CNBC make it 2024-02-22 02:50:50

28-year-old has lived in an old NYC laundromat for 5 years, pays $1,900 in rent—take a look inside

When Sampson Dahl, 28, found a former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens on an online forum back in 2019, he had no idea how much the space would become his life.

Early last year, CNBC Make It met Dahl after his former laundromat-turned-apartment went viral on TikTok. At the time, he was paying $1,850 a month — his rent has since increased to $1,900.

At the start of 2023, Dahl was working in TV and film set design — which allowed him access to a lot of the furniture and décor you see throughout his apartment — but the Writers Guild of America strike put a pause on any new work and forced Dahl to rethink the unlikely home he had created.

“I’ve gotten to focus on the space a lot, so I’ve been throwing shows, events, and intimate gatherings almost weekly at this point,” Dahl tells CNBC Make It. “It’s been a great opportunity to kind of dive into the space more.”

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Dahl doesn’t make a lot of money from the events, but he says what he earns from the door charge is enough to help make his monthly rent payments and continue living alone.

Last year, Dahl told CNBC Make It that he only lives in the former laundromat because it’s what he can afford. Now, Dahl says he is looking more seriously into moving. “I don’t want to be there forever. In my best case scenario, I leave, and I don’t think about it for a while, and then come to visit in 10 years, and it’s something surprising to me,” he says.

While he has enjoyed living in an alternative space, Dahl thinks he might be ready for a more traditional apartment.

But he doesn’t intend to leave the old laundromat behind completely.

In an ideal world, Dahl says he would renovate the laundromat and have a core group of people continuing to operate it as an event space.

“My goal with this space is just to keep it existing, and I think that my friends have no ulterior mission to make a functioning business out of it,” Dahl says. “I’m not against utilizing it as a storefront but I think the neighbors appreciate having a space that adds a different mood. The block I live on informs me and a certain pace of life. Most of my neighbors are retirees and the laundromat is the same.”

When Dahl does move, he says he’ll miss his neighbors and hosting old and new friends in his home at all hours of the day. “I love them so much,” he says.

“I’d love to live across the street. I’ve been looking for years and always keep my eye on the block.”

Living in such an unconventional space has helped Dahl learn to enjoy his home for what it is now instead of trying to turn it into something bigger. “In a place that values commercial success and economic growth, it’s rare to be able to enjoy stasis in a place like this,” Dahl says.

“I think the greatest thing I’ve found living in the laundromat is providing a room where someone can exist without direct purpose.”

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.

42-year-old spent $1,000 to launch her Amazon side hustle—now it brings in $33,000 a week

Jenny Woo came up with her seven-figure side hustle in a classroom.

She was working on her master’s degree in education at Harvard University, learning about emotional intelligence and child development. The former C-suite consultant and school director thought just about everyone could benefit from learning more about both.

She wasn’t sure how to make the topics easy or interesting to learn, until her professor passed out a deck of cards to play with in class. At that moment, she says, it clicked: She could make an EQ game.

Woo spent roughly $1,000 from her savings to launch her side hustle, Mind Brain Emotion, in 2018. The company, still a one-woman side hustle, makes 11 different EQ-focused card games meant to help train people of all ages on concepts like relationship skills, critical thinking and even job interviews.

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Mind Brain Emotion brought in more than $1.71 million in revenue on Amazon last year, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. It averages roughly $32,900 in revenue per week, and Woo, 42, estimates 40% of that revenue is profit.

It’s relatively passive profit, too. Between Woo’s four income streams — the games, lecturing at the University of California, Irvine, running an online course on EQ and freelance business consulting — she works anywhere from three to 30 hours per week, she says.

Here’s how she built her biggest income stream, and how she balances her time:

Juggling careers, education and family

Most of Woo’s professional life has revolved around people. After college, she became a Deloitte consultant, training managers on how to communicate and lead efficiently. She worked as a personal trainer, got an MBA from the University of California, Berkley, and helped train Cisco employees “in the pipeline to become C-suite executives.”

Those roles taught her something: People climbing the corporate ladder didn’t always have EQ skills like social awareness, self-awareness, self-management and relationship management. It held some major organizations back, she says.

Woo left Cisco to pursue a party decoration side hustle called PropMama. When all three of her children became preschool-aged, she got involved in their Montessori school in Southern California — researching child development and deciding to apply for the school’s administrative director role.

She got the job, and did it while running PropMama and freelance consulting for select clients. The change was exciting — she had a history of pivoting careers when jobs started to feel “cookie-cutter,” she says — but balancing her interests left her life and resume scattered.

“Juggling part-time jobs and side hustles aren’t easy,” says Woo. “It’s a lot of sheer grind and not knowing the payoff.”

A million-dollar idea

When budget cuts hit the school, Woo was laid off. Still interested in education, she applied to Harvard University’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior program, got accepted and moved her family to Boston.

She arrived on Harvard’s campus with one goal, she says: “Smuggle out wisdom and research” about EQ, and package it for people outside “the ivory tower” of higher education. For three months, Woo developed the game at the Harvard Innovation Labs, buying sample decks of cards and testing them in local classrooms.

