CNBC make it 2024-03-10 02:00:53

If you and your partner use any of these 5 phrases regularly, your relationship is stronger than most

Speaking to your partner with respect and appreciation is important, especially in times of conflict.

The most successful couples, according to psychologists, regularly express devotion, understanding, and contrition.

Here are the five phrases that couples who have a strong connection use most, according to experts.

1. “Thank you.”

John and Julie Gottman are psychologists who have studied more than 40,000 couples in search of answering the question: What makes love last?

The one phrase they say all successful couples use often is “thank you.”

“A thriving relationship requires an enthusiastic culture of appreciation, where we’re as good at noticing the things our partners are doing right as we are at noticing what they’re doing wrong,” they wrote for CNBC Make It.

This is especially true for small, everyday acts, they say.

“Tell them why that small thing is a big deal to you: ‘Thank you for making the coffee every morning. I love waking up to the smell of it and the sounds of you in the kitchen. It just makes me start the day off right,’” they say.

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2. “Help me understand this.”

Harvard psychologist Cortney Warren says successful couples don’t avoid conflict, they just better navigate it.

We often assume we know what our partner is saying when in reality they might be expressing something more nuanced or totally different.

“If your partner reacts to a situation in a way that you don’t understand, telling them that you want to know them better is key to resolving conflict and bonding at a deeper level,” Warren wrote for CNBC Make It.

3. “I can forgive you. Can you forgive me?”

When you’re in the heat of an argument or at the end of one it can be hard to express forgiveness. Do it anyways, Warren says.

“Studies have shown that couples who practice forgiveness are more likely to enjoy longer, more satisfying relationships,” she says.

4. “I am committed to you.”

“Being in a relationship is a choice,” Warren says. “Reassuring your partner that you’re still choosing to be with them and to work through challenges will help create a sense of safety and stability.”

This might seem obvious, but communicating your promise to one another can help you and your partner feel validated.

5. “I like you.”

“The healthiest couples don’t just love each other, they like each other, too,” Warren says. “Loving someone is an intense feeling of affection; liking is about seeing them for who they are and acknowledging the attributes you enjoy about them.”

Even if you and your partner aren’t arguing, remind them that you like them.

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34-year-old mom’s 4-month world cruise with family cost $50K: ‘Some of the best money I ever spent’

Last year, I paid $50,000 to go on a four-month cruise that took my family and me to 30 countries. My husband, our 12-month-old daughter and I shared one room that doubled as my floating office. 

We spent 60 days at sea and 50 days in port, and we visited six continents. This was the most expensive trip we’ve ever taken, but it was worth it. I see the money spent as an investment — not just in travel, but in a collection of memories that we will treasure forever.

Here’s why it was some of the best money I ever spent:

I didn’t have to plan everything for a change

I’m no stranger to long-term travel. From 2015 to 2018, we lived in our RV and drove across the country. For the last five years, we lived on our sailboat full-time, and I ran my online business, Making Sense of Cents from there.

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We love this lifestyle, but managing it takes a lot of effort. You have to account for repairing broken equipment, sailing in overnight shifts, keeping track of multiple routes and preparing for all kinds of weather and potential dangers.

We spent so many years constantly on the move, but I couldn’t remember the last time we took an actual vacation.

Stepping onto the ship, a lot of that mental load lifted. We only unpacked once and the cruise line handled most of the visa process for us. It was so nice to not to have to cook or do dishes for four months.

We did do a fair amount of laundry — inevitable with a baby — but we booked our room next to the laundry room on our floor to avoid any additional hassle.

I bonded with my family in a unique way

After our daughter was born, the idea of a world cruise piqued our interest. While she was still young, we thought it would be fun to slow down, travel with fewer responsibilities, and focus on being new parents.

When we embarked on our adventure, our daughter the youngest passenger on board. She was a veteran seafarer at that point, having lived on our sailboat (which we docked in Florida while we were away) since she was just a day old.

Since the rooms on the ship were so close together, at first we were concerned that a crying baby wouldn’t exactly endear us to our neighbors. It turned out that the cruise was full of grandparents who missed their grandkids, so it actually worked out quite well.

There were few families on board, but we befriended another couple with a toddler and got together for many playdates.

I set a goal to go to as many international playgrounds as we could, and we visited at least 20. Our daughter even took her first steps on the trip, on a beach in Moorea, French Polynesia. 

I got to experience many different cultures

The cruise started in Florida. Then we we traveled through the Panama Canal, the lush tropical islands of French Polynesia, the beautiful scenery of New Zealand, amazing cities in Asia and historic sites in the Mediterranean.

We’re usually very slow travelers. For example, when we lived on our sailboat, we spent six months in the Bahamas every year. So it was a rare opportunity to see so many different places in such a short time frame.

