high temperatures. 
  • Think about your protein goal. While protein targets vary depending on age, ideal body weight, health status, activity level, and other factors, most adult requirements fall somewhere between 0.6 and one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. For example: A woman whose ideal body weight is 125 pounds would require at least 75 grams of protein per day — roughly the amount found in one pound of 85% lean ground beef (which contains just over five grams of protein per ounce).
  • Don’t overdo it. Overeating protein can promote higher insulin levels (and even slightly higher glucose levels in some people). 

There are plenty of unanswered questions about nutrition, but I’d say the answer to “Does meat belong in the human diet?” is a resounding yes.

Georgia Ede, MD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist specializing in nutrition science and brain metabolism. Her 25 years of clinical experience include 12 years as a psychiatrist and nutrition consultant at Smith College and Harvard University Health Services. She is also the author of ”Change Your Diet, Change Your Mind.” 

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. Get started today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

This is an adapted excerpt from ”Change Your Diet, Change Your Mind: A Powerful Plan to Improve Mood, Overcome Anxiety, and Protect Memory for a Lifetime of Optimal Mental Health.” Copyright © 2024, Dr. Georgia Ede. Reproduced by permission of Balance. All rights reserved.

Early retiree who earned $380,000 in passive income last year: The ‘best option’ to get started

Sam Dogen knows a thing or two about passive income.

By the time he left his investment banking day job in 2012, Dogen, the founder of Financial Samurai and the author of “Buy This, Not That,” had built up about $80,000 in annual income outside the office. Combined with a hefty severance he negotiated for, he determined that was enough money to live on.

It was for a while, but when he and his wife decided to stay in San Francisco and have a couple of kids, the family’s cost of living shot up. By reinvesting his passive income along with money he made through his website and book sales, Dogen was able to boost the family’s income over the years as well.

In 2023, Dogen’s passive income portfolio, which includes stock, bond and real estate investments, among others, generated about $380,000.

If you’re looking to build a similar stream of passive income, you’ll have to start somewhere — and likely without the help of an investment banker’s salary or severance package. According to Dogen, the best way to begin earning passive income is through your brokerage account.

“If you want passive income right now, I think the best option is Treasury bonds at 5%,” he says. “It’s amazing.”

How to use your brokerage account to earn passive income

You can buy Treasury bonds through most major online brokerages, as Dogen points out. Treasurys are considered among the safest possible investments because they are issued and backed by the U.S. government, which has never defaulted on its debt.

And given the recent rise in short-term interest rates, short-dated Treasurys — known as T-bills — look particularly attractive. A 1-year Treasury currently pays an interest rate of 4.73%, with shorter-dated bonds yielding even more.

“Right now, Treasurys are the most attractive, with 1-year Treasury bonds yielding about 5%,” Dogen says. “You can buy a bond for $1,000 tomorrow for 5% guaranteed, and you don’t have to pay state income tax [on the interest income].”

You can earn passive income by investing in stocks, too. Dogen has a large portion of his equity holdings in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500. While you may not think of a broad market index fund as an income-producing investment, it is. Stocks in the index currently yield an average of 1.5%.

You can keep a broad equity exposure while earning more income by choosing a dividend-focused mutual fund or exchange-traded fund, says Dogen. He suggests shopping for a fund that tracks so-called “Dividend Aristocrats” — companies that have maintained and raised a dividend payout for at least 25 consecutive years.

“These are larger-cap names, like McDonald’s, that have good cash flow and pay higher dividends,” he says.

Stocks in the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index currently yield about 2.6%, on average.

Investing in real estate: Get to ‘neutral’

Stock and bond distributions have a couple of advantages over other forms of passive income. For one, you don’t need much money to start. Buy one share (or even a partial share) of an ETF, and you’re in.

The other advantage is that it’s truly passive. The same can’t be said of real estate, says Dogen. Although profits he earns from his rental properties factor into his passive income calculation, he’s the first to tell you that managing properties requires time and effort.

“Being a landlord is not passive income. It’s semi-passive,” he says. “And if you’re unlucky, it’s active income with a lot of headaches.”