Her first deck, called “52 Essential Conversations,” has two questions on every card: an icebreaker and a longer prompt designed to prompt deeper conversation. Players flip over the cards and take turns answering the questions.

On one card — the five of spades — the icebreaker asks you to describe who you are and how others describe you. The longer prompt, designed to promote social awareness, asks you to think of two other people you know, and consider how you’re alike and different.

A month before graduating from the Harvard program, Woo launched a Kickstarter campaign for the deck with a $1,500 goal. Thirty-one days later, it’d raised more than $10,000, and she launched her game on Amazon.

In 2019, Woo raised an additional $7,500 in a second Kickstarter campaign, and the business brought in six figures in revenue, she says.

A burgeoning family affair

After graduating from the Harvard program, Woo — never one to sit still — moved her family back to Southern California and started an education PhD program at the University of California, Irvine.

She graduated in 2022, and is now a lecturer at the college. She occasionally hires friends to help her handle Mind Brain Emotion’s administrative tasks, so she can keep her working hours minimal, she says.

She’s hesitant to hire anyone in a full-time role, she adds, partially because she wants her pre-teen and teenage children to take over the business one day. EQ is already part of their lives, says Woo: She helps them host videos on Mind Brain Emotion’s YouTube channel, teaching other kids emotional intelligence skills.

Her kids are mostly enthusiastic about it, she says — she motivates them by asking if they want to channel their “inner YouTubers.” Some of the videos only have double-digit views. One, titled “Teach Your Toddler How to Set the Table,” has more than 75,000.

To Woo, the videos and card games show that humans want to learn more about themselves and the world around them.

Emotional intelligence is one of “the essential things that never go out of style,” she says. “We all need [EQ skills] in order to be happy, fulfilled, purposeful and, honestly, decent, good human beings.”

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.

If you invested $1,000 in Nvidia 10 years ago, here’s how much money you’d have now

As excitement surrounding artificial intelligence technology appears to show few signs of slowing down, investors are looking to Nvidia’s latest quarterly earnings report to see whether the company’s meteoric growth can last.

The technology company considered to be at the heart of the AI chip boom reported its fourth quarter earnings after the stock market’s close on Wednesday, beating expectations for both earnings and sales, CNBC reports. The company’s total revenue is up 265% from a year ago.

For context, Nvidia makes powerful computer chips that power popular AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot. High demand for those chips has propelled the company into Wall Street’s exclusive trillion-dollar market capitalization club.

As of market close on Feb. 21, the tech company’s market cap sat at $1.667 trillion, putting it behind Alphabet’s $1.779 trillion market cap. It’s also behind Microsoft and Apple, which hold market caps of $2.988 trillion and $2.819 trillion, respectively.

Nvidia’s stock price has been on an upward trajectory so far this year. Although the company’s stock price declined by nearly 3% during Wednesday’s trading session, shares have surged by nearly 40% since the beginning of the year. On top of that, they’ve soared by over 225% in the last 12 months.

Although short-term demand for Nvidia’s AI chips has been strong, major companies such as Microsoft and Meta have indicated interest in buying them from other companies.

How much a $1,000 investment in Nvidia would be worth

If you had invested $1,000 in Nvidia one, five or 10 years ago, here’s how much your money would be worth now. CNBC’s calculations are based on the company’s Feb. 20 closing share price of $694.52.

  • If you had invested $1,000 in Nvidia a year ago, your investment would have tripled by about 225% and be worth around $3,248 as of Feb. 20.
  • If you had invested $1,000 in Nvidia five years ago, your investment would have increased by an eye-watering 1,015% and be worth around $17,542 as of Feb. 20.
  • If you had invested $1,000 in Nvidia 10 years ago, your investment would have soared by about 22,340% and be worth around $148,226 as of Feb. 20.
  • If you had invested $1,000 in Nvidia on Jan. 22, 1999 when Nvidia first went public, your investment would have grown by around 277,708% and be worth close to $2,784,065 as of Feb. 20.

Before investing, do your due diligence

Remember, a company’s short-term performance shouldn’t be used as the only indicator of how it will perform in the future. By nature, the stock market is fickle and unpredictable factors can cause a company’s share price to experience sudden drops and fluctuations in value.

For that reason, most financial experts advise against hand-selecting individual stocks. Instead, a more hands-off approach, such as buying exchange-traded funds or mutual funds, tends to make sense for most people.

These types of funds aim to mimic a market index like the S&P 500, which tracks the stock performance of around 500 large U.S. companies. When you invest in one, your investment is actually spread across a wide variety of top-performing companies, such as Nvidia, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

As of Feb. 21, the S&P 500 is up by close to 25% compared with 12 months ago, per CNBC’s calculations. Since 2019, the index’s value has risen by around 79% and has swelled by 170% since 2014.

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.

I took a huge pay cut to work a retail job at Target after being laid off—here’s why I don’t regret it

In April 2023, my director-level job in real estate management got eliminated. I allowed myself a small window to mourn, and then decided to view the layoff as an opportunity instead of a loss. I’d been longing for a career change, and here was my chance to pursue a path that gave me a greater sense of purpose.