Some of my favorite stops were Australia, Oman, Thailand, Turkey, Montenegro, Spain, Mexico and the Canary Islands. While the sights were incredible, to me, one of the best parts of the journey was being a part of this ephemeral, floating community.

I loved getting to know everyone on board, guests and crew. We’re still in touch with many of our neighbors and we took some genuine friendships home with us.

I became better at living in the moment  

I can stare at the ocean forever. That’s one of the reasons why I loved living on our sailboat for so many years. We even splurged on a room with a balcony, so we could go outside and take in beautiful views whenever we wanted.

The tranquil days at sea were wonderful, although I think it was a little easier for me to relax than my husband. He was so used to being the captain of our boat, dealing with weather and fixing everything, but eventually he embraced the slower pace, too.

The most valuable part of this trip was that it allowed me to be fully present. As an entrepreneur, even when I’m not actively working, is easy to constantly think about all the things on my to-do list. Balance quickly becomes an afterthought.

I loved the simplicity of my daily routine on the cruise. I only worked the days we were at sea, for a couple of hours while my daughter napped. Then when we were in port, I put my laptop away.

This break was much needed. It let me focus on my family during a formative time in my daughter’s life and it helped me better understand what truly makes me happy.

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, where she helps readers make smart decisions about how to earn, save, spend and invest. She paid off nearly $40,000 in student loan debt in just seven months and now travels as much as she can. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

A Harvard nutritionist and a neuroscientist agree this is the No. 1 food for a healthy brain

What you eat can, and does, impact the function of your brain, including your ability to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and there are certain foods — like sunflower seeds and whole grains — that provide greater benefits.

There is one food in particular that Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard nutritionist, and Lisa Genova, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist, say is the key to a healthy brain: Green leafy vegetables.

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The No. 1 food for a healthy brain: Green leafy vegetables

Across the board, experts agree that eating leafy greens is essential for overall health, especially for your brain.

Some of the green leafy vegetables that you can add to your meals are:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Lettuces
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss chard
  • Bok choy
  • Mustard greens

3 reasons experts say a diet rich in leafy greens is good for your brain

1. They’re rich in B vitamins

Often, conditions like depression and dementia are associated with a vitamin B deficiency, according to a study from the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Green leafy vegetables are a wonderful source of vitamin B9, Naidoo told CNBC Make It in 2022. The vitamin, also known as folate, is “a key vitamin for supporting brain and neurological health, optimal neurotransmitter function, and balanced psychological health,” she added.

Leafy greens are the first type of food that Naidoo suggests for her patients who are looking to boost their mood.

2. They’re high in brain-boosting nutrients

Green leafy vegetables are also full of what Genova calls “brain-boosting nutrients” including folate, lutein and beta-carotene.

Lutein has been linked to an improvement in brain function and brain structure for older adults. And a systematic review found that taking beta-carotene supplements can boost “verbal and cognitive memory.”

3. They’re full of fiber

Increasing intake of dietary fiber was associated with a lower chance of developing depression, a study published in “Complementary Therapies in Medicine” in 2021 found.

Naidoo prefers to recommend getting more fiber through your diet, specifically plant-based foods. And leafy greens just so happen to be fiber-dense.

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

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Mark Cuban looks for 2 qualities in employees: Without them, ‘you’re going to be in trouble’

Whether or not you get hired by billionaire Mark Cuban comes down to two qualities: culture and  competency.

They’re the “two things that matter the most,” Cuban said during a MasterClass course released last month. “Are they competent enough to do the job? And do they fit in the culture of the organization? If they fail on either one, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Culture is more important than raw talent, Cuban said. Most of the workforce agrees: 56% of workers rank a strong workplace culture as more important than salary, with more than 75% of employees saying they’d consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there, according to a 2019 Glassdoor survey of more than 5,000 adults in the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany.

Young millennials and Gen Zers consider company culture a particular priority, the Glassdoor report noted — meaning Cuban’s observation many prove more true over time, as those workers increasingly rise through the ranks.

Cuban does value employees who complete tasks correctly and efficiently — that’s the competency part. But searching for the perfect worker to fix your company’s problems, a “home run hire,” without properly vetting their cultural fit is “probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen my portfolio companies [make],” he said.

To find employees who check both boxes, Cuban said he asks specific job interview questions like:

  • What’s one thing you’ve failed at and one thing you’ve succeeded at?
  • Tell me about a time you took a chance at work.
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What’s the best culture of a company that you’ve ever worked in?
  • Who’s the best manager you’ve ever worked for?

“I want to get them talking about their positive or negative experiences, so I can understand whether or not they’re going to be a fit,” he said.

For Cuban, the right fit doesn’t mean a carbon copy of himself: He looks for employees and partners who “complement” his skill set, but are unafraid to speak up when they disagree with him, he noted.

“I think one of the biggest problems an entrepreneur [or] CEO can make is they hire people who are like them,” Cuban said. “You don’t need to hire people like you. You’ve got you.”