Getting into the landlord game might not be the place to start your passive income journey, but you’d still be wise to start saving for at least one down payment, Dogen says: your own.

“I recommend everybody get neutral real estate by owning your primary residence, especially if you know where you want to live for at least five years,” Dogen says.

Owning a home gets you to “neutral” on real estate, he says, because renters are counting on housing costs staying where they are or falling.

“You probably shouldn’t be renting forever, because there’s a history of real estate going up [in value],” Dogen says. By owning, you essentially ride the ups and downs of inflation and housing prices while building equity in your home at a regular, fixed cost.

A few years after you buy, your real housing costs will likely feel significantly cheaper, he says, because because your payments remain the same despite generally rising salaries and housing costs.

In short: “Once you get neutral real estate, life gets a little bit easier.”

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31-year-old who brought in $101,000 in a month: I thought I’d ‘make scraps’ without a college degree

Cassiy Johnson’s side hustles help her make more money without a college degree than she ever expected.

In March 2020, Johnson was furloughed from her daycare sales job. A YouTube video told her that a “print-on-demand” side hustles was, in her words, a “simple and easy” way to earn cash. So, she started creating T-shirt designs on her phone and posting them on Etsy.

In print-on-demand selling, people create designs on blank templates — T-shirts, mugs, tote bags — and wait for people to order them. Then, they send the orders to manufacturers, which print and ship each shirt upon request.

After a year and a half, Johnson’s side gig earned enough revenue for her to leave her full-time sales job. The 31-year-old leveraged the business into three revenue streams: the print-on-demand shop, another Etsy store called StopMockAndRoll and a YouTube channel, where she teaches her 126,000 subscribers how to duplicate her efforts.

The YouTube channel is currently the most lucrative, Johnson says. And the print-on-demand store brought in more than $766,000 since 2020, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. In its most successful month, she sold $100,900 worth of T-shirts and mugs on Etsy.

Johnson estimates a third of her store’s revenue was profit, until she closed the shop earlier this month. A publicity-led influx of views lowered her store’s sales conversion rate, jeopardizing her spot in Etsy’s search algorithms, she says. (Etsy didn’t immediately respond to Make It’s request for comment.)

She’s already started a new print-on-demand store, she says. It’s all a big turnaround from her life pre-pandemic: “I’m going to make scraps without a degree,” she recalls once telling herself.

A ‘first taste of being successful’

Johnson grew up in Howell, Michigan, a rural town bordering Thompson Lake, an hour’s drive northwest from Detroit. She became pregnant at age 16, dropped out of high school and worked odd jobs — at fast food restaurants, movie theaters, roller rinks — to pay her bills.

She got her GED, and at age 19, her “first taste of being successful at something” when she was hired as a salesperson at Art Van, a now-closed Midwestern furniture store chain. The job, she says, changed her life.

It was invaluable to have a manager who believed in her. She felt she made a difference in people’s lives, efficiently helping them find what they wanted. After a couple years, she was regularly her store’s top salesperson, she says.

“Without knowing what you’re good at, it’s hard to be a confident person,” says Johnson, adding: “I watched everyone I went to high school with go to college and start careers while I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet.”

By the time Johnson launched her Etsy store, she was making $70,000 per year as a salesperson. It was the “worst job” she ever had, but it offered enough benefits for her to support her family, she says.

“I started looking for a 9-to-5 type job that paid better, but there isn’t much for people without degrees,” she notes. Instead, she found something else she was good at, helping her leave the world of sales entirely.

The value of confidence

Confidence really can make you more successful, according to leadership experts.

It’s the key to making “very impactful decisions,” whether you’re a manager or an entry-level employee, Bonnie Low-Kramen, author of the 2023 book “Staff Matters,” told CNBC Make It last month.

“Confidence is very serious business, and the single most important differentiator in the world place,” Low-Kramen, a workplace expert and CEO coach, wrote in her book. “It will be the person with the high confidence and lower abilities who will get the job over the person with low confidence and higher abilities.”