But I never expected to still be unemployed as the holidays approached. I had applied to hundreds of jobs but landed only two interviews and received zero job offers.

In early December, I applied online for a seasonal position with Target completely on a whim — half expecting to be ghosted again. But the very next day, I got an offer to be a guest advocate for the holidays at $15 an hour.

It was a huge pay cut from what I made as a director, but I was excited to get out of the house and interact with living things other than my pets and family!

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Initially, I was as nervous as a 16-year-old showing up to their first job, but after some training, I found my stride. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that my “little seasonal job,” as I liked to call it, was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

Going from senior roles to retail was humbling

If I’m being honest, I secretly felt like I was too good to work in a retail role again more than 20 years after my last day at The Disney Store, where I’d once picked up a part-time job on the side for fun. I assumed I’d dread every shift and be annoyed by customers who treated me like gum on their shoes. 

But almost every guest was incredibly kind and engaging. I bonded quickly with my co-workers and looked forward to seeing them every day. And I didn’t dread a single shift.

I gained so much respect for workers who are on their feet (and game) all day

Retail and other customer-facing employees are some of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met.

In those first weeks, my feet and knees hurt so badly that I developed a close relationship with my ice pack. I found myself sweating from the physical exertion of assisting crowds waiting in line for purchases, returns, and order pick-ups, and logged at least 10,000 steps with each shift.

My confidence came back

When I began my career in higher education more than 25 years ago, I loved every moment of it. But stress and budget cuts took a toll on my positivity, and I spent several years refusing to acknowledge I was burned out.

When the pandemic hit, I finally recognized my lack of enthusiasm for the work I used to adore and admitted I needed a change. Returning to retail was the therapy I didn’t know I needed. I remembered that I am valued, smart, hardworking, and fantastic at making customers happy!

I also realized I need words of praise to buoy my confidence and will make sure I can get them in future roles. 

I took immense pride in my work

When the chaotic assortment of clips for plastic hangers in the back room started to resemble the aftermath of a colorful plastic explosion, for example, I took the initiative to organize the mess. It made everyone’s work easier, and my colleagues were thankful I did it. 

My crisis-management skills were handy when a guest had a medical emergency while in my checkout lane. And when I was asked several times to stay on a permanent basis, I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself.

Now that my “Target Run” is over, I’ll forever look back on it as one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. I’m searching for my dream role in HR management or training and development, and I will no doubt be a better manager due to my lessons in humility, respect, pride, and self-confidence.

As I bid farewell to my “little seasonal job,” I feel grateful for the unexpected but rewarding detour. And you can be sure I’ll be back to shop!

Kathleen Baker is an award-winning presenter of training programs, seminars, and publications. Her career spans higher education, real estate management, and human resources. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling, and has studied at the doctoral level in educational leadership. Find her on LinkedIn.

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.

How an accidental college major pushed an ex-Disney star into running a space startup

Bridgit Mendler’s path from Disney Channel star to space startup CEO started with — quite literally — an accident.

The 31-year-old is the CEO and co-founder of Northwood Space, a company based in El Segundo, California that aims to mass-produce ground stations — otherwise known as the antennae that communicate with space satellites. It’s a far cry from her youth spent as a child actor and recording artist, known for roles in Disney Channel shows and films like “Good Luck Charlie” and “Lemonade Mouth.”

“While everybody else was making their sourdough starters [during the Covid-19 pandemic], we were building antennas out of random crap we could find at Home Depot … and receiving data from [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] satellites,” Mendler told CNBC on Monday while announcing her startup.

Mendler was still acting on screen as recently as 2019 — but her new career path began more than a decade ago, when she unintentionally marked a box on her University of Southern California college application.

“I’m studying anthropology,” Mendler told ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in 2015. “But it was an accident … I was doing the application all on my own. I think I didn’t really understand how it worked. I put down like five different things that I would potentially want to be in as a major, and I got my acceptance letter, and it’s like, ‘You’re in anthropology.’”

The educational field resonated with her: She graduated from USC in 2016, and parlayed her anthropology degree into a master’s degree in humanity and technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018.

Earlier this year, she completed programs at the MIT Media Lab and Harvard Law School, obtaining a technology-focused PhD and a juris doctor degree. While at Harvard, she served as co-president of the Harvard Space Law Society, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“I have two engineer parents,” Mendler said at an Atlantic Live event in 2018. “My mom’s an architect and my dad designs car engines. So there was a lot of math-y science-y talk when I was a kid.” 

Mendler’s off-screen qualifications lend credence to Northwood, which she co-founded with her husband, CTO Griffin Cleverly, and head of software Shaurya Luthra — whom she referred to as her “two favorite ground nerds” in a LinkedIn post on Monday.

The startup is already on the radar of several venture capital investors, raking in $6.3 million in initial funding from firms like Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Also Capital and Humba Ventures.

Some of Northwood’s early employees have track records at Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies and aerospace technology company Northrop Grumman, Mendler noted in her LinkedIn post.

“At Northwood, we’re rethinking infrastructure for satellite backhaul from the ground up. We have our sights on building a data highway between earth and space,” she wrote, adding: “We have a lot of work ahead of us but that’s the fun part.

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.