“I don’t need people to tell me yes,” he added. “I can tell myself yes … I need people who are going to challenge conventional wisdom and challenge me, and when they think I’ve done something wrong, say, ‘I think you think you’re making a mistake here, and this is why.’”

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. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

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35-year-old risked parents’ house on $2.5M loan to start fashion brand—now it brings in $100M a year

The story of Matt Scanlan, Diederik Rijsemus and cashmere apparel brand Naadam reads like an adventure novel.

During a globetrotting vacation in 2013, the two college friends found themselves stranded among Mongolian goat herders in the Gobi Desert for three weeks. They learned about the wool trade, and came away with a business idea: Make low-priced cashmere goods by purchasing wool directly from those herders, skipping the middlemen who bought low and sold to apparel brands at a high markup.

Neither co-founder had any industry experience or enough money to fund a startup. But in 2015, Scanlan’s parents put up their home as collateral for a $2.5 million loan from a private lender. Scanlan and Rijsemus transferred it to a Mongolian bank, withdrew all of it and drove the cash — stuffed into 32 plastic shopping bags, filling the back of an SUV — deep into the desert to buy Naadam’s first 50 tons of unprocessed cashmere wool.

In 2022, Naadam brought in $100 million in total revenue selling a wide range of cashmere products, from its top-selling $98 sweater to sweatpants and tank tops. (The business declined to share its 2023 sales numbers before the close of its current fiscal year.) It sells online, in stores like Saks 5th Avenue and in three of its own New York and Los Angeles brick-and-mortar locations.

Scanlan, the company’s CEO, is well aware how insane that sequence of events likely sounds. Given the inherent risk of a desert shopping spree with borrowed money and the fact that he’d never run a company before, he says “there were many moments” early on when he “had no idea how we were going to pay back that loan.”

Here’s how Naadam defied the odds.

‘A little bit of luck and opportunity’

First, Scanlan and Rijsemus obtained the wool. Then, they needed to figure out what to do with it.

They sent it to Beijing, where it was cleaned and scoured for impurities. From there, it went to Italy, where another third party spun it into yarn. The co-founders sold most of that yarn to pay off their loan, and used the leftovers to make sweaters, says Scanlan.

Scanlan loaded the sweaters into a car for an east coast sales trip, pitching “every store I could” between Maine and Charleston, South Carolina, he says. “I’d pull the sweaters out on the table and I’d lay them out neat and I’d tell my story. We had 50 orders, each one like $1,000, and I learned how to perfect my story … I didn’t realize at the time that I’d be doing that for the rest of my life.” 

Simple as it sounds, the business grew from there. In 2018, Naadam posted a three-minute video online detailing the co-founders’ early desert exploits and their vision for the company. It’s been viewed more than 35 million times since then.

“That video defined Naadam’s success for a long, long time,” Scanlan says. “It probably is still the best advertisement we have for who we are and what we’re about.” 

Along the way, Naadam picked up more funding: over $50 million from investors like private equity firm Vanterra Capital, according to Scanlan. None of it could’ve happened without a lot of luck, he notes — including his parents’ willingness to put their home up as collateral for a business that had no guarantee of succeeding.

“You can have a great business plan, but if you don’t have a little bit of luck and opportunity on your side, it kind of doesn’t matter,” Scanlan says. “Every major inflection point that we’ve had along the way … we’re just [at] the right time, right place.”

A good story only gets you so far

Companies also need profitable economics to stay alive. Naadam only exists because of the cashmere industry’s middlemen, who buy goods from remote farmers at low prices and profit by reselling up the chain, resulting in the sort of exorbitant costs typically associated with the fabric, says Scanlan.

″[The goat herders’] remoteness led to, essentially, fixed pricing strategies that meant they couldn’t negotiate up the value of their raw material effectively,” he says.

He and Rijsemus reasoned they could pay the herders double what they typically received for their wool and still pass on considerable savings to consumers. Naadam’s most popular cashmere sweater costs $98. Comparable sweaters often cost hundreds of dollars, or even more than $1,000 for luxury brands.

Naadam also offers more expensive options, like a cashmere coat that costs nearly $700. 

But reasonable prices and an entertaining story only get you so far. Clothes that look ugly or fall apart at the seams wouldn’t sell, no matter how cheaply you price them, says Scanlan: “All that work, [from] being in Mongolia to getting you that product, [would be] for nothing.”

A Wirecutter review of Naadam’s $98 sweater, most recently updated in December 2023, says it does develop some fuzz over time, but its quality “rivals that of sweaters costing twice as much.”

“I need to make sure that that product is amazing, and you get it, and you go, ‘I’m going to tell everyone I know about this, and I want ten more of these, and I want every single color,’” Scanlan says. “That’s how we make money.”

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. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.