Johnson leans into that confidence while running her three businesses.

“I’m not a magical unicorn,” she says. Rather, she adds, her background and the self-help business books she started reading at age 19 taught her how to cultivate a “winning mindset,” effectively set and achieve goals, and help customers find what they want.

“I’m sure [my past has] given me some grit,” says Johnson. “I think that’s what really sets me apart. I’m not afraid to put in the hours, and I don’t have the expectation of like, ‘What if I fail?’ So what if I do? Then I’ll find out.”

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If you answer yes to these 15 questions, you are happier than most people, says longevity expert

I’ve spent the last 20 years studying the five Blue ZonesOkinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. These areas are home to the world’s longest-living people. 

While researching for my book, “The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People,” I spoke with Dan Witters, who has been the Research Director of the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index since 2008, in an effort to figure out the hallmarks of the most content communities.

Witters told me that authentic happiness emerges from a cluster of interconnected factors that almost always appear in a pack. He identified 15 of what he calls “cowbell” metrics that signal true happiness.

How many of these ring true for you?

If you agree with these statements, you are happier than most people

  1. You manage your finances well and live within your means. You have enough money to do everything you want to do.
  2. You set and reach goals on an ongoing basis.
  3. You always make time for trips or vacations with family and friends.
  4. You use your strengths to do what you do best every day.
  5. You feel safe and secure in your community.
  6. You learn something new or interesting every day.
  7. You have someone in your life who encourages you to be healthy.
  8. You eat healthy every day.
  9. You eat five servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days every week.
  10. You get to the dentist at least once per year.
  11. In the last 12 months, you have received recognition for helping to improve the city or area where you live.
  12. You don’t smoke.
  13. You are of a normal, healthy weight. 
  14. You exercise at least 30 minutes at least three days per week.
  15. You are active and productive every day.

How to find your happy place

If you want to maximize your well-being, either where you currently live or in a new place, there are a few more guidelines that you can keep in mind.

Communities that are designed with these metrics often thrive and promote longevity:

  • Trust. There is a cohort of trustworthy politicians, police, and neighbors.
  • Walkability. Sidewalks and safe streets facilitate physical activity and socializing.
  • Access to nature. There is proximity to parks, open spaces, and trees.
  • Civic engagement. People actively contribute to a willing city government on maintaining and approving quality of life.
  • Clean environment. There is clean water, air, and land.
  • Healthy teeth. People have access to affordable and regular dental care.
  • People-friendly streets. Quiet, safe streets that favor humans over cars.
  • Healthy behaviors. There are local restrictions on smoking, less obesity, and less drug abuse. 
  • Healthy food. Farmers’ markets, local restaurants, plant-based food that’s easier to find than fast food from chain restaurants.

The writer E.B. White said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” The key is to find that sweet spot between savoring life now and doing things that lead to a richer, more meaningful outcome in the future.

Dan Buettner is an explorer, longevity researcher, National Geographic Fellow, and award-winning journalist and producer. He is also the author of the best-selling books “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” and “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.” Follow Dan on Instagram @danbuettner.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. Get started today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

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This is an adapted excerpt from ”The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People″ by Dan Buettner, published by National GeographicCopyright © 2017 by Dan Buettner.

Jeff Bezos hired this Amazon job applicant ‘on the spot’—here are the 2 interview questions he asked

People always want to know how I got Jeff Bezos to take a chance and hire me to work directly for him at Amazon in 2002.

Initially, I hadn’t thought about applying to Amazon. When I was growing up in Redmond, Washington, most of my friends’ parents were tech executives, and while they made good money, their lives didn’t look particularly fun to me. But many of my classmates were graduating without job offers, so I felt as if I should explore all options.

I submitted my resume to Amazon without much thought. To my surprise, I was called in for a first-round interview for a junior assistant role. I had no connections at the company, no computer science degree, and absolutely no experience working for a CEO.

My job interview experience at Amazon

My initial interviews at Amazon were dizzying in volume and pace. I had back-to-back interviews with all of the senior assistants, some of them lasting all day.

One interview took place in a dark office with just the glow of a code-filled monitor and a weird multicolored rotating nightlight in the corner.

I had known enough tech people in my life and was used to the awkward settings. I just chalked up the encounter to one of those personalities uniquely suited for the tech world and was unfazed by it.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to acing your interview and landing your dream job

A few months later, after I had not heard back and was beginning to lose all hope, the phone rang: An Amazon recruiter asked me to come back for a final interview. She apologized for the long, drawn-out process and promised me that this would be the last one.

What she didn’t tell me was that it would be with Bezos himself.

The 2 interview questions Jeff Bezos asked me

I felt relaxed going into the interview that October morning. I was patiently sitting in a conference room chair when the door opened and in walked Bezos. He sat down across from me and introduced himself.

Bezos started the interview by promising that he was only going to ask two questions and that the first one would be a “fun” brainteaser.

I took a deep breath as he stood up and uncapped a pen at the whiteboard wall. “I’ll do the math,” he said. “I want you to estimate the number of panes of glass in the city of Seattle.”

I was momentarily terrified.

Then I paused to calm down, reminding myself to think about his motivation for asking me that question. He wants to see the way my mind works, I told myself. He wants to see me break down a complicated problem into small, manageable steps. I can do that.

I outlined how I would start with the number of people in Seattle, which I thankfully correctly guessed as around 1 million, just to make the math easier. Then I said that they would each have a home, a mode of transportation, and an office or school — all of which would have windows. So I suggested that we base the estimate on averages of those.

Then we did the math.

We got down into every possible scenario, group, anomaly and ways to account for these exceptions. It felt like I talked it through for hours while Bezos filled the whiteboard with numbers. I’m sure it actually took more like 10 minutes.

I remember feeling a thrill when he wrote down the final estimate. He circled it. “That looks about right,” he said.


He then asked me the second question: “What are your career goals?”

I told him that Amazon had proven to be a company full of ambitious and passionate people. I wanted to be like them and learn what they knew. Their strengths were in the areas I personally wanted to develop, so the value of the experience was obvious, even though it felt like a diversion from my goal of being a professor.

I explained that I had no idea how to be an assistant, but that I knew the importance of being consistently outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to jump into an astronomical learning and growth curve.

Knowing Bezos as well as I do now, I see why those were his only two questions. He was measuring my potential by asking questions that would explore whether I had the grit, courage and motivation to run at his pace and be brave enough to consistently jump with him and level up.

By the end of the interview, we both knew I would do anything to be successful, despite being a very junior candidate.

Then I was done. Exhausted, exhilarated, done.

Bezos ended up hiring me on the spot. He gave me the open desk just three feet away from his own. It was the closest desk to him at the company.

Grit, ambition and energy is more valuable than a specific skill set

It took years for me to fully understand why Bezos took a chance on me and gave me that big break. He exclusively surrounded himself with people he had to hold back, not push forward. He created teams of people so ambitious, creative and determined that they made up for any expertise they lacked.

In that kind of environment, Bezos would only have to use his energy as a leader to channel our energy, rather than trying to pull it out of us.

I learned that the key to Bezos and Amazon’s early success was this tireless pursuit of the exceptional.

Ever since that early hiring experience, I have always aimed to be the person who needs to be held back, not pushed forward. I have sought out teams that would challenge, support and inspire me to do things far beyond my current abilities, and that has led to more satisfaction in my work life than anything else.

Ann Hiatt is a Silicon Valley veteran with 15 years of experience working as an executive business partner for Jeff Bezos, Marissa Mayer and Eric Schmidt. Ann recently founded a consulting company with CEO clients across the globe where she applies the lessons of innovation, ambition, growth at scale and forward-thinking leadership she learned at Amazon and Google. She is also the author of “Bet on Yourself: Recognize, Own, and Implement Breakthrough Opportunities.” Follow her on Twitter @annrhiatt.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. Get started today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

This is an adapted excerpt from “Bet on Yourself” by Ann Hiatt. Copyright © 2021 by Ann Hiatt. Used by permission of HarperCollins Leadership.

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